The Fruits of Civilization – Light


“Dark areas are being lost in places where animals and plants have adapted to darkness over billions of years.” ~ German ecologist Franz Hölker

The cycle of day and night provides critical timing cues to all sorts of life. Turning night into day, or its rough facsimile, hurts those who depend upon the dark. Like a moth to a flame, flying insects perish in large numbers from the seduction of artificial lights. Birds are adversely affected, especially migratory ones. Light pollution poses a threat to 30% of vertebrates and over 60% of invertebrates. Human cancers increase in well-lit neighborhoods. Plants are also negatively impacted.

“Illuminating the nocturnal environment can have widespread ramifications for ecology and human health.” ~ English ecologist Thomas Davies

The loss of night is widespread. Half of Europe and a quarter of North America is nocturnally lit. The problem is rapidly worsening. From 2012 to 2016, the area of Earth artificially lit grew by 9%. At that rate, the spread of fake light will double by 2044. The brightening is most dramatic in rapidly industrializing countries throughout South America, Africa, and Asia.

There is a more insidious form of light pollution: industrial materials may refract polarized light in a way that confuses insects, who mistake a hazardous substance for water.

“These objects look more like water than water. EvBen when given the choice between water and human-made surfaces, some insects prefer to lay their eggs on – and settle near – the latter.” ~ American ecologist Bruce Robertson