Less light Science


Mehr licht, adds light, is said to belong to a German writer Johan Wolfgang Goethen on his deathbed.

Many miss the same now that we live in the darkest moments of the year. I do not.

For a friend of northern lights like me, this is a celebration. Darkness, a cloudless sky, and a hint of luck are firmly needed to see them. You don’t have to travel to the wigs of Lapland to watch the spectacular light play. It can be admired in the cities of the south – at least in principle.

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Unfortunately, finding a suitable viewing location is starting to be difficult, as there should be no light pollution. But the light from urban lights is spreading everywhere.

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The same problem plagues observers of the northern lights and the starry sky elsewhere. A recently published map reveals that in Europe and the United States, less than a percent of people can still admire the virgin night sky. As many as 80 percent of the population lives in areas with so much artificial light that there are no opportunities to observe the Milky Way. In the most brightly lit countries, people’s eyes are no longer trained to see in the dark.

The situation in Finland is not much different. Almost two out of three live under a volatile star belt. One in three of us no longer experiences a good old night.

The change is great. When the Milky Way disappears from view, humanity loses a big chunk of its history. Well-being is also being tested. Constant light confuses the internal clock and causes many health problems.

Like man, nature suffers from light pollution. Birds’ behavior and reproductive rhythms change. Even plants are disturbed by night light.

Insect loss is plaguing the planet, and one reason seems to be the increase in artificial light. In Germany, it is estimated that street lamps alone kill 60 billion insects every summer. Some collide with the bulbs, others squat after circling them for hours.

The worst is the constant street lighting that interferes with the actions of moths pollinating plants. It directly affects humans if crop yields decline.

The disadvantages of light pollution can be reduced by small means. One might be turning off the street and road lights during the quietest hours of the morning. Abandoning artificial lights is not realistic, but if some of them were equipped with motion detectors, the lights would only come on when needed.

At least the pollinators would appreciate it. Studies show that even a small dimming or a dark moment in the night is enough to secure the pollen trees of moths.


Source: Tiede by www.tiede.fi.

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