So, what are the solutions? It’s unrealistic to think we’re going to turn off all of these outdoor nights. Some lighting does serve a good cause. Yet there are a number of ways to significantly reduce light pollution for the benefit of all.
- Use shielding on lighting to direct the light to the ground. This is effective on streetlights and building lights. The results of shielded lighting are that the light shines down, where it is intended.
- Do not overdo the amount of light; illuminate with only what is needed. Too much light is a waste.
- Do not use blue lights; light more towards the red-orange-yellow end of the spectrum is better for health reasons; these are called long-wavelength lights. Bluish lighting is the worst.
- Use timers and motion detectors for lighting. There are cities and municipalities that are looking at systems that would turn off until needed. Imagine a street lighting system that would only come on when a car travels the road, then turns off when the car is beyond the light.
- Cities, counties, and municipalities should carefully plan future lighting.
There are organizations that promote good lighting and lighting design. One of the leaders is the International Dark-Sky Association, IDA. The IDA has worked with lighting engineers to design excellent light fixtures, cities, municipalities, and parks on lighting plans, and an overall public education and outreach effort. http://www.darksky.org/about/
I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. —Vincent van Gogh
The famous Dutch Post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh painted in 1889 “The Starry Night” while in Saint Rémy de Provence, France. If van Gogh was to try to repeat such a work today from Saint Rémy, few stars and no Milky Way are visible due to light pollution. The starry night is gone. (1)