Science Projects

Combating and Educating about Light Pollution

Lighting Myths

Light Pollution only affects astronomers

Whilst it is true that many astronomers first drew attention to the problems of light pollution and light trespass many other people are effected by this problem. Whilst astronomers are indeed seriously effected, many people from 'ordinary' walks of life have written to the campaign for dark skies seeking help with light pollution and trespass problems. Ignoring the loss of the night sky is no different from ignoring the extinction of habitat and species on earth. Few of us may have seen a humpback whale, and if they did become extinct, their demise is unlikely to effect us in our daily life, however, no-one would support their extinction because their loss doesn't effect us.


More lights are better

This is a statement which if thought about carefully is non-sense. We fit the appropriate level of lighting in our living rooms which is comfortable for the purpose. To put a 500W floodlight in the living room as the source of lighting is ridiculous. Some areas require careful lighting. Around airports you will note that lighting around the airport perimeter is subject to strict controls and is often downward lighting. Additionally there is no lighting on the runway except the navigation lights - aircraft land on dark airfields as the use of runway floodlights will cause discomfort glare and the pilot will be blinded by the light which naturally is extremely dangerous. Careful use of lighting with the source shielded to avoid glare is a much better source of lighting.


Installing security lights deters criminals

There appears to be no rigorous, independently verified evidence to support this view, although many lighting manufactures would like you to believe otherwise. In fact there are some views suggesting that installing such lighting can have the effect of attracting thieves. But the honest answer is that nobody really knows if lighting deters crime and it is dishonest to infer otherwise.


Installing security lights increases the security of a building

This is not so. Making a building safe through other security measures such as good locks, doors and windows does more to increase security than installing external lights. There have been numerous reports of schools installing security lights in otherwise 'un-vandalised' schools only to see outbreaks of vandalism and graffiti once the lighting was installed. Remember, vandals also require light to see what they are doing. Some schools in America have now removed their 'security' lighting and found the levels of vandalism stop or drastically reduce, and at the same time saved themselves many thousands of dollars in electricity bills.


Brighter floodlights are better

This is certainly not always the case. In fact, for safety purposes a lower wattage bulb is often much more desirable, as the bright 300W and higher wattage floodlights will create hard shadows and will hinder one's ability to see into these shadowy areas. A 40w bulb or equivalent is good at creating a gentle pool of light without creating these deep shadows and therefore allows one to easily see into the shadow areas.

Installing road lighting reduces car accidents

Whilst there are certain areas on the UK road network where the upgrading or installation of lighting can assist in reducing accidents, it is not the case that increasing or installing road lighting alone will reduce accidents. Frequently other road engineering solutions are required such as alteration of road layout, reducing speeds and replacement or installation of signs etc. as well as lighting are used to reduce accidents.

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