Why we should care about light pollution and a tip

All this week (5 to 12 April) is International Dark Sky Week, which highlights the issue of light pollution.

Poor lighting is an inefficient use of resources (both materials and energy) and so is a contributor to climate change.

Our light can have a huge impact on the safety of nocturnal animals, and their migration, feeding and breeding. We have a responsibility to minimise this impact as much as possible and live more in harmony with the natural world.

Finally, the visibility of the night sky represents our connection with the natural world. Few of us must navigate by the stars any more, but witnessing the passage of the moon and the stars in the night sky is part of our formative education. The night sky represents many things to people, from astrology to the dream of space travel, to understanding the fundamentals of the universe. We can’t do any of these things when it’s hidden behind a shroud of yellow and orange.

I’ve lived with light pollution for plenty of my life, probably the worst was Dubai. I never realised what I was missing until I camped in the desert, especially when we were far from the city. Then the sky got so much bigger, starlight so bright you felt you could read by it. These days I still live with light pollution, but I crave those nights when I can see the galaxy.

A tip for 6 April (International Dark Sky Week) : Turn off unnecessary outside lights.

By “unnecessary” I mean anything that we aren’t currently using or that doesn’t have an essential function. Why should we do this?

  • Minimise our impact on our local natural environment, and thus disruption to animals’ sleeping, movement, feeding and breeding
  • Reduce electricity wastage, and
  • Save money