Less than 100 years ago, anyone could look up on a clear night and see thousands of stars. Now, millions of children cannot experience the Milky Way where they live.
The increased and widespread use of artificial light at night is not only impairing views of the galaxy, but also adversely affecting the environment, safety, energy consumption and the natural world.
Light pollution is a side effect of industrial civilization. Its sources include building exterior and interior lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights and illuminated sporting venues.
Much of the outdoor lighting in the United States is inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, creating light trespass (light falling where it is not intended or needed), improperly shielded fixtures and, sometimes, completely unnecessary lighting, according to the International Dark-sky Association. This light, and the electricity needed to create it, is being wasted.
Eagle Mountain City proactive
One of the primary reasons that residents move to Eagle Mountain is to “get away” from it all.
Recognizing the beauty of the night sky, and that residents can have an impact on preserving it, Eagle Mountain City has proactively taken measures to ensure the night sky is observable for years to come.
In Nov. 2014, as the City was expanding its development and population, the Eagle Mountain City Council approved an outdoor lighting ordinance that requires full cut-off light fixtures for all exterior lighting, effectively making it dark-sky compliant.
The City Council, in doing so, followed the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) standard, which encourages the use of fixtures that cast little or no light upward in public areas and generally encourages neighborhoods to adopt lighting regulations.
These recommended fixtures are designed to reduce light pollution, minimize glare and reduce light trespass. Please note that these ordinances do not call for eradicating all light. To do so would be unsafe in a thriving community.
Dark-sky lighting is a concept very important to the dark-sky movement. It greatly minimizes light pollution. The IDA is the recognized authority on light pollution and is the leading organization combating light pollution worldwide.
The movement started with professional and amateur astronomers becoming alarmed that nocturnal skyglow from urban areas was blotting out the sight of stars. For example, the world-famous Palomar Observatory in California is threatened by sky-glow from the nearby city of Escondido and local businesses.
Because light at night can be so potentially problematic, the IDA created the Dark Sky Places Program in 2001 to encourage communities worldwide to adapt responsible lighting policies to cut back on light pollution.
Eagle Mountain lighting requirements
Details of the City Council’s 2014 decisions and subsequent updates are included in the Community Standards Guide, Exterior Lighting Requirements, and the Outdoor City Lighting Code found on the Eagle Mountain City Website.
You can help
It is encouraging to note that light pollution, unlike some other forms of pollution, is reversible, to an extent, and everyone can make a difference. The IDA suggests residents begin by minimizing light from their own home at night. Some of the ways of doing this are as follows:
- Only use lighting when and where it is needed.
- If safety is a concern, install motion detector lights and timers.
- Properly shield all outdoor lights.
- Keep your blinds drawn at night to keep light inside.
- Turn off lights when not using them.
- Don’t use excessive illumination.
- Use energy-efficient lighting sources and fixtures.
- Spread the word to family, friends and neighbors, asking them to pass it on.
Energy use/carbon dioxide
The federally-funded National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) estimates that poorly aimed and unshielded outdoor lights waste more than 17 billion kilowatt-hours of energy each year in the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 13% of home electricity usage goes toward outdoor lighting. More than one-third of the light is lost to skyglow, resulting in about $3 billion wasted per year. About 15 million tons of carbon dioxide are released each year to power outdoor lighting, and the IDA estimates that wasted light releases 21 million tons of CO2 annually.
Light pollution can impact nature
Travis Longcore, a biogeographer with the Urban Wildlands Group in Los Angeles, told National Geographic, “Wildlife species have evolved on this planet with biological rhythms. Changing that has profound effects.”
As an example, light at night throws off the biological clocks of nocturnal animals. The Sea Turtle Conservancy says sea turtles are affected in several ways – first by discouraging them from nesting. Baby sea turtles, which hatch at night, typically find their way to the sea by looking for horizon lights. Artificial lights along the shore throw them off and draw them away from the ocean.
Artificial lights can interfere with the migration patterns of nocturnal birds that use the stars and moon for navigation. Birds can become disoriented by lights and may collide with brightly lit towers and buildings.
For frogs and toads, when nighttime croaking is interrupted, so is their mating ritual and reproduction.
Eagle Mountain City appreciates input
Eagle Mountain City says that it welcomes and appreciates the concerns of its residents and hopes for continued partnership to help the City make improvements.