Friday, June 21, 2024

Practically Living Green

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What Is Light Pollution And Why Is It Affecting Insect Populations?

When most people think of pollution, they think of garbage in the road, car exhaust fumes, and smoke coming from factories. However, it’s not that simple. There are many forms of pollution, and light pollution is just as problematic for our world.

In its simplest form, light pollution is the excessive use of artificial light during either day or night. While turning on a street lamp is typically seen as a good thing for roadways, there are many repercussions from doing so.

And most recently, a study has linked light pollution and insect populations, which is quite alarming.

How Does Light Pollution Affect Insect Populations?

Caterpillar

It’s well known, that many insect species are nocturnal. For instance, the report focused on nocturnal moths. The artificial lights made them less likely to lay their eggs. This is because the eggs are easier to spot, which makes it easier for predators.

The eggs they do lay may actually result in different feeding habits for the newly born caterpillars. This can impact their health.

The data they collected supports this notion. The caterpillar population was 47% lower in hedgerows that saw artificial light exposure. Obviously, caterpillars and moths are not the only victims of light pollution.

Insects carry out important roles in their ecosystem, and a large population reduction could have massive ramifications.

The report also highlights the fact that light pollution is not the only factor. Forests around the world are on the decline from a combination of deforestation and some of the worst forest fires on record.

And where the forest once stood, new developments that add to light pollution are built.

What Are the Solutions Available to Us?

The good news is that we can fix this with minor changes to our lighting systems and strategies.

For instance, streetlamps serve an important role in keeping our streets lit for pedestrians and cars. However, does the light need to be on if no one is there? That’s where motion sensors could really help.

Not only does this fix some of the light problems, but it also cuts back on electricity usage.

Other, cheaper solutions include dimming the lights or adding color filters to block the harmful wavelengths. All of these are easily achievable but would require the proper funding to implement.

Light Pollution Also Affects Humans

If you thought this was a problem that only impacts insects, you were mistaken. It affects all life.

Our sleep cycles can be heavily impacted when exposed to artificial light. In fact, exposure to it can stop the body from producing melatonin. This regulates our internal day and night cycles.

As a result, it can mess up our sleeping schedule and cause sleeping disorders.

I already mentioned that lighting consumes electricity, but electricity generation that comes from fossil fuels impacts a lot of things. It adds to air pollution and emits greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

Climate change has the potential to end humanity if left unchecked, and reducing the amount of light we use can significantly help.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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