Sustainability Sunday #13

Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are…

At age 11 I chose to write and present my year 6 public speaking exam on light pollution. Having not written it on music, my family or a country I’d holidayed in I’m pretty sure I looked like a total geek. Apparently it was a sign of things to come and the concept of global light pollution is something that still stirs curiosity in me. 

  

Next Saturday marks the 10th year of the annual Earth Hour Lights Off event; from 8.30 – 9.30pm local time wherever you are, Earth Hour asks you to turn off all non-essential lights (bearing health and safety in mind of course) not only to reduce light pollution and increase awareness for just a short amount of time, but also in an act of community standing for sustainability. Around the year Earth Hour is an open source movement organised by WWF and international volunteers that campaign for country-specific sustainability action (see what they are on the Earth Hour homepage).

Why is light pollution so bad though?

For as long as life has existed, there has been a regular, dependable day and night cycle. This regularity is relied upon by pretty much every living species, but some more so than others. Although we, as humans, are fairly flexible with our day/night schedules with some of us staying up through the night despite learning that darkness is the time to sleep, and some of us sleeping through the day, we have the benefit of the concept of time. However, some species – take owls for example – rely on the level of light to know when it is safe to fly or when it is an opportune time to hunt thus their whole existence relies heavily on the natural cycle of light and dark. 

 
Light pollution also denies us of one of the most fascinating sights we are able to see: space. It’s hard not to be intrigued and curious about space, even if it’s kinda weird, and in places where there is little to no light the sheer number of stars is unbelievable. However, the more light we “emit” the less we can see of the stars; the glow in our own atmosphere is enough to hide up to 75% of what we can see with the naked eye – ruining our view and hindering research. 

So when you go to bed at night, make the effort to switch off all your lights, whether it be turning the telly off standby or your bathroom light, dim it down to reduce your light pollution, save animals, see stars and cut your energy bills too! 👍🏻

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