Technology has made life incredible for modern humans — but while it might seem like we’re light years ahead in terms of innovation it’s light itself that we’re really missing out on: the light from the beautiful stars surrounding our planet. Increasing urbanization has caused more and more people worldwide to lose their primal connection with nature, something that is almost impossible to replace by technology alone. The brilliant river of stars known as the Milky Way that has dominated the night sky and human imaginations since time immemorial is no longer visible to one third of the Earth’s population and 80 percent of Americans.
A light pollution map recently published by the Journal of Science Advances has increased global interest in the negative effects of light pollution. Major media outlets such as CNN, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Space.com and more have covered the topic extensively, noting that most people today are unable to witness the true beauty of the aurora borealis and the dazzling stars on a dark night sky due to light pollution. Smog is easy to see, but the effects of light pollution are difficult to quantify until we look up and watch as the dwindling number of stars that once animated the night sky are snuffed out one by one.
Recognizing the Impact of Light Pollution
As the size and scope of cities continues to grow, an increasing number of organizations and activists are gearing up to decrease the negative impact of light pollution. One prominent example is the US-based non-profit organization International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) which has made it their quest “to preserve and protect the night time environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting.” Earth Hour – a yearly event organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – is another notable effort. Earth Hour encourages individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off all non-essential lights and electronics for one hour (from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.) towards the end of March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.
One of the most innovative anti-light pollution initiatives was the Lights Out Stars On campaign which took place in Reykjavik in 2006, spearheaded by Icelandic writer and environmental activist Andri Snær Magnason. The Reykjavik City Council approved of Magnason’s proposal, asking residents to turn off all the city lights in the ...