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Plot twist We have been surviving on a toxic light

Posted on 4th April 2023

Plot twist: We have been surviving on a toxic light

We would struggle to survive in perpetual darkness, wouldn’t we? So, we create our own unnatural light to survive. Unfortunately, when it’s supposed to be dark, there are many aspects of life on our planet that are harmed by us humans! The fact is, artificial light, the very element enabling us to live our lives at night, is actually also very damaging and insidiously toxic to our environment as well.

The lighting industry's reputation is being affected by light pollution. Light trespass and overspill are becoming increasingly problematic for councils and local governments, who are dealing with hundreds of light pollution incident reports each week from residents and businesses who are disturbed by mis-directed or excessive artificial light.

The Law acknowledges exemptions to protect us from crime, disturbance, and safety dangers, but who needs light to be projected upwards saturating the night sky? Again, there are exceptions, airport landing lights would be an obvious one, but what about the surrounding buildings – do they really need perpetual daylight?Research reveals that most complaints are the consequence of badly designed, poorly planned lighting schemes and very often outdated equipment.

What is the right light?

You might be wondering, what exactly is ‘the right’ light? Well, it’s when the light is not spilled or trespassed where it is not wanted or supposed to be. In short, this is what causes light pollution which is excessive, misdirected or intrusive artificial light.

Without getting all scientific, the light gets all over the place, corrupting the earth’s atmosphere and we are the ones living on that planet. We encounter most of the sources of this light pollution every day, whether the source is streetlights, skyscrapers, advertising signs, or factories. Coming across these is unavoidable, therefore those organizations responsible for implementing the lights are the ones who should get enlightened about this subject.

Don’t take this the wrong way, night time artificial lighting has changed the way people live and work outside. In only just over 100 years ago we have gone from;

There’s no doubt carefully designed streets and closed space lighting greatly reduce crime but eventually, everything comes at a price and the price is that this sort of pollution affects humanity, wildlife, and causes massive energy waste as well.

We are not trying to portray a pessimistic picture; it is simply better to face reality even if it sounds scary.

Light pollution and solutions

Alright, let’s talk facts; In 2018, The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) released a study that was conducted in Spain, which illustrates that too much exposure to artificial light can lead to developing cancer. Don’t freak out - not all of us are going to have cancer because we get exposed to light. This is just when being immensely close to light every day but, you do get the point.

Even if this looks like some sort of a myth, what about other creatures and wildlife? The BBC recently published an article in July, addressing this issue in a deeper context and claims that artificial lights have a negative impact on the ecosystem and wildlife; from how street lamps can harm insects, or they call it “Insect Apocalypse”, to bird collisions at night and interrupting fish sleeping patterns.  ‍

"Every single creature that has been studied in terms of the relationship between light and those creatures' habits has found detrimental impacts," says Ruskin Hartley, executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), the world's leading authority on light pollution.”

What hurts is that we are the reason for this chaos. Yes, humanity is the cause as we are the ones turning on artificial luminous lights 24/7, and without intention, we are deteriorating ourselves and the whole ecosystem.

Okay, let us stop being negative for a minute. So, what can be done to prevent the light from being spilled or trespassed? Obviously, not everyone is going to turn all the outdoor lights off at night and only survive by sunlight which, ironically, can also be very damaging to us humans, but this is another important independent, BUT totally interdependent, issue.

One answer is simple, so let me ask you a question. If you’re walking in the dark with a torch, where do you point the torch? All over the place? Up in the sky? No! The answer is, you point the torch in the direction you are walking.

So, one simple answer to light pollution, light trespass, night sky pollution is ….only direct the light to where it is needed.

Reducing light levels is also an option but sometimes this will not work and, in any case, even with lower light levels there should be some light direction and anti-glare control.

Having MicroLouvre® metal fabric on any type of light can redirect light onto objects or buildings and concentrate the light source to the intended direction, solving the problem of unwanted light trespass and reducing light spill and glare. It is easy to cut down to any shape or size and simple to retrospectively fit into any lighting model.

Maybe we painted a ‘dark’ portrait for you while addressing this subject, but there is always a solution to get the right light on both new and existing applications.

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