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Light pollution and the modern fear of losing dark skies


Countless stories describe heroes banishing darkness with overwhelming light. However, our modern cities may be succeeding in eliminating the night sky for good, sparking a unique fear called “noctalgia” or “sky sorrow.” Urban areas around the world emit so much light that it is difficult to see stars and celestial bodies. Soon we may not see them again because of light pollution.

Astronomy experts Chris Impey and Connie Walker found that the night sky was getting on average 9.6% brighter per year. Additionally, a child born in 2023 may only see 100 stars out of 250 in a specific location on their 18th birthday. Do you want your child to only know the stars in the form of lanterns or words?

Fortunately, we were able to restore the night sky to its former glory. Let’s start by elaborating on the surprising impacts of light pollution. Then I’ll tell you how you could help solve this modern problem.

What are the effects of light pollution?

DarkSky International is one of the non-profit organizations raising awareness about light pollution. Its website highlights how it harms human health, wildlife, and our heritage. The nonprofit said modern cities expose us to artificial lighting 24/7, increasing our risk of developing these health problems:

  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiac disease
  • Obesity
  • Sleep disorders

They result from artificial light interrupting our circadian rhythm or biological clock. Our bodies respond to the wavelengths of blue light abundant in sunlight, waking us up during the day.

On the other hand, darkness signals our body to sleep. However, the night became perpetually bright because of the street lights, disrupting our day/night cycle. Constant artificial lighting also interrupts melatonin production.

It is a natural pigment that darkens the skin. Most importantly, it produces antioxidant effects, induces sleep, strengthens the immune system and lowers cholesterol. Melatonin is also essential for maintaining our adrenal glands, testicles, ovaries, pancreas and thyroid.

Light pollution also disrupts our ecosystems because plants and animals also have circadian rhythms. For example, many birds have crashed into glowing buildings.

Artificial lights also caused birds to migrate too early or too late. This interrupts their breeding season, causing their extinction. It also took away many of the things we associate with nighttime.

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Have you ever wondered why you no longer hear insects or frogs at night? Maybe you miss the fireflies fluttering in the moonlight? They are disappearing due to light pollution.

Finally, this problem could remove the inspiration that this night has brought for millennia. Many wrote our greatest works of art and literature after marveling at the celestial bodies.

For example, the stars inspired the Filipino Christmas lantern called “parol”. However, future generations may struggle to understand its origin if the night sky turns black forever.

How can we solve light pollution?

Image depicting energy efficient outdoor lighting with minimized light spill.

You can help protect the night sky by reducing your use of artificial lighting. Here are some suggestions from DarkSky and the Durango, Colorado tourism page:

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  1. Use LED lights rather than fluorescent lights to reduce energy consumption. However, you will have to opt for bulbs in warm colors. DarkSky says they have less glare than blue-rich white light.
  2. Turn off unnecessary exterior lights. If Christmas is coming, we could do our part by putting them out early.
  3. Also keep your blinds and curtains closed so that your lights don’t contribute to light pollution.
  4. Turn off lights when not in use.


Modernization has lit up the night sky 24/7, spreading light pollution around the world. So, this triggered a new fear called “noctalgia” or “night grief.”

Fortunately, we can do our part to protect the night by reducing our light consumption. Otherwise, we risk losing sight of the celestial bodies that inspired us to reach greater heights.

Let’s ensure that the Moon and the stars are there to guide future generations towards their destiny. Learn about the latest trends at Inquirer Tech.

Frequently asked questions about light pollution

What is light pollution?

Light pollution refers to our excessive use of artificial light, negatively affecting our health, that of our animals and our plants. This ruins our day/night cycle, increasing our risk of diabetes, depression and other illnesses. Additionally, it interrupts the mating and feeding cycles of animals, causing their extinction. As a result, plants lose their natural pollinators and die too.

How does light pollution affect the climate?

Light pollution has become so destructive that it contributes to climate change. According to National Geographic, excessive artificial lighting emits so much heat that it warms climates. Additionally, they interrupt plant growth and reduce the world’s flora. As a result, we may not have enough plants to keep our planet cool.

How does light pollution affect the economy?

Believe it or not, light pollution is harming the global economy. A ResearchGate article states that the United States alone spends nearly $7 billion per year on excessive lighting. Imagine spending so much money on light pollution that harms humans and the environment!

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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