Dark Sky Initiatives: Bright Solutions to Light Pollution
Welcome to this week’s Wednesday Workshop! This week we’ll explore the impact of light pollution and how Groveland is approaching “Dark Sky” initiatives in new communities.
From religion to agriculture, early human societies based their entire livelihoods on the patterns of the stars. Yet today, stars in most cities are barely visible due to light pollution, an unfavorable byproduct of artificial light. In fact, 99% of Americans live under anthropogenic skyglow, a phenomenon in which electric lighting illuminates a naturally dark sky.
Light pollution has devastating effects on human health and animal behaviors. Artificial, nocturnal light (especially with high blue light content) disrupts the production of the hormone melatonin, which plays an integral role in the circadian rhythm, thus causing sleep deprivation, fatigue, and other health problems. In the natural world, artificial light confuses the sleeping habits, migration patterns, and habitat formations of wildlife, particularly birds and insects. Additionally, light pollution wastes energy and spoils otherwise beautiful, aesthetic environments. Therefore, limiting light pollution is essential for a healthy city with thriving ecosystems.
There are many Dark Sky organizations, but the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a United States-based nonprofit founded in 1988, is the globally-recognized and leading authority on light pollution. The IDA certifies various light fixtures with their “Fixture Seal of Approval,” which guides consumers in purchasing products that are both environmentally friendly and energy efficient by minimizing glare. Examples of Dark Sky certified technology includes the use of “warm-white” LED lighting, full cut-off shielded fixtures and adaptive controls (such as dimmers, timers and motion sensors).
Furthermore, the IDA also certifies “International Dark Sky Places,” which involves five categories: Parks, Communities, Reserves, Sanctuaries, and Urban Night Sky Places. The IDA accepts applications on a quarterly basis and the process can take up to 1-3 years for a location’s title to be formally designated. In 2009, the IDA awarded Harmony, Florida with the first “Dark Sky Development of Distinction Award” at Harmony’s Annual Dark Sky Festival for their comprehensive lighting scheme and local commitment to night sky protection.
With community support, Groveland has potential to join nearly thirty other International Dark Sky Communities in night sky stewardship! The image gallery shows examples of light pollution, Dark Sky technology, and International Dark Sky Communities, along with a photograph from Harmony, Florida.
Thank you for visiting and be sure to tune in again next week for another Wednesday Workshop!