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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

We need to do more about light pollution

Paul M. Sutter for Universe Today:

For years we’ve assumed that streetlights are the main culprit behind light pollution, but a recent study has shown that streetlights contribute no more than 20% of all the pollution, and if we want to solve this vexing astronomical problem, we have to think harder.

Tuscon, Arizona did a research study on how much light pollution their street lights produced. It turns out to only be a small part of the problem. As Sutter points out, we have to do more. I refer you to my post about how we can help.

Let’s all adopt Maine’s light pollution ordinances

I can’t remember where I first read or heard about Maine’s light pollution ordinances but they are something that has been on my mind for many, many years.

Successful designs do not threaten nighttime security, safety and utility, but reduce energy waste, emit less light pollution, and keep skies dark.

Somewhat recently, near our now old apartment building, a new self-storage structure was built. The nighttime lighting of which you can see for nearly 10 miles. It is three simple structures. And is bright neon green. It is, in a word, an abomination. When it first went up it reminded me of these ordinances. (It also made me think of when I was a young man and pretty good with a slingshot.)

I wish all US states/cities would implement similar ordinances for their areas. And many have. Here is a “sample” document from New Jersey. but I doubt are enforced or even encouraged.

Pennsylvania has an Outdoor Lighting Council (POLC) and even has a page on how you can institute an ordinance for your area.

However, I think as important as trying to get local government to recognize this issue is to educate ourselves and make small changes at our homes or businesses as we replace lighting. Over years this could make a big impact.

I urge you to do some Googling or follow the links above. One of the biggest impacts you can have is simply to reduce the wattage of the outdoor lights you have as well as be mindful of any light escaping straight up into the sky. None of that light is doing you any good anyway. Put a cap on top of any light fixtures.

At our new home we have some pretty bright outdoor lighting that came with the home. We rarely have need to turn it on save for the times we need to clean up the yard in the dark. In the first few months of living there I think our outdoor lights have been on a collective 25 minutes. And we don’t keep porch lights on at all.

However, as the need arises I will be mindful in replacing any lights with those that interfere with the night sky as least as possible.