Light pollution has diminished our view of the night sky. According to Stephen Hume of the Vancouver Sun in his opinion piece, I can see the light – but that’s not a good thing, only 2% of the population of Canada is old enough to even remember the dazzling night sky of his youth when the Milky Way was visible from his back yard with the naked eye.
The steadily and rapidly increasing light pollution has changed all this and yet there still remain nagging misperceptions about why we need to light our cities, towns and homes so brightly. Brought up over and over again, the main misperception is the correlation between bright lights and public security. There is no correlation between the two, in fact, glare diminishes our ability to actually see at night. We are no longer able to adjust our nighttime vision to the dark, because for most of us, it never gets dark.
The increase and pervasiveness of light pollution has cut us off from the beautiful starry skies above. In 2001, a study done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that two thirds of the US population and Canada living in dense urban places could no longer observe the Milky Way with the naked eye. Most of us know this because when we are fortunate enough to be far enough away from the urban glow and we do see it, it’s an event we tell our friends and family about for years to come.
What can we do? We can learn more, educate our city and town councils and replace the lighting on our own property with dark sky lighting. Then, turn off the lights when they’re not needed and go outside and enjoy the splendor of the night sky. It’s still there.