The switch to outdoor LEDs has resulted in even more light pollution

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Most people understand the threats posed by various types of pollution, but the potential damage light pollution can have on our health and the ecosystem doesn’t always get a lot of attention. Moving to outdoor LED lighting was supposed to help the problem, but it's made matters worse.

An international team of scientists used satellite-based sensors to determine if the Earth’s surface is getting darker or brighter at night and to find out if LEDs are saving energy.

What it found was that due to the lower energy costs associated with light-emitting diodes, many areas use the savings to buy even more LEDs—a practice the researchers call the “rebound effect.” This means the amount of outdoor lighting has been increasing over the last few years.

"We'll light something that we didn't light before, like a bicycle path through a park or a section of highway leading outside of town that in the past wasn't lit," said Christopher Kyba, the study’s lead author.

“The world has experienced widespread 'loss of the night,' with half of Europe and a quarter of North America experiencing substantially modified light-dark cycles," the researchers explained.

Outdoor illumination grew at around 3 to 6 percent per year in the second half of the 20th century. The new analysis, which was only conducted in October to avoid extra illumination from the holiday period, found artificially lit outdoor areas grew by 2.2 percent from 2012 to 2015, while total radiance growth increased 1.8 percent each year.

60 countries saw their nighttime illumination increase between 100 – 150 percent during these three years, while 20 others recorded a jump of 150 percent or more. Growth mostly occurred throughout South America, Africa, and Asia, while War-torn zones like Syria and Yemen saw declines. Developed nations such as the US, which were already brightly lit, remained stable.

As the Day-Night-Band sensor onboard the Suomi NPP weather satellite used to collect this data cannot see the bluer wavelengths emitted by many LEDs, the planet is likely to be even brighter at night than results suggest.

"We can say with fairly high confidence even though we didn't measure in the satellite an increase in these countries, they are nearly certainly increasing in brightness in terms of how human beings would perceive the light," says Kyba.

The move from older technology like filaments, gas, and plasma to LEDs could have an impact on human health by affecting levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and disrupting our circadian rhythm. It’s also a problem for nocturnal animals, plants, and microorganisms.

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Rippleman

TS Evangelist
As with anything, whether its food, cell phone mins, data, fuel, water, etc... the cheaper something is, the MORE people will use it.
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
There is a law on the books that talks about outdoor lighting around military installations where night vision devices are used. It calls for a ban on ALL outdoor lighting after sundown. Of course, it has never been enforced and it's rational was valid (when using a night vision device, standard lighting can temporarily blind the crew, especially helicopters) but somewhat short sighted (no pun intended). Doesn't matter the source of the lighting so it would appear this law is also invalid, especially when you consider how much municipal and federal roadway lighting exists. Just an interesting tid bit I uncovered recently .......
 
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Predson

TS Rookie
Left out is the idea that light creates heat. Quantum mechanics says that photons emitted as light cause atomic friction on contact with anything in their path. This has been used personally to effectively heat a buildingwith fluorescent light during winter for more than ten years. Constantly being told this is impossible, silence ensues when in the presence of the evidence.

Urban light heats the atmosphere and surfaces it falls upon to increase global heating.
 
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Jericho101

TS Rookie
Left out is the idea that light creates heat. Quantum mechanics says that photons emitted as light cause atomic friction on contact with anything in their path. This has been used personally to effectively heat a buildingwith fluorescent light during winter for more than ten years. Constantly being told this is impossible, silence ensues when in the presence of the evidence.

Urban light heats the atmosphere and surfaces it falls upon to increase global heating.
People can and DO deliberately consume more energy than required, and sometimes with spite. Oh what will we be in 200 years devouring things the way we do?!?!?!
 

Adhmuz

TechSpot Paladin
Left out is the idea that light creates heat. Quantum mechanics says that photons emitted as light cause atomic friction on contact with anything in their path. This has been used personally to effectively heat a buildingwith fluorescent light during winter for more than ten years. Constantly being told this is impossible, silence ensues when in the presence of the evidence.
Left out are all the crucial details to back up your claim. Enough of those inverters used to power fluorescent lights would heat up any space, you leave out how many lights are use and how big the space you are heating is, as well as the climate you reside in, the quality of the insulation used, how many windows, ect.