We Can Reverse Light Pollution

By Chris Clark and Betsy York

[from the Commercial Record, April 28, 2022]

For the past six weeks, you have been reading about light pollution and all of its negative consequences. Well, the problem is spreading twice as fast as the population is growing; it now affects 83% of our planet!

The situation may seem hopeless, but it’s not. The solutions to many other environmental problems require global solutions,, but we can fix light pollution on a local scale. You can see the proof in Flagstaff, Arizona, which has been a pioneer in this area.

The best place to start fighting light pollution is at home. Walk around your house or business after dark and see which lights are on. Do you need all of them? Burglary is not a major problem where we live, so your house is pretty safe. If you decide to keep a few lights, put them on a timer or motion sensor.

Go to tinyurl.com/22darksky for a copy of the “Dark Sky Friendly Home Lighting Program” booklet. It will help you evaluate your outdoor lighting. When you’re ready to make changes, you can find low-wattage warm LED bulbs and dark-sky-friendly outdoor fixtures at Lowes or Home Depot. Tower Harbor Condominiums in Douglas converted their outdoor lighting a couple of years ago and the residents love the new look!

This is International Dark Sky Week; its goal is to raise awareness of light pollution. Douglas and Saugatuck Township passed resolutions recognizing the event, and several activities are taking place. You can find a schedule and resources at ducc-cjt.com/dark-sky.

Let your city or town government know you are concerned about light pollution. Perhaps make them aware of a blatant example of light trespass or dangerous glare. Saugatuck Township has a lighting ordinance. If you live elsewhere, let your council or board know that you want them to follow suit.

You can even become a citizen scientist! In the “Globe at Night” project, everyday people use a phone to measure the brightness of the night sky. This week, during the new moon, thousands of folks will observe the constellation Leo and send data to a federally funded astronomy center. It’s not too late; join how at globeatnight.org.

“Globe at Night” participants compare their night sky to images like these

For an added dose of encouragement, why not make an overnight visit to Headlands International Dark Sky Park, five miles from the bridge in Mackinaw City?

There are many ways to combat light pollution and in most cases the results are visible immediately. Let’s all do what we can to preserve the night sky for all of our children and grandchildren.

Consequences of light pollution

  • Light trespass disturbs the night’s peace. 
  • Poor lighting makes thefts easier.
  • Nighttime glare causes car accidents.
  • Skyglow makes it harder to see the stars.
  • Blue light at night is linked to cancer. 
  • Light at night harms animals and trees.
  • Ineffective lighting wastes billions of $$.
  • Energy waste creates greenhouse gases.

Ways to reduce light pollution

  • Use lights only when you need to. 
  • Remove unnecessary lights.
  • Switch to fully-shielded fixtures.
  • Use bulbs rated at 3000K or less.
  • Only light areas that need to be lit.
  • Aim lights downward.
  • Switch to lower-wattage bulbs.
  • Use more efficient LED lights.

Dark Sky Action Item 6: Become a member of the International Dark-Sky Association and support their vital work. Visit www.darksky.org.

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