“Even as a child, she had preferred night to day, had enjoyed sitting out in the yard after sunset, under the star-speckled sky listening to frogs and crickets. Darkness soothed. It softened the sharp edges of the world, toned down the too-harsh colors. With the coming of twilight, the sky seemed to recede; the universe expanded. The night was bigger than the day, and in its realm, life seemed to have more possibilities.”
― Dean Koontz, Midnight
In June 2016, it was estimated that one-third of the world’s population could no longer see the Milky Way, including 80% of Americans and 60% of Europeans.
Let that just sink in a moment.
If the words weren’t powerful enough, here are 2 images of the Earth at night. One was taken in 1994, the other in 2012.
The consequences of Light Pollution are for more than not being able to see the Milky Way at night- Effects on human health, migratory birds, ecosystems and energy waste are just a few.
The International Dark Sky Association or IDA works to “protect the night skies for present and future generations.” Founded in 1988 they are “dedicated to protecting the night skies for present and future generations.”
One of the features of the website is this approx. 6 minute video called “Losing the Dark” and was created to raise awareness of the effects of light pollution and what actions you can take to mitigate it.
Here is some of IDA’s work, as listed on their website:
International Dark Sky Places »
Our award-winning flagship conservation program recognizes and promotes excellent stewardship of the night sky. We’ve certified more than 65 Dark Sky Places worldwide across six continents, comprising more than 58,000 square km (21,200 square miles).
Fixture Seal of Approval »
Our FSA program certifies outdoor lighting fixtures that minimize glare, reduce light trespass and protect the night sky. Thousands of products and more than one hundred manufacturers have already been approved under the FSA program.
Parks and Protected Areas »
We help parks, nature reserves and similar sites with lighting management plans and provide eco-friendly lighting options for free or at substantially discounted prices.
Education and Outreach »
We educate communities and public officials about light pollution and provide solutions and resources through our public outreach programs and 50-plus chapters on five continents.
Sea Turtle Conservation »
Currently, we are working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to protect endangered sea turtles in the Florida Panhandle. We are also in the process of creating a sea turtle friendly product certification program.
Public Policy »
Working with public officials and concerned citizens, we advocate for smart lighting laws and policies and provide recommendations and model lighting legislation.
Consulting Projects »
We consult with government entities and private businesses to conduct night sky brightness monitoring, lighting surveys and retrofits, sea turtle friendly lighting and lighting ordinance drafting and adoption.
IDA Awards and Recognition Program »
Our annual awards program recognizes the outstanding contributions of our members, volunteers and like-minded organizations in dark sky protection and light pollution mitigation.
If you have some time, please visit their website and learn more about IDA and what you can do to stop light pollution and raise awareness of this issue. Having always lived in or near big cities, I’ve always been routinely aware of light pollution. I knew if I wanted to see a sky full of stars or view a meteor shower, I’d need to go “out to the country”. It was something I just accepted, never giving it anymore thought. Up until a couple of days ago, I was totally unaware of the consequences of light pollution. I was just upset that I couldn’t see the Milky Way. I felt obligated to write this post.
Hopefully this has raised your awareness and inspires you to share this with others as well. The effects of light pollution are reversable, awareness is key. I want to thank the IDA for all they do, it’s comforting to know we have “Guardians of the Night Sky”.