Have you ever been outside at night on a ship? Or maybe in the mountains? Or even in a rural area, far away from a major city? Looking up at such a sky makes you feel like you can reach up and touch the stars. “Why doesn’t the sky look like this where I live?” you might wonder.
The answer is simple: lighting. Too much lighting, and used in the wrong way. While we are all very aware these days of the need to “go green” and protect the environment, only a few of us realize the deleterious effect that too much lighting has on people, animals and the environment. Studies have shown that excessive nighttime lighting contributes to the death of baby sea turtles and migrating night birds, just to name two examples. And humans are also suffering from a lack of nighttime exposure. Too much lighting has been linked to increased crime and traffic accidents, poor sleep habits, and even a variety of mental and physical ailments in humans.
The Virginia Living Museum is working hard to improve its lighting practices. We have installed full cutoff parking lot and trail lighting that prevents unneeded light from shining up into the sky. We have begun replacing older, inefficient lighting solutions with new ones. But there is still much more we can do. You can join us in our quest to improve lighting practices by visiting the International Dark Sky Association. There you will find numerous resources to help you help us take back the night.
You can help reduce light pollution
Install environmentally responsible outdoor lighting that is
- directed toward the ground
- uses timers/dimmers/motion sensors
Unshielded fixtures that create glare and splatter light everywhere may make a property less safe by not focusing the light where it is needed.
The downward concentration of light created by fully shielded fixtures typically requires a lesser wattage lamp than traditional lighting because every bit of illumination is directed where it can make a difference.
Light pollution produces a continual state of “twilight” in the habitats around us. This twilight affects the mating habits, feeding patterns, and navigational skills of animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects. Even certain trees are induced to shed their leaves out of cycle, disrupting the basis of the food chain.