When you think about pollution, what comes to mind? From images of dirty, suffocating air, oceans crowded with plastic, and a dying environment, that is at least what most people associate with pollution. However, there is another type of pollution that is not often thought of: light pollution. Light pollution is “an unwarranted of outdoor lighting.” Light pollution “washes out starlight in the night sky, interferes with astronomical research, has adverse health effects and wastes energy.” Light pollution, along with most other forms of pollution, disrupts the overall coexistence of an ecosystem.
The effects of light pollution can largely be shown through sky glow, light trespass, and glare. Sky glow refers to the brightening of the sky due to natural and man-made factors. It is the orangey haze seen in the night sky over a city. Light trespass is light being cast where it is not wanted or needed. Think of a light from a streetlight or a floodlight that illuminates your bedroom at night making it difficult to sleep. Lastly, glare means exactly what you think it means. It is often thought of as “objectionable brightness.” Imagine driving a car at night, but as soon as a car approaches from the opposite way, you’re blinded by their lights, that’s glare.
Luckily, with the implementation of government policies, the effects of light pollution can be lessened or even reversed. The International Dark Sky Association details the need for public policies to soften the effects of light pollution. From efficient outdoor lighting, the negative effects of artificial light on human health, and reducing glare hazardous for transportation, government policies are necessary to counteract light pollution.