Global Light Pollution is Killing the Night, Scientists Warn

Earth from orbit

Global light pollution has increased in part thanks to the rise of LED lights, scientists claim.

Scientists have been looking over satellite data and they concluded that Earth is littered with artificial light. The spread of LED lights has increased global light pollution, which in turn can affect both human and animal health.

Published in the journal, Science Advances, the results show outdoor lighting to have grown at a rate of 3 percent to 6 percent annually in the second half of the twentieth century. In essence, the line between night and day has blurred.

“…we are convinced that artificial light is an environmental pollutant with ecological and evolutionary implications for many organisms,” states Franz Holker of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and one of the study’s authors.

Holker added that light pollution can reshape entire social-ecological systems ranging from bacteria to mammals. Holker noted that 30 percent of vertebrates and more than 60 percent of invertebrates are nocturnal.

Researchers noted that that the increase of lighting can disrupt our body clocks and raise the risks of cancer, diabetes, and depression. Global light pollution affects animals as well, either by disorientating migrating birds and sea turtles or by attracting insects.  The study revealed that animal migration patterns are affected the most.

Lead author of the study and physicist at the German Research Center for Geosciences, Chris Kyba, notes that LED lights aren’t the only contributing factor to this new wave of pollution but rather it’s humanity’s tendency to install more and more electrical systems.

“We’ll light something that we didn’t light before, like a bicycle path through a park or a section of a highway…that in the past wasn’t lit,” he told reporters on a conference call.

LED lights have become the go-to means of increasing visibility during the night. They are cost effective and need far less electricity than other lighting systems.

Light pollution became prevalent in developing countries such as Asia and South America, however, countries that were already brightly lit, such as the United State, appeared stable. Even so, scientists believe light levels are rising everywhere in the world.

Image Source: Nasa.gov

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Roxanne Briean

I am a geek, a gamer and a writer. I have always been fascinated with the online community. At the moment I work as a full-time writer and study interior design. When I'm not scouring the net in search of interesting new gadgets and software I spend my time in MOBAs or drawing.