Light Pollution and the Dark Side of the Light Bulb

Entrepreneurship Campus

By Entrepreneurship Campus

Light Pollution and the Dark Side of the Light Bulb

It may sound strange, but some people have never seen the Milky Way. One night in 1994, Los Angeles was hit by an earthquake that caused a major power outage. People got out in pitch dark streets and then they were able to see a silvery cloud over their heads. It felt so abnormal that many called 911. It was just the Milky Way, something that many were able to see for the first time in their lives.

This is an example of the expression that pollution is everywhere, even when we are supposed to not see it. Light pollution is one of seven main types of environmental contamination. Besides the fact that it makes it possible to count a couple of stars in the sky, like any other type of pollution, nighttime brightness is having a toll on wildlife and human health.

For millions, even billions of years, life on earth has relied on the diurnal cycle aka, the day and night cycle. Yet, one of the greatest inventions in human history has been disrupting this cycle. The light bulb.
Although a big invention and a symbol for new and innovative ideas, the light bulb has a dark side.
As the human population has been growing, urban centers have expanded too, resulting in excessive artificial nighttime light and urban light pollution. How is this affecting life on earth?

Living beings, such as birds, reptiles, and some mammals have a small area in the middle of the brain that controls the circadian rhythm. The latter stands for the natural cycle of physical, mental, and behavioral changes that the body goes through in a 24hour cycle. In simple words, it’s affected by light and darkness. This rhythm is important because it determines universal sleeping and feeding patterns, brain wave activity, cell regeneration, hormone production, and other biological activities in animals and humans.
A 2016 research article pointed out that about 14 percent of the world’s population don’t use the evolutionary adapted ‘night vision’. The figure grew to 20 percent in Europe and 37 percent in the United States.

Moreover, the increased artificial night light doesn’t only impact the night vision, but it also disrupts the circadian rhythms. The light that we dump into our environment is endangering the world’s ecosystems and our health. It’s the same as with other types of pollution.
Light disrupts nocturnal ecology by affecting animals' hunting and breeding patterns, migratory birds’ routes, turtle hatchlings, the population of insects and pollinators, harmful algae blooms, etc.

Meanwhile, the adverse effects of excessive artificial light have been linked to various health problems including cancers due to reduction in Melatonin levels.

Invention and innovation

There are various ways to reduce light pollution. They vary from motion sensors to light-shielding, LED lighting, etc. All these are improvements to the existing light bulb. The light bulb case is a good example to understand sustainable innovation. The latter consists of creating something that improves the performance of existing options and that contributes to the ecological environment, social cohesion, and economic viability, without generating any sort of issue or waste in the product or service lifecycle.

On the other hand, innovations that are promoted as great ideas but rely only on profit have a dark side that might impact the environment and society.
The innovating process can sometimes be as easy as changing a light bulb, but it can be difficult too. The important thing is that numerous people around the world are working to make change happen.
Sustainable entrepreneurship is one guaranteed way that might bring about necessary transformation and bring together economic, social, and environmental values.

Are you tempted to bring such change? Learn entrepreneurship and gain the necessary skills and an innovation mindset. You can take advantage of the free online training offered by the Entrepreneurship Campus and further challenge yourself by joining the Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition with a sustainable idea or project.

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

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