Light Pollution and Lost Sky in Cities

People not only pollute their surroundings, but also pollute the sky with lots of light. For this reason, we are no longer so close to the stars. We examine this problem in our article.
Our natural light source After the sun goes down, we try every way to keep lighting around. We exaggerate that so much; The artificial lights we create prevent us from seeing other Suns standing in the sky. So is it worth it?

If you have had the chance to look at the vast, clean sky adorned with stars, even once, you know how unique that moment is to you. When you look at the vast sky filled with billions of stars, it is likely that you will feel very small. Looking at all this infinity inspires. Indeed, this has been the case for centuries. Poets, philosophers, painters and scientists have been fascinated by this magnificence of the sky and have left works that will never be the same again.
However, we have begun to lose this inspiring spell of the sky nearly 100 years ago. In order to illuminate the air darkening electrical power, which is extremely important for us, we hit it and blended it. Generations that have never seen the huge Milky Way belt stretching in the sky once in a lifetime are growing. Aside from the inspiration it destroys, in what ways and how does light pollution harm us or the environment?

Light pollution as a definition; It is the use of light in such a way that it can lead to excessive, misdirected and different kinds of problems. Although it does not seem as dangerous as air and water pollution, it can cause serious harm to both people and the environment (plants and animals) with its excessive and uncontrolled use of light. In addition, light pollution is an important problem in terms of using electrical energy to a significant waste. Light pollution is divided into several categories.
Light Overflow (Light Trespass): We can simply describe this type of light pollution, which we can translate into Turkish as "Light Rape", as the input of unwanted intense light from outside. This type of light pollution can cause people living in big cities to experience sleep problems. Since sleep problems can directly affect human psychology, the government and the International Dark Sky Community have created some regulations in the USA to prevent this. So you can't use light as you want. The light you can use has a limit set by the regulation. There is no such application in our country.

Dazzling Light (Glare): As the name suggests, it is a kind of disturbing light pollution that can dazzle your eyes almost as if looking at the sun, coming from vehicle headlights or anywhere else. Dazzling light pollution causes you to be unable to see the actual object due to excessive light emitted from any object. At the same time, exposure to this type of light pollution at certain times can cause significant and irreversible damage to your eyesight. In summary, when you try to see an object, you are exposed to dazzling light pollution if you cannot see or have difficulty seeing the actual object due to the light emitted from it.
Sky Glows: This light pollution, which amateur or professional astronomers suffer the most, is the uncontrolled diffusion of light from especially crowded cities to the sky. With the lamps spreading not only to the places that need to be illuminated but also perpendicularly from the source, the number of objects seen in the sky decreases considerably. Even in very crowded cities, you cannot see anything other than a star or two in the sky because of this effect. Since there is no place we need to illuminate in the sky, the light spreading up also means energy loss. Whereas with the correctly directed light, we can save millions of Watts of electrical energy annually.

Over Illumination: It illuminates any place by consuming more energy than necessary. As you can imagine, excessive lighting causes significant waste of energy all over the world.
Light Clutter: This type of light pollution is the grouping of excessive amount of light at certain points. Especially for drivers, the grouping of light is misleading and can cause accidents. Gathering light can make aircraft pilots as well as drivers mix landing runway lights with light gatherings and get them wrong.
Comparison of the light pollution rate in a rural area (above) and the light pollution rate (below) in a large city. (Wikipedia)
Preventing Light Pollution
All types of light pollution are related to excessive use and misdirection of light. For this reason, designing the light sources according to their purpose can significantly reduce light pollution and provide significant energy savings. It should also be said that there are important issues to address light pollution problems since it is known to be associated with headache, fatigue, stress and even cancer. Ultimately, our ancestors were those who did not prefer hunting at night, sleeping in the dark. Our body, which is evolutionarily adapted to sleep in the dark, is unable to secrete melatonin hormone as much as in the dark when it sleeps in a light environment, which can even cause prostate and breast cancers.

Apart from the effects of light pollution on human life, there are serious damages to animals and the environment. For example, some bird species that prefer to migrate at night lose their direction and die due to city lights. Similarly, many insect species that try to determine their direction using Moonlight lose their direction due to artificial lights. It is known that thousands of turtles every year go to wrong directions because of light pollution and die.

In summary, the number of living creatures that died due to the artificial lights that we place in the world extravagantly does not count. As with many things coming from human beings, we intervene directly and negatively with the light pollution we create.
Turkey map light pollution.
In fact, it is as easy as minimizing all these effects, designing street lights to shine only where it is needed, or avoiding excessive use of light. Although some small studies are carried out all over the world on these issues, it is a clear fact that we still use the light very unstable.

We hope that with the increasing Earth population, we will not spread the light to the places where we can see the stars and have a clean sky in the future, but at least we do not completely destroy the magic of the sky and the inspiration it gives to people.


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