While we all stay home to save lives, shops were shut and city centres deserted. Everywhere was eerily quiet in an almost apocalyptic way. Everywhere seemed different, except for one thing: the artificial city lights still blazed. Why? What is the point?
The use of energy is a complete waste. It is not a small issue either. The International Dark-Sky Association states that this costs the US alone $3.3 billion and 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. As the climate crisis gets more and more urgent, turning off these night lights would be such an easy first step to slowing emissions, and would save money!
Over-illumination and light pollution are also damaging to the health of humans and other animals, causing diseases such as cancer and diabetes. This issue is increasing as the world urbanises, and amber light is replaced by starker, but cheaper LEDs. Animals as different as birds, sea turtles and beetles become disorientated and injured, city lights distracting them from their usual moonlight guidance.
I live in the countryside, and one big reason I give for preferring it is because in a city “you can’t see the stars”. A night-time walk with the stars twinkling above you is powerful, beautiful and increasingly rare. While a pitch-black city would definitely be unsafe for several reasons, more eco-friendly lighting is more vital than ever.