Mammals: If mammals are exposed to too much artificial light at night, they can experience things like an impairment to their natural night vision, lowered ability to reproduce (threatening propagation of the species), and exposure to predators. Birds are particularly hard hit by light pollution.
Birds: Many species rely on darkness to hunt, and birds can become drawn to an artificial light source like a beam that can results in a number of negative effects. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the number of birds that die due to attraction to tall towers that are lit at night is 4 to 5 million! Migrating birds can be thrown off course from artificial light at night never to reach their destination.
Reptiles: Sea turtles are a tragic example of how coastal light pollution can harm reptiles. Sea turtle hatchlings crawl to the ocean instinctively by following the stars and moon, but coastal night lighting can confuse them and cause them to go in the wrong direction and they become exhausted and dehydrated and expire before making it to the ocean.
Insects, amphibians and of course humans are also effected and there is a lot of research still taking place to understand the full impact of this type of environmental hazard that has mainly been riding under the radar for a lot of us.
So, here’s what you can do!
- Minimize outdoor lighting - only have it where you really need it
- Install a full cutoff fixture - full cutoff fixtures reduce the chance for light to escape above the horizontal plane – keeping the light focused downward where it is needed
- Put your outdoor lights on timers - obviously this will help those of us who sometimes forget to flip the switch on the way to bed
- Get motion-sensor lighting – hopefully you can find one that works better than ours and of course, this helps minimize lighting that doesn’t need to be on all the time
- Colored lights can help – using yellow or amber lights can reduce the negative impact of night lighting
- Get active - find out what the lighting plan is all about in your community and make sure the powers that be are educated about how important this issue is
- Listen to the Green Divas: Short & Sassy 1.5 minute piece on Light Pollution
- Listen to the Green Divas Radio Show interview with Kevin Poe, the Dark Ranger