Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
San Diego, CA, United States (4E) – The world is using a lot more electric lights, causing nighttime lighting to become an “environmental pollutant” that threatens nocturnal animals and affects plants and microorganisms.
Light pollution is also harming the dominant species on the planet: the human race.
This growing nocturnal light pollution problem is turning night into day in many cities and the artificially lit surface of the Earth will definitely grow in both size and brightness in most countries.
The chief culprit for the world turning brighter in the evening are the ubiquitous LEDs (light emitting diodes), which are cheap, energy efficient and last for years.
One study said the increased use of LEDs is playing a key role in the growth of light pollution. Photos taken from the International Space Station show cities shifting from yellow to blue in hue, indicating the increasing use of LEDs.
High-resolution global analysis of night light emissions by scientists conclude that the artificially lit surface of the Earth is still growing –
A research team led by Christopher Kyba studied data gathered by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer (VIIRS), a satellite sensor with a spatial resolution of 750 meters. The satellite, however, cannot detect blue light.
It found that Earth’s artificially lit outdoor areas grew 2.2% per year from 2012 to 2016.
Lighting changes varied greatly by country and far exceeded the global rate in some cases. Only a few countries saw decreases in radiance. Among these are Yemen and Syria, which are both in states of war.
In some of the world’s brightest nations such as the United States and Spain, radiance remained stable, while radiance grew in most nations in South America, Africa and Asia.
The study also showed how sleep and wake cycles affect human health. It suggests that artificial light, especially of the blue variety, can trigger wakefulness when our bodies should be preparing for a good night’s sleep.
Excessive exposure to nighttime light is now linked to a variety of maladies ranging from cancer to obesity.
“Inside light is just terrible for you,” said Susan Golden, director of the University of California at San Diego’s Center for Circadian Biology. “It is making us all sick.”
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