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Light Pollution

Have you ever been in the city and looked up at the sky and only seen a couple of stars, whereas in the country, you see millions? The reason why you see so few stars in the city is because of ‘light pollution’.

You may think the only harmful pollution comes out of factories and cars, but light pollution is also a hazard.

Light pollution is stray light shone from buildings, advertisments and other lit places. You can only see stars at night because they shine brighter than the surrounding darkness of the sky, but leaving so many lights on, the sky becomes brighter so you can’t see as many stars.

Lighting up adverts and buildings at 3am so that only owls get to see them is far from rational. Light pollution is very bad as it wastes millions of dollars on electricity which isn't essential. The electricity is produced from fossil fuels, which also means that in the process of making electricity for the lights, the world is being polluted from the waste of the factories.

Copyright 2006 Michael T.
Light Pollution affects all ecosystems and especially nocturnal wildlife (night dwelling creatures) as it brightens up the sky and confuses them. Bright lights interfere with migrating birds and feeding habits of moths. It kills a huge proportion of insect life so that would in turn affect frogs, lizards and other insect-eating critters. It also stops some people from having a good nights sleep. Research has shown that if people don't get to sleep in total darkness, then they have all sorts of emotional and health problems.

Streetlamps are a big problem if they are not designed properly. They are fine if they light up the pavements, but if their light emits side ways or upward, it contributes to light pollution.

We can now only see 10% of the stars that are shining above us in Sydney, the rest have been made invisible by street and building lighting. When we went to Huskisson on holiday we were amazed by the beauty of the stars, how many there were and were so excited about seeing the milky way. It's pretty sad that we have to travel so far to just see what's above us.

Lighting uses a quarter of all world energy! It's bizarre that we get told by our governments to 'turn off lights we're not using' yet they let the whole city leave theirs on!!!! Are they mad?

What Can We Do?
Make sure you do not leave your outside lights on after you go to bed. Even better is to install lights with movement sensors so that they only switch on when needed. Solar lights are another option - they are much dimmer and do not use electricity.

Join up to switch off your lights at 7.30pm on the 31st March for an hour. See Immy's story '60 Earth Hours' and be a part of ending light pollution.

Story by Freya Wadlow 13.07.06 Cox and Lawson

Thank you to: 'Alrighty_then' for the photo of New York at night:
Also to 'bazille' for the photo of Chicago at night: