Urban residents are urging their city governments to turn down the lights. Quincy Campbell reports how to stop streetlights from trespassing into the night sky and your bedroom.
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CAMPBELL: If you live in an urban area chances are your starry nights are at least partially obscured. The culprit may be light pollution – and you’re probably paying for it.
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CAMPBELL: Outdoor lighting disturbs the circadian rhythms of the natural world, affecting everything from bats to plants to people. We can efficiently light our homes using timers and motion sensors, but streetlights remain on through the night. Organizations like the International Dark-Sky Association recommend only lighting what needs to be lit, without sacrifice to safety.
But many streets and public areas are lit with high-glare bulbs that can create unsafe dark patches outside of the light. Strapped city governments are increasingly reliant on residents to pay for that lighting – which can account for up to 40 percent of a city’s electricity cost. So, you end up footing the bill for streetlights and the light pollution.
But some cities are heeding residents’ calls for more efficient lighting. Many will install light shields for those glaring lights upon request – focusing them downward instead of outward. And in some places, they’ll even replace the light bulb with a lower wattage or more efficient, low-glare LED bulb.
So, how many people does it take to screw in a light bulb? That question has many answers, but it may only take a few to reduce harmful lighting and save money, as well. That’s this week’s Cool Fix for a Hot Planet. I’m Quincy Campbell.
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