Dark Sky Friendly Lighting 🌌
📅 Once you see the bad light, you can't unsee it.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that your December is off to a great start! A couple of weeks ago I invited you to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA)'s virtual conference. Today, I want to share some of the insights with you in case you weren’t able to attend. The purpose of the conference was to inspire and empower people to protect the night.
Nighttime Light Pollution Affects 99% of People in Cities
In developed places, fighting light pollution means regaining darkness and views of the stars. In more rural places, this means retaining current views of the night sky even in spite of expanding developments.
The uniting message from the conference is that industry is almost always faster to respond than science or government. For lighting companies and industry, the push for darker skies is welcome.
Beneits of Dark Sky Friendly Outdoor Lighting:
Greater energy efficiency
Imagine how much energy we could put to other uses, or save for the future. See: Light Pollution Wastes Energy on IDA’s website.
Less disruptive to wildlife
Imagine how many more birds could succeed in their annual migrations. How many more nocturnal animals could succeed in their hunting and breeding? And so on. See: Light Pollution Effects on Wildlife and Ecosystems.
Healthier for humans
Imagine how much higher quality of life is possible for nightshift workers. Imagine how many fewer manic and schizophrenic episodes among the mentally vulnerable? See: Seeing Blue, the 2010 whitepaper from IDA.
Safer for humans
How much less crime and vandalism, which is shown to take place in brighter places (not darker)? See: Lighting, Crime, and Safety.
Preserves view of the night sky for future generations
Even if you live in a rural area, light at night is expanding at 2x the rate of population. Developers need to learn about and use the new dark sky friendly lights to preserve your view of the stars. See: Light Pollution.
Opportunity to upgrade older equipment
Engineering and installing these lighting systems is a long-term and meaningful work opportunity. See: LED Practical Guide.
According to Tim Brothers, Observatory Manager at MIT’s Wallace Astrophysical Observatory and Vice President of the Massachusetts chapter of the IDA, the best way you can make a difference is to pivot from being an activist to becoming an advisor.
From amateur activist to professional consultant
As a street lighting advisor or consultant, you can make it easy for people to make real changes by:
knowing how to communicate the potential gains of switching to dark sky friendly lighting
knowing which kinds of lighting choices that will be most effective and affordable
knowing how to use energy efficiency and public safety grants to offset costs
helping with community outreach
showing up and being available over time
There are even more recommendations on the IDA website here. But the long and short of it is that no one likes to hear warnings, even from the most passionate activist. Luckily, as Brothers points out, an advisor or consultant can deliver the same information in a proactive and useful way. This makes you an authority for driving good decisions and takes the burden off of everyone else. With dark skies (or any change), it is best to lead with positivity.
Lead with Positivity
Like this: Dark sky friendly lighting is more energy efficient. It keeps the stars visible in rural areas experiencing expansion. It allows wildlife to exhibit natural behaviors. It may help prevent mental health episodes in humans. And the tech is easy and available.
As Nobuaki Ochi shared, many people don't yet know about the benefits of the new lights. This is a place where community-building can make a big difference.
Ignorance is to fear as knowledge is to trust
Community education is where people like us can help increase awareness of the benefits of dark skies. Currently, most places with night lighting have high, unshielded, and stark bulb and fixture combinations. To become friendly for biology and preserve (or regain) views of the stars, we need lighting that is:
While helping whole regions is a noble goal, even starting with your own home is a great first step. The modern lifestyle is full of circadian disruption, but by habit, it is comfortable. Going "natural" can be uncomfortable at first. Warmth is "too hot." Coolness is "too cold." Brightness is "glare." Darkness is "danger." Hunger is "craving." Satiety is "stuffed." And so on.
But if you know what to expect, a more natural lifestyle can be equally, if not more, enjoyable.
What does dark sky friendly lighting look like?
Here are some helpful illustrations from IDA for what “good” nightlights might look like:
I hope this inspires you to bring your family and community together around the changes. People need to know why the lights are changing, and how it impacts them.
Get the 2021 Under One Sky conference replays
If you have time, check out the conference replays and find the sessions most interesting to you at the link below:
You can also sign up for their upcoming Dark Sky Week 2022, coming next Spring, here:
Thanks for reading! I've shared a lot of info about community building lately, so next time I am going to share tips for individuals. There are predictable challenges to adopting a new lifestyle, and I want to show you how to assist people with overcoming them.