Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Energy-saving LEDs boost light pollution worldwide
Miami (AFP) Nov 22, 2017

They were supposed to bring about an energy revolution -- but the popularity of LED lights is driving an increase in light pollution worldwide, with dire consequences for human and animal health, researchers said Wednesday.

The study in the journal Science Advances is based on satellite data showing that the Earth's night is getting brighter, and artificially lit outdoor surfaces grew at a pace of 2.2 percent per year from 2012 to 2016.

Experts say that's a problem because nighttime lights are known to disrupt our body clocks and raise the risks of cancer, diabetes and depression.

As for animals, these lights can kill -- whether by attracting insects or disorienting migrating birds or sea turtles.

The issue isn't just the LED lights themselves, which are more efficient because they need far less electricity to provide the same amount of light, explained lead author Chris Kyba, a physicist at the German Research Center for Geosciences.

Rather, it's that people keep installing more and more lights, he told reporters on a conference call to discuss the research.

"We'll light something that we didn't light before, like a bicycle path though a park or a section of highway leading outside of town that in the past wasn't lit," he said.

"And so all of those new uses of light offset, to some extent, the savings that you had."

Experts call this the "rebound effect," and it can be seen with fuel-efficient cars, too. People may buy a car that requires less fuel, then decide to drive it more often or move further from work, lengthening their commute.

- First global night view -

The study was based on the first-ever radiometer designed especially for nightlights, called the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).

The VIIRS is mounted on the a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite named Suomi NPP, which has been orbiting Earth since October 2011.

Researchers only analyzed nighttime lights during the months of October, to avoid any increase from holiday lights.

"With few exceptions, growth in lighting occurred throughout South America, Africa, and Asia," said the report.

Declines in lighting were rare, but were noticeable in war-torn places like Syria and Yemen.

Some of the world's brightest areas, including Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the United States, were all relatively stable.

But even though Milan, for example, made the switch to LED lights and saw a drop in radiance over the 2012-2016 period, there were increases elsewhere in Italy.

"The fact that we did not see the country get darker means that there were new lights in other places, or else brighter lights that were in some other cities installed that make up for this difference," said Kyba.

Researchers also warned the data was likely an underestimate, because the satellite is unable to pick up the blue wavelengths that are prominent in many LED lights.

"We can say with fairly high confidence even though we didn't measure in the satellite an increase in these countries, they are nearly certainly increasing in brightness in terms of how human beings would perceive the light," Kyba said.

- Solutions to 'critical problem' -

One co-author of the study, Franz Holker, an ecologist at the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries, said the data reveal "quite a critical problem."

"Many people are using light at night without really thinking about the costs," he told reporters.

Seeing the big picture from above, he added, "completely changed how I use light at night."

Excess nighttime light not only harms natural habitats and makes stargazing impossible, it also costs nearly seven billion dollars annually in "negative impacts on wildlife, health, astronomy, and wasted energy," according to a 2010 study in the journal Ecological Economics.

The latest findings are "not a big surprise to people who have been following this issue," said Travis Longcore, an assistant professor of architecture, spatial sciences, and biological sciences at the University of Southern California School of Architecture.

Longcore, who was not involved in the study, described the 2.2 percent annual growth rate as "unsustainable."

The Arizona-based International Dark-Sky Association's executive director J. Scott Feierabend said the study "validates the message IDA has communicated for years" about the hazards of artificial night lights.

Solutions include using lower intensity lights, turning lights off when people leave an area, and choosing LED lights that are amber instead of blue or violet, since these tend to be the most harmful to animals and humans, experts say.

People also need to question their assumptions, for instance, that nighttime lights make the world safer.

"There is no conclusive evidence that additional light reduces crime," Longcore told AFP.

"In fact, there is some evidence that shows that additional lights increase crime because criminals can see what they are doing," he added.

"A lot of things we assume are necessary are just not. They are overkill."

Oil droplets from frying pan can cause indoor air pollution
Washington (UPI) Nov 20, 2017
When hot oil meats a droplet of water in the frying pan, oil droplets explode in all directions. These tiny oil explosions can send droplets out of the pan and burn a person's hands and arms. New research suggests some of the droplets are small enough to become suspended in the air, potentially contributing to indoor air pollution. These tiny drops of oil could be inhaled, researchers w ... read more

Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Head of Puerto Rico power authority resigns

Russia denies nuclear incident after contamination reports

EU's top diplomat 'encouraged' by Rohingya talks with Suu Kyi

Russia denies nuclear accident after radioactive pollution

Metal membranes in construction: From Russia with love

Innovative and ideal liquid-repellent surfaces developed by HKU scientists

New spin on old technique to engineer better absorptive materials

Ink from ancient Egyptian papyri contains copper

New research could predict La Nina drought years in US

Expansion of tuna quotas 'step backward' for conservation

Scripps scientists use photomosaic technology to find order in the chaos of coral reefs

Why does hot water freeze faster than cold water

Salt pond in Antarctica is fed from below

Study reveals structure and origins of glacial polish on Yosemite's rocks

A new timeline for glacial retreat in Western Canada

Research shows ice sheets as large as Greenland's melted fast in a warming climate

Intercropping formula promises food security in Sahel Africa

Portuguese cattle farmers desperately wait for rain

Urbanization may have a positive effect on the soils

Crunch time for food security

Thousands flee over Bali volcano eruption fears

Floods paralyse Saudi city of Jeddah

Greece unveils flood relief measures as death toll hits 20

7.0 quake off New Caledonia sparks tsunami alert but no damage

Six dead, including two soldiers, in DRCongo attack

US strike in Somalia kills more than 100 Shabaab fighters

Soldiers held without trial threaten 'new Gambia' reputation

Climate change and neglect threaten Senegal's Saint Louis

Human evolution was uneven and punctuated, suggests new research

Chimp study reveals how brain's structure shaped our evolution

High cognitive ability not a safeguard from conspiracies, paranormal beliefs

Study shows video games could cut dementia risk in seniors

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement