Yes, Of Course We Should Treat Light Pollution As We Do Other Forms Of Pollution

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A very strange demand being made here – that we must treat light pollution as we do other forms of pollution. For of course we do so already and we’d be idiots not to.

Artificial light should be treated like other forms of pollution because its impact on the natural world has widened to the point of systemic disruption, research says.

Human illumination of the planet is growing in range and intensity by about 2% a year, creating a problem that can be compared to climate change, according to a team of biologists from the University of Exeter.

Hormone levels, breeding cycles, activity patterns and vulnerability to predators are being affected across a broad range of species, they write in a paper published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

From reduced pollination by insects and trees budding earlier in spring, to seabirds flying into lighthouses and sea turtles mistakenly wandering inland to bright hotels in search of the dawn sun, their study-of-studies brings together 126 previous papers to assess the extent of the impact.

OK, great, so what do we do now?

We react as we do to any other report of any other form of pollution. So, what’s the benefit to us of doing the polluting? Sure, sure, you’re telling us of the costs. Great, thanks, we get that now. But we do still need to compare those costs with the benefits, right?

So what are those benefits? Fewer rapes- yes, the dark does increase this vile crime. Fewer road accidents even. Drunks can find their keys. The more light there is the less that finding is restricted to right by the street lamps. The joy of the fairy lights twinkling around Santa.

That outdoor light brings us lots of benefits. Which is why we humans happily pay for it – ‘coz benefits. If there are costs associated with it, well, so be it. We then need to compare the benefits and the costs to make a decision. Where benefits are greater than costs continue – where they ain’t don’t.

Except, of course, that’s not what is being suggested here. Instead, they’re suggesting the other thing we do with pollution – insist on there being none at whatever the cost. Which is ludicrous and suggested only by the insane.

We should do the sensible thing.

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Michael van der RietQuentin VoleMr WombyJohn BAddolff Recent comment authors
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Spike
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Spike

It’s not that people are polluting so gov’t decides to regulate it. It’s that gov’t wanted to regulate it so they called it pollution.

So we find that people are affecting life on earth – and all we are proposing is to transfer power from them to other people who are in the bureaucracy. This does nothing but limit my options unless you show how gov’t, in the process of resolving a geopolitical dispute or conquering territory, will not do the same “harm” to breeding patterns.

johnd2008
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johnd2008

Here in New Zealand, my towns streetlights are being replaced with LED lamps. This is not an exercise in spending ratepayers money as the old ones needed to be replaced any way.
The new lamps have two main benefits, in that the light is now focused directly on the areas that need light and that there is now less light being scattered into the sky. This is the way to do it, only light the areas that need it.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

NZ has some spectacularly dark skies (that are relatively easily accessible), with the benefit for those of us from north of the equator of alien, southern skies. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen the zodiacal light.

Addolff
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Addolff

“Drunks can find their keys”?
Not sure you should be encouraging drink driving Tim.

Witchie
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Witchie

No, it’s so they can get in the front door of their house, and piss in the toilet rather than having to find a dark corner …

Addolff
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Addolff

Piss in the wardrobe shurely?

John B
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John B

The Sun being the biggest polluter then?

Send in the clouds.

Only when PlagueMonster Mankind does something is it pollution – birds crapping all over my car is ‘natural’ so not pollution.

When everything is pollution, and everything is an ‘externality’, then nothing is.

Mr Womby
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Mr Womby

“seabirds flying into lighthouses”
Quench that lamp Mr Lighthouse keeper! No more seabirds flying into lighthouses, just ships crashing onto the rocks.

On the subject of LED streetlights, we had these installed a couple of years ago in our area. Now we get a bright pool of light about 12ft across, then 50 yards of pitch-black darkness before you get to the next light.

Michael van der Riet
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Michael van der Riet

I think I’ll send this link to your colleague Tim Ambler who understands neither cost/benefit nor harm reduction i.r.o. carbon emissions.