Have you seen it happening in your area? They arrived in mine. Municipalities decided to switch outdoor lights from milky-orange, sodium-vapor bulbs to c energy efficient white/blue casting LED street lamps. Increased visibility, but at night is it a good thing?
With my podcast addiction–I subscribe to over 30, I just counted for you–I heard a piece on this very topic produced by Curious City, a program about all things Chicago. It reported on the source of the changing light colors of Chicago’s skyline. It educated me about artificial light evolution and how increases in light pollution leads to starlight becoming something most people can’t experience anymore–no starlight without natural darkness.
Light pollution occurs when a light source not only shines downward as intended, but to the sides and/or upward. I see it everywhere: businesses with “insecurity lighting,” with beams brighter than daytime sunlight, the homeowners who install outdoor floodlights which shine onto other people’s property, those awful billboards that illuminate so intensely I shut my eyes, but the lids don’t stop the tears.
Why should you care about outdoor light sources? Studies like this one from Harvard have shown LEDs emit greater levels of blue light which is harmful to humans and animals. Blue light disrupts circadian rhythm. Additionally, LEDs tend to add glare. If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you know these eyes are not a fan of the glare. Ever.
Less lumens at night, I could live with that. Would you? Is there light pollution in your area? Does the street lamp closest to your house use LEDs? Do you care about the health effects of blue light from electronics and light bulbs? Are you tired like me and just want a good night of sleep? Tell me about it.
P.S. podcast pairing if you can’t sleep: Nocturne