Why Dark-Sky Lighting?
Why Dark-Sky Lighting?
Dark-sky lighting still gives us light but in a safer way while also greatly reducing the scope and distance light pollution travels. It's the solution to light pollution!
It reduces dangerous disability glare for drivers and pedestrians (have you ever been blinded by a car with white headlights?). Too much light (especially if it's white) can make it harder to see and makes us less safe by creating harsh shadows and giving criminals a place to hide. Brighter does not mean safer. In England and Wales, an extensive study analyzing over 14 years of data from 62 authorities found little evidence of an increase in traffic accidents or crime after reduced lighting.
Darkness beneficially affects our circadian rhythm, which controls our hormones, sleep cycles and even our organs and immune systems. Blue light at night (from white LEDs, smart phones, etc.), can possibly harm your health and contribute to insomnia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc (see Dark Sky Resources for tips). For good health, we need sunshine, but we also need exposure to darkness.
Nighttime is essential to Earth’s ecosystem. Artificial lighting disrupts the rhythm of day and night that so many plants and animals depend upon. This leads to devastating effects for birds, sea turtles, nocturnal animals, amphibians, mammals and insects like fireflies. Dark-sky lighting (especially amber/orange) will go far to help protect our precious wildlife, and will help attract less insects to your property!
Nighttime is a time to rest. Amber dark-sky lighting utilizes colors that more closely resemble sunsets and candlelight rather than white colors that many find too bright and unpleasant at night--not to mention the possible disturbance to sleep! The town of Davis, CA put up a fight after their streetlights were replaced with white LEDs, and they won!
Dark-sky lighting uses only the amount of light necessary, which greatly reduces wasted energy consumption. About 30% of all outdoor lighting in the United States is wasted, and $3.3 billion a year is spent on this wasted light.
What you'll notice most about light pollution is that it makes our stars disappear. Experts estimate that by 2025 only a few dark-sky places will remain in the United States where you can truly see the awe-inspiring, ancient, sacred skies and stars our ancestors saw. This is due to rapidly growing light pollution and especially the current problem of blue-Rich White LEDs replacing older streetlights. Please contact your city/county officials to make sure these lights aren't coming to your streets...before it's too late!
Dark-sky lighting works! Flagstaff, AZ, a city of over 70,000 people, uses some of the best amber dark-sky lighting techniques in the world, and residents can see the Milky Way standing in a Walmart parking lot! Flagstaff is a certified International Dark Sky Community, and more and more communities around the world are adopting dark-sky lighting ordinances as well. How about your town or city?
· It's simply a way of lighting that helps keep the sky dark by fully shielding the light bulb on the top and sides so the light is directed down rather than to the sides and up to the sky, which creates glare, excess light and hides our stars. (Skip to 4:50 of "Losing the Dark," below, to see this demonstrated).
· It is amber in color instead of blue, green or white. Amber LEDs are a better choice than warm white or low CCT white LEDS. However, choose warm white or low CCT (2700 kelvin or less) over a higher kelvin white LED. Find amber LED sources here. For further understanding, please see Dark-Sky Resources.
· It is dimmed and no brighter than necessary, is only used where or when needed, and often uses timers or motion detectors.
This solution to light pollution began with Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition, when in the 1950s, they realized the necessity of protecting their dark skies, and they now have the darkest skies of probably any illuminated city you will find. They use mostly *amber* dark-sky lighting, and it's now widely available--people just need to know about it.
Thank you for reading! I appreciate you! As you can see, with amber dark-sky lighting, we all win! It's widely available and affordable. We don't have to settle for white LED streetlights and commercial lighting when there are amber LEDs that are affordable, efficient, and practical. We just need to stand together as a society (as we did with limiting cigarette smoking in public areas of the U.S.) and let our towns know we want it!
Please take 2 minutes to watch the beautiful trailer of "Saving the Dark" by Sriram Murali, below, which perfectly states what I wish all people knew--that we *can* reclaim our night sky! It will take all of us speaking up to our cities, asking for amber dark-sky lighting, and we must act fast, as new, even worse lighting, white LEDs, are currently being chosen.
Here, you will find a variety of sample letters, and please see How to Help for the most powerful things you can do to help reduce light pollution. We can do it, but to win this battle, we must all work together!
Saving Our Stars