Many Innsbrook property owners come to the resort to escape our tech-focused, plugged-in culture and the urban lights that block the view of the night sky. But this so-called "light pollution" disrupts more than just star-gazing. Harsh artificial lights can actually put your health at risk and distort the environment's natural ecosystem.
Scientific studies show that light pollution can negatively impact a wide range of creatures, from humans and other mammals to birds, amphibians, invertebrates, and even plants! Animals and plants innately depend on the Earth's rotation to regulate basic life functions like sleep, nourishment, hibernation, reproduction, migration, immunity, and the interaction between predators and prey. Any change to that natural light cycle can influence how those processes unfold.
The International Dark Sky Association, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of light pollution, sets forth several examples of how harsh artificial lights are changing the ecological landscape, such as by:
- Masking the phases of the moon that the Great Barrier Reef coral rely upon to reproduce
- Luring sea turtle hatchlings away from the sea after birth, to their deaths
- Interfering with bird migration
- Depleting food webs and sources of pollination by killing large numbers of insects attracted to lights
- Disrupting the breeding rituals of frogs and toads.
Other species affected by light pollution include bees, bats, owls, mice, fireflies, geckos, Monarch butterflies, Atlantic salmon, penguins, hummingbirds, wallabies, fish, zooplankton and many others.
Humans in particular suffer when their circadian rhythm is disrupted by light pollution in the home, which can cause hormonal imbalance, insomnia, low melatonin, mood and psychological symptoms, weight gain, sluggish metabolism, and immune system dysfunction. Some research links the poor-quality sleep caused by harsh artificial light to a rise in Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, mental health issues, and other problems. Plus, the glare of artificial lights at night can even harm people's vision over time, especially amongst aging populations.
The bottom line is that artificial lighting at night is just that - unnatural. It is important to think about the bigger-picture impact upon heath and wellness, plants and animals, and the ecosystem.
Even small adjustments in the use of artificial lighting at night can make a difference. Consider solutions such as:
- Avoiding blue light - the most harmful to circadian rhythm - at night, including blue lights from cell phones, televisions, laptops, tablets and other devices;
- Adjusting device settings to reduce blue lighting at night;
- Replacing digital clocks, radios, and chargers in the bedroom with versions that don't emit light;
- Choosing dimmer red, amber or warm white lighting;
- Shining outdoor lighting fixtures down, instead of up;
- Turning lights off at night or using a timer;
- Encouraging local governments to institute lighting ordinances and select street lights that shine downwards and don't glare.
Innsbrook is proud of its work to reduce light pollution and to keep the night sky natural. After all, living in harmony with nature means enjoying the beauty and vast expanse of the dark sky. We continue to learn more about energy-efficient lighting and how we can reduce light pollution by making updates to some of our older-model fixtures. Do you notice a difference in the clarity of the night sky and how well you sleep and feel when you're here at Innsbrook? Let us know!
Research and graphic used with permission from the International Dark-Sky Association, www.darksky.org.