“If we don’t dim our bulbs, it’s going to be lights out for the Milky Way — and a lot of living things”

Opinion today 5/5/23 in Washington Post:

. . . “I’m grateful to the Dark
Sky Committee. Its members have no authority (there’s no law restricting my lumens), but they
were persuasive. It turns out my lights weren’t doing much harm to neighbors, but they were doing
a whole lot of harm to other living things.
Night skies have been getting nearly 10 percent brighter per year over the past decade, American
and German researchers reported in January, a doubling in brightness every eight years. The
dramatic growth of LED lights, and the bluish, short-wavelength light they give off, compounds
the “skyglow” effect of light pollution. Light-polluted skies cover an estimated 80 percent of the
world’s population and 99 percent of the U.S. and European populations, another international
group of researchers found several years ago. Here in North America, 80 percent of us can no
longer see the Milky Way when we look at the night sky.
That’s a shame for humanity. But it’s much worse for the insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals that
have had their ecosystems disrupted by the sudden change. In the evolutionary blink of an eye,
artificial light has altered migration, mating, foraging, pollination, and predation rhythms that
developed over eons. Light pollution isn’t as severe an ecological threat as climate change or
habitat loss, but it’s accelerating the decline of many animal populations.
Follow Dana Milbank’s opinions
And, unlike climate change and habitat loss, this problem has a cheap and painless fix: Just turn
down the damn lights.” Read entire opinion