The pace of life in today’s society demands very high energy consumption. This energy production causes different types of environmental problems, among which is a type of pollution that is still very unknown to the public: light pollution. But how does light pollution affect living beings ? In this AgroCorrn article we are going to answer this question and explain details about this type of pollution that can go unnoticed by people, but which also affects us seriously.
- What are the causes of light pollution
- Consequences of light pollution for people
- Consequences of light pollution for biodiversity
What are the causes of light pollution
This type of pollution is a consequence of the excessive emission of direct or indirect light into the atmosphere from different artificial sources, with different intensities and light spectra, such as, for example, excessive use of external lighting.
Generally, it is in developed countries where light pollution is greatest. This fact can be observed in night and interactive photos of the planet. Thus, we see areas that are more intensely illuminated, that is, more lightly polluted. These points coincide precisely with the most developed areas of the planet such as North America, Europe or Japan. As for the Spanish territory, cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and the entire area of the Mediterranean coast are especially illuminated.
One of the main problems is that on many occasions, all this lighting is not necessary to carry out the activities that are carried out, that is, it is inadequate and excessive lighting , which could easily be reduced by taking the appropriate measures and which generates excessive economic costs, energy and environmental. In the past, it was believed that this was a sign of economic development, but today it is known that it is not, although it is true that better lighting improves safety or traffic.
The solution is not about leaving cities or towns in the dark, but it is about reaching a balance that leads to an improvement in the quality of natural lighting .
Consequences of light pollution for people
Living beings, such as humans, have biological processes that are adapted to the astronomical cycles of change of season and day-night alternation. Specifically, in humans, animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and some algae, the hormone in charge of detecting the light-dark cycles and the seasons is called melatonin and is produced, at least in humans, in the pineal gland or epiphysis. Based on the signals provided by this hormone, the body adapts biological processes to light conditions .
One of the consequences of light pollution for humans is indirect light intrusion. That is, when light is emitted not only where it is needed, but also to neighboring areas, causing losses in quality of life or sleep disturbances. Like, for example, when street lights are brought into private homes.
Another consequence is caused by glare. That is, when a person who is on the street, his visibility is reduced or impossible by artificial light emissions. An example can be the excessive lighting of certain roads, which instead of being a benefit, drivers often increase their speed in those sections, increasing the accident rate. Another factor is that poorly oriented or high-powered lights from streetlights or other cars often dazzle or produce areas of highly contrasting shadows that impair the vision of the environment. The solution could be to adapt the lighting on the roads to the vision of the eye, without generating excessive light changes.
In addition, excessive energy expenditure produces an excessive expenditure of fossil fuels to produce it, which generates higher atmospheric CO2 emissions, indirectly affecting human health.
Learn in this other AgroCorrn article what are the possible solutions for light pollution .
Consequences of light pollution for biodiversity
Light pollution also affects flora and fauna , especially nocturnal living beings. This fauna needs darkness to maintain its rhythms and, sometimes, the light does not allow them to develop them properly or even in any way at all.
The effects on flora and fauna of this type of pollution are more studied than on human health. Some examples of how light pollution affects animals and plants are:
- The excessive lighting of the beaches is a detriment to marine life. The upwelling and descent cycles of marine plankton are altered by this artificial light. Plankton is the basis of food for many marine species, which are also indirectly affected.
- The birds are dazzled and disoriented in their migrations. In many cases, they go out later to look for food or do not make a catch. In addition, many birds die when they collide with buildings because they cannot see well, at times when they are dazzled by excess light.
- Many animals that do not see at certain wavelengths can be easy prey for other species. Excessive light alters the habits of most insects that break the day-night cycle. In addition, the ultraviolet light released by many lamps, damages them and, indirectly, their natural predators such as birds, bats or amphibians.
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