What is Light Pollution?

The light bulb is one of the greatest inventions of all time. Imagine life without light. By flicking a switch, a light bulb allows us to prolong our activities into the night and increase a feeling of safety.

According to a study by National Geographic (Drake, 2019), we have lost our connection to the night sky. The excess light that we throw into environment results in light pollution, causing harm to those animals and insects whose lifecycle depends on darkness. Although light pollution is not as hazardous as a chemical spill, it is now among the biggest global environmental problems.

What is light pollution?

Light pollution is the excessive use of artificial light that competes with starlight by causing glare, sky glow, and light trespass. As any other form of an environmental problem resulting from industrial civilisation, it disrupts the eco-system. Light pollution comes from multiple sources of exterior and interior lighting, such as streetlights, illuminated buildings, advertisement boards.

What are the effects of light pollution?

  • Excessive exposure to bright light interferes with bird migration at night time (Metcalfe, 2017). Blinded by the glare of artificial light, birds get knocked into the building, which is frequently lethal to birds (Drake, 2019).

  • The excess light at night harms human health as well. A study by National Geographic (Drake, 2019) has shown that human physiology depends on the dark, rather than sleep. Electric lighting interferes with circadian rhythms that affect the flow of melatonin. As a result, this disruption may cause obesity, diabetes, depression, and cancer.

  • One-third of humanity no longer can see Milky Way due to artificial “sky-glow” (Davis, 2016). As a result, it affects the ability of astronomers to study the sky.

(Rafiq, 2015)

What is the solution to light pollution?

According to a study by National Geographic (Drake, 2019), to minimise the light pollution, we have to use a light source with less glare and light trespass. In order to maintain as much overnight dark as possible, it is crucial to use light only where required without throwing the light in all directions.


Davis, N. (2016). Milky Way no longer visible to one third of humanity, light pollution atlas shows. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jun/10/milky-way-no-longer-visible-to-one-third-of-humanity-light-pollution [Accessed 8 Jan. 2020].

Drake, N. (2019). Our nights are getting brighter, and Earth is paying the price. [online] Nationalgeographic.com. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/04/nights-are-getting-brighter-earth-paying-the-price-light-pollution-dark-skies/ [Accessed 8 Jan. 2020].

Metcalfe, J. (2017). Urban Lights Are Confusing Birds to Death. [online] CityLab. Available at: https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/10/urban-lights-are-confusing-birds-to-death/543078/ [Accessed 8 Jan. 2020].

Rafiq, H. (2015). Light Pollution. [image] Available at: https://bewitter.com/10-ways-that-light-pollution-harms-the-world/ [Accessed 8 Jan. 2020].


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