Nuisance lighting—fighting for trespass-free lighting

Outdoor light pollution disrupts sleep and wastes energy, according to Todd B. Bates in the Asbury Park Press on 05 October, 2008, highlights again for us the three-pronged problem related to light pollution as seen all across our country and around the world: light pollution equals energy waste, sky glow means a degraded environment (it confuses and disorients wildlife), and light trespass detracts from the ability to see what’s going on in the sky above us. All are serious problems with various implications for human and planetary health. Ensuring outdoor lighting is cut off from shining out and up (and aimed instead down toward the ground) would solve all of these problems in one quick step.

But this article also talks about the nuisance that is light pollution for the day-to-day routines of many humans. Whether it’s a light from a neighboring park or parking lot, or the backyard landscaping illumination from the home next door, it creates both physical and emotional disruption. And as we’re discovering, it can also disrupt natural healing responses in the human body, leading to serious health problems.

Some people are able to resolve the problem by appealing to local community organizations or governmental bodies. As Richard Gottko of Berkeley explained, he was able to make inquiries through the Asbury Park Press, which eventually resulted in changes to park lighting across from his home. The light will be moved, the bulb-type changed, and full cut-off initiated. As he said “If all that happens, I’m happy.”

As the article points out, light pollution is everyone’s problem and the cost to remedy is very low.

But disagreements about lighting aren’t always so positive. Some people live in neighborhoods that are unconcerned about light pollution and therefore unwilling to enact dark sky ordinances to remedy the problem. In those situations, individuals and families are either forced to live with the situation as is or move to resolve the issue. Why these communities refuse to make changes that would benefit them in the long run is beyond me. The benefits of dark sky lighting are so great and broad, and the consequences of ignoring the opportunity significant.


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