Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fatal Light Pollution

Excessive nighttime outdoor lighting is greatest when unshielded lights shine into the sky, rather than being directed downward. Light pollution has three forms: skyglow, light trespass, and glare. As cities swell and suburbs sprawl - and the popularity of inexpensive, do-it-yourself landscape lighting surges - more light is cast upward, obliterating the stars, creating energy waste, and endangering animals.

Light pollution's harmful effect on wildlife has been well-documented. It disturbs the breeding cycles of animals, stunts the growth of certain flora and fauna, and in some animals, even affects the production of hormones regulating everything from fat storage to egg production.

Night-migrating birds use the stars as their central navigating tool; when stars are obscured by a backwash of light, and well-lit buildings and communication towers mimic the hidden starlight, birds become disoriented, leading to collisions. The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), which is dedicated to preserving the lives of migratory birds in urban areas and ending these deadly collisions, quotes one estimate that says 100 million birds are killed annually in North America in this way. Sometimes entire flocks are led to their deaths.

Read the entire article.

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