Light pollution refers to the misdirected overutilisation of artificial light. Light pollution has been linked to one of the major side effects of industrialization and urbanisation; moreover, pollution of such type has been blamed for such negative attributes as disruption of the ecosystem, negative health effects and spoiling aesthetic environments (Kocifaj and Aubé 3). Scientific definitions of light pollution incorporate such aspects as the degradation of the natural habitat with elevated levels of artificial light. The definitions also incorporate such aspects as the alteration of the outdoor environment through the use of man-made lights and the introduction of any form of artificial light to the environment (Kocifaj and Aubé 3). Pollution competes with the natural sources of light such as the skylight and sunlight. Such light is commonly used at night; artificial light can be used during the day though specific settings. In fact, there are various forms or types of light pollution: light trespass, over-illumination glare skyglow, and clutter (Kocifaj and Aubé 3). All the different forms have various adverse effects. Light pollution has dominated most of the developed cities across the world. Similar to other types of pollution, light is a medium that quickly affects both the targeted site and the immediate environment. In contrast, light pollution is mostly human-made due to the use of artificial lights by people. In most of the business settings, the owners prefer to use different lights irrespective of the effects caused to the environment. Urbanization has caused light pollution that has severely damaged and disrupted the ecosystem function.
Urbanization and Light Pollution
Actually, urbanization has been mentioned as the major side effect of light pollution. As industrialization of companies continues, there is an increased need for 24-hour economies that are primarily powered by light (Falchi et al. 2718). Most of the cities across the world do not utilize the natural light systems, as they have developed fundamentally enhanced arrangements for extra forms of artificial lights. All the settings need lights in order to look more attractive and to satisfy specific business needs. Although most of the settings utilize light in order to operate at night, the over utilization of artificial lights continue to represent the major problem that needs to be solved. An example is provided for the Paris city, which overflows from a distance in the night. The effects of light pollution is rarely controlled, since the utilized light spreads across a huge area of land; thus, the effects are felt across large areas (Chepesiuk 23). A unique example is the effect of clutter light, which refers to aligning light at specific streets, for example, in the case of Las Vegas. The light arrangement along some of the large streets ensures the spread of light pollution past the targeted sites. Light clutter is also common among the major roads across some of the most developed towns. The overall effect targets both the present environment and the immediate environment. In most of the cases, different forms of light pollution are concentrated in the major cities across the world. In fact, a good illustrative example is Mexico City, where the sky glows at night. Sky glows refer to light that is seen from the populated areas. In fact, light appears from the illuminations present on the lower surfaces; in some cases, light emerges indirectly from below the sources and moves towards the sky (Deda et al. 916). The light is scattered across the air and it is redirected back to the environment from different areas by targeting different sites outside the concentration site. The intensity of light pollution is determined by the brightness of the light, which is affected by several key variables, including the color of light and spectral content of specific light sources. Rayleigh scattering is associated with the scattering effects of various lights, while the Purkinje effect has been mentioned in determining the specific spectral effects (Davies et al. 350).
Many governments continuously insist on urbanization across most parts of the world that increases the effects of light pollution. In some of the cases, artificial light sources are utilized along some of the natural resources in order to protect them from human encroachment. An illustrative example can be the introduction of security lights around national parks and on some water bodies. Although such a technique has a profound effect on reducing the effects associated with human encroachment, it allows for the propagation of light in some of the mentioned ecosystem (Bennie et al. 3). The problem aggravates if any water body is close to any glowing city.
Impact on Ecosystem Function, Water Sources, and Environment
Actually, light pollution can destroy and affect the ecosystem function. Any form of artificial light, which affects the ecology is referred to as ecological light. In fact, scientists argue that light can be destructive, beneficial, and reasonable to a different extent. Light pollution has an adverse and destructive effect on nocturnal animals in comparison to all the other animals. In fact, the change in the normal conditions adapted to specific environments results in changes in the behavior of nocturnal animals. Since most of the animals reside in a particular system, the environmental changes may have an adverse effect on the feeding habits and hunting habits of the animals. For example, artificial lights may change the sleeping patterns of nocturnal animals that make them more susceptible to extreme predation and lack of food (Deda et al 920.; Gaston et al. 915). The typical rhymic nature of the ecosystem is constantly balancing. Any slight interference in the balance changes the behavior of the animals in the ecosystem. In essence, a slight change is bound to affect ecological dynamics that have existed during specific periods. If such changes are not included or addressed, there is a high likelihood of extreme variations in the behavior of various animals.
In fact, light pollution interferes and alters the timing of most of the biological activities in the environment. Nearly all the organisms begin their daily activities at sundown and end at sunset when they have to consume food, shelter, and mate during the constrained period. Actually, a living organism will not necessarily adapt to its new environment and its schedules based on the changes witnessed in the environment (Falchi et al. 2719; Lyytimäki 599). If such a process occurs, the organisms will find it difficult to co-exist, as the light will be present both during the day and during the night.
