Light Pollution Could Hide Stars In 20 Years, Scientists Say

Jun, 2023 - by CMI

Scientists warn that within 20 years, the ability to see the cosmos at night could be lost due to light pollution.

"The night sky is a part of our environment, and it would be a major deprivation if the next generation never got to see it, just as if they never saw a bird's nest," royal astronomer Martin Rees told The Guardian. "Astronomers have no reason to be concerned. I am not an ornithologist, but I would be destitute if there were no songbirds in my garden. Rees asserts that light pollution conditions have swiftly deteriorated in recent years, particularly after 2016, when astronomers estimated that a third of humanity could no longer see the Milky Way.

Scientists believe that light pollution brightens the night sky by 10% annually. "A few centuries ago, this magnificent view of the cosmos would have been commonplace, but today it is extremely rare," says Christopher Kyba of the German Centre for Geosciences. Only the world's richest and poorest have this. Kyba says everyone else has lost it. LEDs and other bright nocturnal illumination sources have worsened light pollution, which has been a concern for 50 years. Light pollution harms our ecology and stars' beauty.

Researchers discovered in 2019 that the issue is causing a "insect apocalypse" because light has a significant impact on how different insect species move, seek food, reproduce, grow, and conceal from predators. Light pollution confuses migratory animals and sea turtles that navigate by the moon. Researchers have demonstrated that longer nights provide a cover for criminal and other hazardous activity. However, there may be a simple remedy for light pollution. Rees and his research team are promoting their 2020 study, which proposes a number of measures to reduce illumination, including the appointment of a minister for dark skies, the establishment of a commission for dark skies, and the implementation of stringent lighting intensity and direction guidelines.