By Marisa Nelson
The night sky is not only beautiful, it also benefits ALL living things. That is a big deal, and something we should certainly protect. Protect from what you ask? Excessive or unnecessary lighting known as light pollution.
The artificially brightened night sky is directly linked to measurable impacts on human health and immune function, as well as on behavioral changes of animal populations as many rely on celestial cues for navigation.  Light pollution also wastes money, energy, and decreases safety in our nighttime environment via glare. Plants and animals, along with humans, all have a circadian rhythm which is disrupted by artificial light, and the effects can be serious for all. Plus who doesn’t love to marvel at the Milky Way?!
Did you know?
Billions of birds migrate at night in the spring and in the fall, and lights from buildings attract and disorient them, causing millions to be killed by window collision. Let’s turn off excess lighting and promote safe passage of birds.
Sea turtles nest on beaches, and artificial light from beachside developments discourage females from nesting. Hatchlings can also become disoriented and wander inland instead of toward the moonlit ocean, which cause many to perish. Horseshoe crabs use the moon to time their arrival to mate and reproduce. Some bat species alter their routes due to light pollution, causing them to expend more energy. These are just a few examples.
Humans restore and repair their bodies during sleep. Melatonin, which is stimulated by darkness, plays an important role in cancer, as findings show the disruption of normal circadian rhythm may increase the risk of developing cancer, and increased melatonin reduces tumor growth and cell proliferation.
The good news is that light pollution can be reversed!
How you can help:
Assess the lighting outside of your home, and make improvements by switching to dark sky friendly bulbs and fixtures; and consider using timers and/or sensors. The ideal color bulbs that are least harmful to wildlife are warmer colors (less blue) with a Kelvin scale between 1800-2200. You can also advocate for a lighting ordinance in your town if there is none. Check out the links below to learn more, including opportunities to become a citizen scientist, to share info on social media, and to IDA certified lighting products.
Please consider joining the dark sky movement and help to preserve the beautiful night for all.
by Marisa Nelson
 Journal of Medicine & Life