On Sunday, I woke up early in the morning for a run. Before going for my run, I always pray to give gratitude for being alive, but as I look up, I can barely see any stars. Strange. Normally, I can see the Big Dipper at 5 a.m., but there is so much skyglow from the light people are using in their homes.
It turns out that this “skyglow” is a silent assassin to our environment. It barely gets talked about. It’s called Light Pollution.
Light Pollution, Carlos? Hurting us? XDD
Light Pollution 101 💭
Light pollution is an excess of light, mostly cause by manmade objects or causes.
So why haven’t you heard of this (other than the fact it doesn't get brought up)?
You can thank Denitrification.
Denitrification is the process that converts nitrate to nitrogen gas, thus removing bioavailable nitrogen and returning it to the atmosphere.
This process is important to reduce nitrous oxide and a bit of CO2 from the atmosphere. Some of these gases, such as nitrous oxide (N2O), are considered greenhouse gasses, reacting with ozone and contributing to air pollution. The more light pollution, the more air pollution you have. Why? Denitrification only happens at night because sunlight or artificial light (aka light pollution) destroys the cycle of converting nitrate of N2O into nitrogen. (N2)
The over-illumination of cities can lead to reducing the nighttime air-cleaning process, slowing the process down by 7%.
If your city has more light pollution at night, your air is more contaminated. (More light, more air pollution)
However, that’s not the only form that light pollution affects our climate. 👁️
Don’t Blink. . . or It’s K.O. 💥
(Notice: Facts below are specific to the US.)
15 Million Tons of CO2 are emitted each year to power residential outdoor lighting in the US. About 35% of the light is wasted due to poorly-aimed outdoor lighting. About $3 billion of energy per year is wasted due to skyglow. To offset 15 million tons of CO2, you would need to plant 600 million trees.
Ye, that’s a lot of energy wasted on how shitty we use our light.
However, there are many ways we contaminate the sky with our light. There are 4 types of light pollution:
There’s More Than One! 😮
Over-Illumination is the use of more light than is required to light up a certain place (or area); this is most common in densely populated cities.
Sky-Glow is the area of light that appears around a city at night.
Glare is light is brighter than what our eyes are used to handling at night because it will damage nature & people.
Light trespass is unwanted light that can come from neighboring homes.
Also, the worst type of light pollution (color) is blue light because it affects your body’s ability to produce melatonin & disrupts your sleep cycle.
We could just reduce the amount of light we use in our homes by flicking off switches and aiming the light to where it’s supposed to be, but it’s more than just that. We have to look at where we are getting our power for our lights: coal plants & indirect fossil burning.
So, Carlos, what can we do to play our part?
Some VERY Easy Fixes. . . 🔨
For the individual, the best solutions for light pollution (currently) are:
Motion Sensing Lights → Only use the light when there is something there.
Fluorescent Lights → Use less energy & not blue light.
Turning Off Lights → This one needs no explanation.
No Blue Light
Glare-Free Lighting → Has more energy, which creates more indirect emissions.
That way, we can reduce our CO2 Emissions & see our stars!
Don’t believe me? 😏