Why do we tolerate bad lighting? Written and researched by Marc Sandberg, Dark Sky Georgia
What is Light Pollution
Glare Obtrusive and inappropriately applied outdoor lighting generates glare. Glare is any light that is in your direct vision (why do most indoor lights have shades on them?).
Light Trespass Light from a neighbor, business or roadway that spills onto your property, without your consent.
Energy Waste Light shining outward and upward into the sky is wasted. This waste is estimated at costing Six Billion Dollars annually.
Environment Lights at night confuse and harm animals and birds, and distresses trees.
Urban Sky Glow This is what you see when you look at a city from a distance, a dome of light covering a large area of the sky and blocking your view of the stars.
The Villains Growing pot in the living room? Drive Thru Operating Room? Acorn in the trees?
What are the problem indicators? Sky Glow
Does your night sky look like the photo on the left or the photo on the right?
Skyglow is not an indication of progress. It only indicates poor administration.
Night of Blackout 60 second exposure Night after Blackout 30 second exposure
Glare on Streets
Street Lights Use Full Cutoff
We Need Security Lights, Dont We? What are you lighting up? Many overly bright security lights obscure more than they reveal. Girl moved 4 feet to stand next to pole
Glare and Security What are you lighting up? Many overly bright security lights obscure more than they reveal. Same picture taken with flash US National Institute of Justice states: ". We can have very little confidence that improved lighting prevents crime".
Glare - Good lighting can improve safety!
Obtrusive outdoor lighting often happens. Lighting is only good when glare is controlled and the source is discrete.
Glare - Good lighting can improve safety! - Floodlights Aim the Floodlights Down!
Facts: The problem of trespass occurs in nearly every community!
Lighting only provides benefits to society when the light is controlled and the source of illumination is discrete.
Main factors influencing criminals' decision
Main situational factors influencing decision to offend
Deterrents rated with high Percentage rating
Presence of alarms outside property 84%
Belief that house is occupied 84%
Presence of camera nearby property 82%
Apparent strength of doors/window locks 55%
p u b l i c a t i o n s . rd s @ h o m e o ff i c e . g s i . g o v. u k
How lighting can aid crime
Most crime, especially domestic break-ins, occur in daylight, proving that light can aid criminals.
Over-powered lights, shining outwards, can hide criminal activity with glare, providing ideal cover for a burglar at night by blinding potential witnesses
Lighting can help criminals survey an area and minimize any risk, helping them to be quick and quiet.
Lighting can highlight potential targets, "easy pickings", security lapses and escape routes
Motion activated floodlights are so frequently triggered that they are ignored by neighbors
Does Lighting Deter Crime?
Des Moines Register newspaper, USA: Darkened streetlights fail to raise crime rate . "A money-saving decision to turn off thousands of Des Moines street- lights met with dire predictions from critics who warned that darkened streets would create a haven for crime. Statistics tell a different story. The first four months of 2004 saw a 3.5 percent drop in vandalism, burglary and robbery..."
Environment The light confuses the tree as to the season. The foliage of trees grown in continuous lighting may be larger in size and more susceptible to air pollution and water stress during the growing season because the stomatal pores in leaves remain open for longer periods.
Environment Tens of millions of migrating birds die every year due to confusion from overlighting - Crash into buildings, towers - Greater problem during migration season
The coal burned to make electricity for lights also creates air pollution
One 150W HPS street light per annum
Creates 1.24 tons of CO2
19 lbs. of SO2
11 lbs. of NO
22 grams of Mercury (1 gram of mercury in a 25 acre lake renders fish unsafe for human consumption)
Sandy Springs recently put in good lighting but did not remove the old lighting
- 30 superfluous 150W lights
- 37.3 tons of CO2
- 565 lbs of SO2
- 339 lbs of NO
- 1.4 lbs of Mercury
Why do anything?
You cant be bothered? Left unaddressed the waste problem gets significantly worse!
Notice the progression over 7 years (1992-1999). The culprit is unshielded lighting caused by lack of education and lack of fair and comprehensive regulations. The annual cost (~$6B) to erase the stars from the night sky provides no benefit to us:
DSMP - 1999
What has been done locally?
Several Georgia counties have adopted a Dark Sky Ordinance (Fulton, Cherokee) with more on the way
Example of Poor Lighting new Acorn Luminaires in Chastain Park
Examples of Good Lighting
Atlantic Station, all FCOs
Sandy Springs Business District, all FCOs
San Diego changed street lights to Low Density Sodium (LDS) lights, which are most cost efficient lights available Saves $3M per year
Des Moines turned off 39% of its streetlights no increase in crime
Calgary - changed street lights to LDS lights- Savings of $3M per year and a reduction of 17 kilotons of carbon-dioxide emissions per year
Los Angeles the sky over LA is actually darker than it was 15 years ago due to modernized street lamps (80% full cutoff)
Other cities with significant full cutoff lighting Minneapolis, Fort Worth, Dallas
Facts: "Light Pollution" - The Only Pollution that Costs More to Perpetuate than to Eliminate!
With improved efficiencies in lighting and design, the cost of better lighting is cheaper than the status quo.
Comprehensive laws can control the waste and save precious resources (less oil and less air pollution).
Light Pollution reform can and does begin right in your own back yard.
Light Pollution grows from a combination of apathy and a lack of education. It needs a rapid and effective cure and it needs it right now before the stars disappear completely.
What are your rewards to fix it?
We can have the light we need without the waste!
Save money and improve profit margins with lower operating costs.
Consume less fossil fuels (84% of electricity production) reducing additional negative impacts from soil, water, and air pollution caused by soot and ash.
Safer roads for drivers and pedestrians.
Reduce manmade greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Everyone gets a free Milky Way with each clear night simply by stepping outside and looking up after dark!
IT CAN BE DONE!
Consider the eye! If lights are eye friendly they will usually be sky friendly.
Prohibit the of sight of direct glare and light trespass beyond property lines.
Require area lighting in parking lots and common areas to be shielded.
Require commercial lighting to be extinguished after normal business hours.