What causes great light pollution

12.09.2018 09:08

Avoid the death of insects from light pollution

Dr. Carolin Liefke, House of Astronomy public relation
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy

Joint press release of the Vereinigung der Sternfreunde and the House of Astronomy in Heidelberg - Studies have found a dramatic decline in the number and biodiversity of flying insects in recent years. It has been proven that large numbers of nocturnal insects fall victim to light pollution - the brightening of the night by artificial light sources. In view of this, the Dark Sky specialist group of the Vereinigung der Sternfreunde e.V. calls for measures to reduce light pollution.

The natural alternation of bright day and dark night is the most fundamental rhythm of most living things and an important element of functioning ecosystems. Interruptions always mean a disruption. Artificial light at night should therefore be used with as little stress as possible.

Current research results on the dramatic decline in insects in the past year have brought light pollution into focus as one of the most important causes, for example in the key issues paper of the German federal government [1].

In view of the urgency of the problem, the VdS specialist group Dark Sky calls for recommendations for environmentally friendly and responsible lighting to be taken into account as soon as possible in planning and implementation, which essentially include light control, light quantity and light color. The corresponding technology has been around for years and must finally be used.

The voluntary working group "Dark Sky - Initiative against light pollution" of the Vereinigung der Sternfreunde e.V. has been dealing with this environmental issue for over 20 years and was already involved in studies at the University of Mainz on the effects of artificial light on insects 10 years ago [2]. These investigations in Düsseldorf showed that lamps with low blue and ultraviolet components attract significantly fewer insects. In this context, the rapid decline in insects was already pointed out at that time [3].

Two years ago, the specialist group published recommendations for the reduction of light pollution together with the “Commission Light Pollution” of the Astronomical Society and the Society of German-speaking Planetariums [4]. These notes are still up-to-date and are supported by more recent scientific studies. They help in a simple and effective way to reduce the dying of insects from artificial light sources. This also spares other species and humans from the negative effects of artificial light at night. These recommendations for sustainable artificial lighting, which go far beyond pure energy efficiency, are already being implemented in practice in the municipalities of the star parks, which have been built as model regions in recent years with the support of the Dark Sky specialist group.

The Dark Sky specialist group also worked on the creation of a brochure entitled “Sustainable Lighting” for the Hessian Ministry of the Environment, in which information for industry and commerce is given [5].

These measures recommended by the Dark Sky specialist group include the following points:
- Only use artificial light at night if it is absolutely necessary. In particular, near-natural areas should not be illuminated.
- With the help of fully shielded luminaires, light should only be directed where it is needed, on the traffic area or the area that is actually to be illuminated. In particular, no natural elements (trees, rocks, water) should be illuminated. In addition, no light may shine uselessly upwards and horizontally. This measure also helps prevent glare.
- The amount of light should be chosen as low as possible; a uniform illuminance of a few lux is often sufficient.
- Lights should only be switched on as required, for example by using timers, switches or motion detectors.
- White light should contain as few blue components as possible. That is why warm white and yellow light with an equivalent color temperature of less than 2700 Kelvin (K), but by no means above 3000 K, should be used.

Since these measures are easy to implement, the VdS specialist group Dark Sky is finally calling for them to be implemented quickly:
- Municipalities should take them into account in their planning and retrofitting, for example by including them in lighting regulations, lighting master plans or in development plans.
- Funding should be linked to the implementation of these measures.
- Architects, lighting planners and electrical companies carrying out the work must be made aware of these measures.
- Private households and retailers should be encouraged to implement the measures through comprehensive information.

The VdS Dark Sky specialist group is available for questions and support within the scope of its voluntary opportunities.

[1] www.bmu.de/pressemitteilung/bundeskabinett-beschliesst-eckpunkte-fuer-aktionsprogramm-zum-insektenschutz/

[2] Gerhard Eisenbeis: Street lighting and the environment - effect of conventional and modern street lighting lamps on the approach behavior of insects, State capital Düsseldorf, Jan. 2009
Gerhard Eisenbeis and Klaus Eick: Study on the attraction of nocturnal insects to street lighting using LEDs, nature and landscape 86, 2011, p. 298

[3] “This growing body of evidence strongly suggests that the diversity of insects has declined dramatically in Germany and England during the last decades. The implementation of insect friendly lighting systems may reduce the negative impacts on insects, but if the absolute lighting levels continue to increase then our cities will develop to nearly insect (and perhaps bird) free ghost towns far away from the formerly rich animal life. " in: Gerhard Eisenbeis and Andreas Hänel: Light pollution and the impact of artificial night lighting on insects, in M.J. McDonnell, A.K. Hahs, J.H. Breuste (ed.): Ecology of Cities and Towns, Cambridge, 2009, p. 260

[4] http: //www.lichtverschichtung.de/zubehoer/download.php? File = Resolution_ gegen_Lic ...

[5] M. Schmidt, A. Hänel: Sustainable outdoor lighting - information and recommendations for industry and commerce, Hessian Ministry for the Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Wiesbaden, 2017, https://umwelt.hessen.de/presse/pressemitteilung / how-to-reduce-light-pollution ...

The Vereinigung der Sternfreunde e.V. (VdS) is the largest association of amateur astronomers in German-speaking countries with over 4,000 members. It is dedicated to the maintenance and promotion of amateur astronomy through advice and exchange of experience in astronomical work. It also promotes contacts to specialist astronomy and popular education in astronomy, for example by organizing the annual astronomy day. Members can also use the observatory in Kirchheim and a magazine, the VdS-Journal für Astronomie, is published four times a year.
Contact: Vereinigung der Sternfreunde e.V., Postfach 1169, 64629 Heppenheim, www.vds-astro.de

Scientific contact:

Dr. Andreas Hänel
Dark Sky specialist group of the Vereinigung der Sternfreunde e.V., c / o Museum am Schölerberg, Osnabrück
Tel. 0541-5600326
[email protected]

Sabine Frank
Star Park Rhön
District of Fulda
Tel. 0661-60061659,
[email protected]

Additional Information:

https: //www.vds-astro.de/index.php? id = 74 & tx_ttnews% 5Byear% 5D = 2018 & tx_ttn ... - Web version of the message from the Star Friends Association
http://lichtverschicherung.de/ - Websites of the Dark Sky specialist group of the Vereinigung der Sternfreunde e.V.

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