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Light Pollution Essay

1717 words - 7 pages

There is a growing menace in today’s society known as light pollution. Light pollution is essentially excessive light from outside lighting fixtures that is misused and causes several negative effects. This increasing and perplexing issue is often magnified by industrialization and urban development which often neglects to consider the momentous problems light pollution causes. Despite serious efforts to minimize light pollution, “…light pollution rises about 6% every year” (Parks 30). One should know what light pollution entails, the adverse effects and costs of light pollution, ways it can be minimized, and how to appeal to the general public to help alleviate the problem.
In more complex terms, light pollution is known as obtrusive light or spill light. Spill light is “[l]ight emitted by a lighting installation that falls outside the boundaries of the property on which the installation is sited” (von Maltitz 1). This type of light can be measured through vertical illuminance, luminous intensity, threshold increment, and upward waste light ratio (von Maltitz 1).
The creation of manmade or artificial light essentially pollutes the natural light of the night sky. Common examples of light pollution include sky glow, glare, overillumination, light trespass, and clutter. Sky glow is the brightening of the night sky often seen as a halo appearing over urban areas (Chepesiuk 3). Glare refers to disproportionate brightness which creates visual discomfort (“Light Pollution and Human Health”). Overillumination refers to artificial light used that surpasses what is needed for an activity. Light trespass is light that occurs where it is not intended such as a streetlight spilling on an area that would have been dark. Clutter is intense, bewildering, unwarranted light composed of multiple light sources which together add to glow, trespass, and glare. From these examples, one can determine that light pollution is so pervasive that many individuals do not even realize it is a significant problem.
Light pollution causes numerous adverse effects with regards to society. “Many environmentalists, naturalists, and medical researchers consider light pollution to be one of the fastest growing and most pervasive forms of environmental pollution” (Chepesiuk 2). This dilemma prevents individuals from viewing the beauty of the night sky, poses a threat to human and wildlife safety, and is economically unfriendly.
The astronomical community has long been aware of the devastating effects of light pollution. Since the 1980s, astronomers as well as activists and politicians have been campaigning to produce standards that would limit light pollution. These individuals have observed the mystifying beauty of the night sky that some may never have the ability to experience with the surmounting light pollution issue. “In most of the world’s large urban centers, stargazing is something that happens at a planetarium. Indeed, when a 1994 earthquake knocked out the...

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