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Film Review: Saving The Dark – A story of light pollution

It is sad to think that our children may never see a night sky full of stars, but there are real consequences

We are lucky to live in Bend in Central Oregon, which is a city that is concerned about light pollution – but as it grows it is harder and harder to meet its aspirations. Currently, we are staying in our 5th wheel trailer several miles from town, so on clear nights, we get a wonderful nighttime stellar display. Nonetheless, we still feel concerned about light pollution and its impacts on society

In June 2016, it was estimated that one-third of the world’s population could no longer see the Milky Way. This included 80% of Americans and 60% of Europeans.

What is Light Pollution?

Light pollution is any artificial light that goes where it’s not supposed to. Fighting light pollution does not mean turning all the lights off. It’s about being sensible about our lighting choices. A map of what light pollution looks like.

Impact on astronomy

Whilst many people may not be interested in astronomy, the night skies remind us of our place in this Universe. Astronomy has inspired countless minds in our history. Being under a sky full of stars makes you feel tiny, humble, kind and caring. But, thanks to light pollution, most people lack this connection.

The video below shows how light pollution is killing our views of the night sky.

Even if you don’t care much about those poor astronomers or that fact we may lose many future great minds from stepping into this field there are some real impacts of light pollutions on us and the world we live in.

Effects of light pollution

  • 3 billion dollars wasted every year in improper, wasteful lighting
  • Brightens night sky and creates skyglow
  • Disrupts sleep patterns, our circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion
  • Millions of birds die each year colliding into bright buildings and sea turtles struggle getting to the sea due to light pollution. So many other species and plants are affected
  • Artificial light at night disrupts nocturnal pollination networks and has negative consequences for plant reproductive success. In one study, artificially illuminated plant-pollinator communities, nocturnal visits to plants were reduced by 62% compared to dark areas.
  • Sea turtles lay their eggs on beaches, and when they hatch, the hatchlings move away from the dark silhouettes of the sand dunes toward the brighter horizon of the ocean. However, many coastal areas are becoming heavily populated and these artificial lights draw the baby sea turtles away from the safety of the ocean towards the land where they can suffer dehydration, encounter predators, or be run over by cars.
  • High colour temperature LEDs(5000 and above) have a lot of blue light in their spectrum. Blue light creates a lot of glare, impairs vision, brightens the sky more than any other colour. People actually hate harsh blue lights

Saving The Dark is a Documentary Movie on Astronomy and Light Pollution. It is about the significance of Astronomy and the night skies, the effects of Light Pollution on Astronomy, human health, wildlife and beyond, what we can do to fight it.

The movie will show what the people in cities are missing out on, the importance of Astronomy in our lives, the impact Astronomy can have on children, how Light Pollution costs a lot of money, affects our health, wildlife and our environment, show the work of nonprofits fighting to preserve dark night skies, tell what people can do at home to fight Light Pollution and talk to cities that have successfully handled this issue.

If you are interested in this subject I suggest reading more on this topic, I have provided a couple of ideas for sources below. Also, see if you can get to see a showing of the documentary Saving The Dark please do. I am not sure if it available on general distribution

Earth Law Center

Scholarly Papers on Light Pollution Impacts

Take Action

There are several ways you can take action. Firstly, you can make changes in the environment in which you live, this includes:

  • Use shielded lighting to ensure the light is pointed downwards
  • The International Dark-Sky Association recommends using LEDs with 3000 Kelvin or below
  • Find Dark Sky Friendly Lighting
  • High colour temperature LEDs(5000 and above) have a lot of blue light in their spectrum. Blue light creates a lot of glare, impairs vision, brightens the sky more than any other colour. People actually hate harsh blue lights
  • Light only what’s needed, when needed and the amount that’s needed
  • Few lights evenly lighting a space is better than one or two very bright lights
  • Use motion sensors/timers/adaptive lighting rather than leaving lights on all night

Secondly, you can become an advocate and join the local chapter of the International Dark-Skies Association.

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