If you’re from a major metropolitan area such as Los Angeles or New York, then you’re surely familiar with all the bright lights that illuminate every busy intersection, billboard, department store and street. With the populous amount of lighting that turns any large city ablaze light pollution becomes a major problem. Light pollution is one of the culprits as to why we can’t even see the infinite amount of stars in the night sky; the other major culprit being air pollution. Combine the two together and you have a recipe for a smoggy, hazy atmosphere that blankets the city.
Aside from the fact that we have a lot, and I mean, a lot of lights in the city, why is light pollution such a rampant and growing problem? The reason could be because we’re not utilizing our lights correctly. Let’s use a small scale model as an example: let’s say you just purchased a table lamp for your living room. There’s nothing unusual about it, it has a basic accordion-styled lamp shade, a three-way power switch, and it uses a compact fluorescent bulb (because incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient). You understand that if you were to not use a lamp shade then the light wouldn’t be contained to one area of the room, scattering it in different areas. Granted that the light bulb is indeed bright, it wouldn’t be efficient and logical to not control where the light goes; that’s why we use the lamp shades.
Now, take that scenario and multiply it by 100 fold; the lack of control over outdoor lighting is a major reason why light pollution is such an issue. According to a light pollution article found on Wikipedia.org, there are a few ways that cities can help reduce light pollution such as improving lighting fixtures so that they’re fixed with lighting accuracy, reevaluating lighting plans and figure out where lighting is necessary, and even switching over to a different type of lighting (fluorescent versus incandescent bulbs).
Regardless, light pollution is bad for the environment and for our psyche. If the problem continues to grow, we’ll all soon forget what it’s like to be able to see the night sky. With proper control and improvements to city lights and household lighting, losing the look of a natural night sky and wasting light will not have to be a certainty.