Have you ever seen an image of our planet from space? You will agree that it looks stunning, especially with all those lights lit up from all the different cities around the world, but every year, those lights shine even brighter. But did you know that the loss of night may affect us and our environment? According to the BBC, scientists say that those glimmering lights which compliment Earth, are resulting in a loss of night in many countries. According to the scientists, this can negatively affect animals, us and our environment. The scientists used a device made by NASA to measure the brightness of night-time light.
NASA’s radiometer can show the changes in brightness over time, depending on the country. The researchers expected that richer countries would show less light during the night time, given that those countries started using LED lights instead of sodium lights, which are not as bright on satellite images.
However, most of those rich countries remained almost as bright as before, while the city areas in the U.S., UK and European countries, displayed as even brighter. The level of brightness has increased in other countries also, such as India, and areas such as South America, Africa, and Asia. Only countries, such as Yemen and Syria, displayed a decrease in night-time lights, although both countries are going through wars at the moment which should account for that. The loss of night can affect the health of animals that are active during the night, especially, for example, nocturnally migrating birds.
Artificial light during the night has also resulted in less activity of nocturnal insects, which support the pollinating process of plants. Also, scientists have spotted that trees that are located in those bright areas opened their buds up a week before the trees in the countries with fewer night-time lights.
Christopher Kyba, a scientist who is conducting this research in Germany, stated that the introduction of artificial light is “one of the most dramatic physical changes human beings have made to our environment,” as quoted by the BBC.
He said that it is possible to reduce the amount of artificial light, without having difficulties seeing during the night.
“Human vision relies on contrast, not the amount of light, so by reducing contrast outdoors – avoiding glaring lamps – it is actually possible to have improved vision with less light.”