In other environments such as water ecosystems, light pollution has been implicated in the destruction of such zooplankton as Daphnia; pollution has also caused the growth of algal blooms that have been implicated in reduced quality of water. Light pollution in water ecosystems interferes with the mating ability of different insects, especially months, and affects the ability of the nocturnal insects to navigate. Moreover, light pollution can negatively affect the flowers, which bloom at night and dependent on night pollination. However, specific species of birds, which got used to migrating and hunting at night, might be in danger due to light pollution. Actually, the night vision and stars help the birds to find their way. The sensitivity of artificial light is likely to affect the birds in the way illustrated by a huge number of birds, which have died in North America due to collision with some of the lighting buildings and towers (Bennie et al. 5; Brei et al. 100). Approximately 100 million birds die because of light pollution on a yearly basis. Migrating birds have been disoriented in some cases, especially if the birds have passed through specific cities, where the effects of light pollution are extreme. In fact, birds have also been documented to fly into the sea-based drilling platforms, wind turbines, lighthouses, and other lighted obstructions. The reptiles have also suffered the effects of light pollution. Most of the female sea turtles prefer dark beaches for nesting. The coastal cities represent the latest urbanization centers; thus, the presence of artificial lights in the surrounding environment is more likely to be associated with the decreased number of nests (Brei et al. 102). Consequently, a lower number of sea turtles will be hatched; it is likely that the massive migration or extinction of the organisms, which favor darker conditions, will occur if the behavior persists over a particular period. Sea turtles, which hatch in the lighted environment, are also affected by the artificial light that accounts for approximately one million deaths on a yearly basis (Brei et al. 104). All other reptiles are affected by the conditions mentioned above, as most of these reptiles are primarily nocturnal. Apart from affecting animals, light pollution affects humans. Various forms of glares have been mentioned to affect astronauts. In addition, the use of artificial lights has been implicated in blinding individuals, especially if the people are exposed to the glaring effects of the light for a long period without taking any action (Bennie et al. 4; Falchi et al. 2722). Moreover, light pollution has affected the sleeping patterns of individuals, especially in cases, when light trespass is involved. In the United States, light trespass remains to be one of the major key issues, which affect people, who live in large cities. The effects of over-illumination are also negative, as people have to live in a specific form of environment. Numerous bodies of the United States have attempted to regulate the effects of light pollution by the policies, but little success has been achieved.
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Regulating Light Pollution Effect due to Urbanization
Different states have limited the use of light pollution by specific laws that seek to outline the time when lights can be utilized for any setting. The new law requires that the lights, which emit light in the downward direction, need to be used. In the process, most of the cities have started the process, where they ensure that all the lights, which have been previously installed, become shielded in order to reduce the effects on the environment (Bennie et al. 4). Such a change helps to reduce the effects of the lights on the unintended areas and to reduce the number of cases of sky glows caused by the re-direction of lights that have been previously scattered across the atmosphere at the same. Some laws, which require the states to utilize energy-efficient bulbs that provide less light, have been passed. The bulbs are commonly low wattages and the amount of time lit is easily regulated. The light bulbs are based on the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) guidelines.
Cutoff fixtures can also be used to regulate the effects of sky glow and to prevent the escape of light across most of the horizontal surfaces. In fact, the design reduces the visibility of the reflector and the lamp and reduces the glaring effects of most lights. The proponents argue that cutoff fixtures are more economical in comparison to other light forms, since light would return to the ground instead of moving upwards (Lyytimäki et al 600.). For the method to be effective, the design needs to be effecient enough to cater for all the other forms of luminaries involved. The use of the cutoff fixtures also allows the use of lower wattage lamps, which can be easily controlled because their reflection effect is minimal in comparison to most of the artificial lights currently utilized in various environments. The major criticism regarding the cutoff fixtures is the aesthetic value effect, where most of the people in urbanized centers across the world would not prefer lighting their stores by specific lights, especially, with the lower reflection levels.
The adjustment of the types of lights commonly utilized in most of the settings is viewed as the next alternative approach. This approach involves the use of such effective lighting bulbs as the bulbs base on LED light. These forms of light produce fluorescent light of lower intensity and reduces some of the negative effects in the environment (Bashiri et al. 8). In fact, numerous campaigns have targeted the changes of the lighting designs of the cities across the world, especially the lights across various streets and the lights, which could be utilized in regulated environments that could be switched off to reduce the effects of light pollution.
Light pollution has largely been caused as a side effect of urbanization. As towns expand, there is an increased need to ensure that the business processes run for 24 hours. In fact, lights have also been implicated in lighting all the cities across the world by providing business opportunities. Nonetheless, the effects of light pollution are severe; the negative effects relate to the targeted site and the immediate environment. The destruction of the rhythmic patterns in the ecosystem is the major adverse effect of light pollution. Finally, the use of adjusted light types and cutoff fixtures may reduce the effects of light pollution.