Science News

Earth Is Getting Brighter Every Year — It’s Not A Good Thing

Photo from Pixabay

The Earth’s night skies have been brightening at a rate of two percent each year, despite efforts from the International Dark-Sky Association to reduce artificial lighting.

The planet’s nighttime is brighter than decades ago: a breakthrough study released this November 22, 2017 found that light pollution and energy consumption from this lighting has been on the rise, Earth Sky reports.

Based on five years of satellite images, data shows that there is an increase of two percent yearly in the amount of the Earth’s surface that is artificially alight and in the volume of light produced.

The same study noted a link between a country’s economic development and the brightness of its skies, saying that there has been no decline in light pollution rates in developed nations, even with a switch to more environment-friendly LEDs.

Led by Christopher Kyba of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany, the team examined five years’ worth of images from the Suomi NPP satellite and saw the surges in light pollution everywhere. Several of the largest increases occurred in areas that had been unlit before.

This is one of the pioneering studies on the effects of light pollution, as seen from space, on the ongoing global transition to LED lighting. Since advocates of LEDs have argued that these newer lighting consume less energy and would help decrease global energy use, the researchers decided to test the idea.

Kyba said that he expects this trend to continue and believes this will soon have negative environmental consequences. IDA has been campaigning for the past 30 years to educate and inform people on the threats artificial lighting poses. According to IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend, said, “Today’s announcement validates the message IDA has communicated for years. We hope that the results further sound the alarm about the many unintended consequences of the unchecked use of artificial light at night.”

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