Night skies connect the natural world. Protecting the night sky from light pollution is critical to the environment, wildlife, and our quality of life.
Less than 100 years ago, everyone could look up and see a spectacular starry night sky.
Now, millions of children across the globe will never experience the Milky Way where they live. The increased and widespread use of artificial light at night is not only impairing our view of the universe, but it is also adversely affecting our environment, our safety, our energy consumption, and our health.
Lighting that emits too much light or shines when and where it’s not needed is wasteful. Wasting energy has huge economic and environmental consequences.
In an average year in the U.S. alone, outdoor lighting uses about 120 terawatt-hours of energy, mostly to illuminate streets and parking lots. That’s enough energy to meet New York City’s total electricity needs for two years!
IDA estimates that least 30 percent of all outdoor lighting in the US alone is wasted, mostly by lights that aren’t shielded. That adds up to $3.3 billion and the release of 21 million tons of carbon dioxide per year! To offset all that carbon dioxide, we’d have to plant 875 million trees annually.
Plants and animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark rhythm to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep, and protection from predators. Scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on many creatures including amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, and plants.
Quality of life
Until recently, for all of human history, our ancestors experienced a sky brimming with stars – a night sky that inspired science, religion, philosophy, art, and literature, including some of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets.
The natural night sky is our common and universal heritage, yet it’s rapidly becoming unknown to the newest generations.