NOAO < EDUCATION < FM21.8.03

The Social Implications of Light at Night

Summary: It has been shown that Light at Night (LAN) has serious implications for both the environment and human health. What is considered here are the social implications that arise from these problems, and what needs to be done to redress these issues.

Introduction: Light at Night is a serious environmental problem whose environmental and medical implications have been seriously underestimated. If no action is taken the problem will become progressively worse and may reach a point where nothing can be done about it. The issues arising from it need to be identified and appropriate action taken to mitigate these issues as far as possible. Hopefully this can be done amicably by self regulation within communities, but if this fails then stringent anti-light pollution legislation will have to be enacted. Some countries and local authorities have already begun to make faltering steps in this direction1, but so far the measures taken have been minimal and largely ineffective. Light at Night (and the light pollution resulting from it) therefore remains a problem and continues to get worse despite the measures already taken to reduce it. Domes of scattered light continue to hang above our cities, killing off our wildlife and endangering public health. Attitudes need to change and urgent measures need to be taken in order to reduce or eliminate its impact.

Colin Henshaw

AUTHORS/INSTITUTIONS: C. Henshaw, Health Studies and Training Centre, North West Armed Forces Prince Salman Hospital, Tabuk, SAUDI ARABIA

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