Is light pollution killing our birds?
- Challenge magazine, Summer 2006.
The BBC now agrees with Colin Henshaw that the night habitat of nocturnal creatures has been lost - note that so too do Butterfly Conservation WRT Britian's moths and so too does the Bat Conservation Trust. The story WRT insects however can be traced back to 1897 and electricirity "extirpating" English songbirds, since 113 years ago, by killing off their insect food supply, apparently? English songbirds are in decline - and magpies cannot be blamed however habitat change is blamed by the Telegraph - funny that the media simply ignore the 24 hour day. I wonder why? The Mail seems to blame sparrowhawks, apparently? Did you know that Professor Gerhard Eisenbeis believes that light at night sucks insects to their deaths like a vacuum cleaner, apparently? (Chapter 12, page 283, Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting, Island Press, 2006). So as we continue into the 21st century, with India and China wanting to "keep the lights ON" - look out insectivores - your insect food supply will be "sucked to its death like a vacuum cleaner" - sad but true, apparently?
Many animals depend on the regular rhythms of day and night to keep themselves regulated (called the circadian rhythm). Some are nocturnal and depend on the dark nights to allow them to hunt. Many moths and some insects only come out at night to mate and reproduce. In many areas the high levels of light pollution is confusing these animals and disrupting the patterns of their life. They are experiencing the 24 hour day! In millions of years of evolution there has been little or no night light except above or below the Arctic and Antarctic circles.
An American butterfly scientist has commented that with 24 hour daylight, caused by light pollution, the life cycle of diurnal butterflies are "compromised"! The actual expletive used has been deleted to protect the innocent! Those with forensic inclinations can take a clue from "****ed" being very close to the word which was actually used!
The BIG problem with light pollution are its "hidden" hazards! You can learn more from Dr. John Mason's presentation on You Tube - the full movie could once be accessed from Brian May's web site HERE (50MB). Sadly this URL no longer works BUT it ia hoped to replace it? BTW No-one is seeing the "hidden" harm? No-one is either interested or able to recognise that they exist!
Those in power, those in control, will only act when the crisis occurs! Crisis management at its typical worst?
Nothing new there then ?
How do we cope with the absence of our natural circadian experience?
But what about our Environment NOW?
A brief review by Graham Cliff (submitted to CfDS) of The Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting Edited by Catherine Rich and Travis Longcore, 2006. Published by Island Press/Washington/Covelo/London ISBN 1-55963-129-5 (pbk:alk.paper) (Amazon £20.95 delivery "free")
I have been an amateur astronomer for 53 years and I have seen the insidious growth of Light Pollution (LP). I have been a research scientist (now retired) in analytical electron microscopy for 39 years. I warned over 30 years ago of the "hidden" harm of nanoparticles - no one listened. I campaign now about LP - no one listens. The ability to analyse makes this book, for me, by Rich and Longcore an analytical "gold mine"!
It is a follow-up to the Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting conference that the editors organised at UCLA in February 2002, sponsored by The Urban Wildlands Group and that University's Institute of the Environment.
I could write a book about my reasons for endorsing its content but I like brevity and therefore I will recommend ALL of this book but refer to only two details.
The first is that chapter 13 is by Kenneth D. Frank and deals with lighting and moths. Ken Frank, now there is a name to conjure with? Ken produced the seminal paper about lighting and moths in 1988 and had only one reference to it over the next decade and more (See below)! It appears from my researches that it is now one of the most referenced papers in LP analysis and evaluation.
The second detail is chapter 12 by Gerhard Eisenbeis. Here he states that "The (last) situation is what I call the "vacuum cleaner" effect. Insects that otherwise are not moving (either foraging or migrating) are drawn to their deaths by lights. Insects are sucked out of habitat as if by a vacuum……."!
Insects are at the base of the food chain. Sir David Attenborough, in his programme "Life in the Undergrowth", concluded his last programme by saying of insects that "…we would do well to remember them."
Our leaders would do well to read this book and understand its implications. These are there to be seen, just like light pollution! Just like light pollution they are simply ignored!
If they read this book then they will have a better understanding of that which they so far have lacked? Moreover we may see something done about LP before it is "just too late" (referenced in Challenge magazine page 20, Summer 2006).
Light Pollution - There are a lot of impacts on wildlife?
According to Dr. John W. Mason there are a lot of impacts on wildlife. We are only just beginning to understand the HUGE (and "hidden") number of impacts that lighting at night is having on flora and fauna. (for background read HERE). We haven't even really scratched the surface? More and more research projects are looking at it.
You can see the video of John's presentation at the CfDS Dark Sky Symposium in Portsmouth, England, September 2006 by clicking HERE.
The Unnatural Ecology of Artificial Light at Night.
Week of April 20, 2002; Vol. 161, No. 16 , p. 248
Deprived of Darkness
The unnatural ecology of artificial light at night
In 1988, physician and amateur moth enthusiast Kenneth D. Frank published a scientific paper that pulled together much of what researchers then knew about the consequences of artificial night-time lighting on moths. That paper is the closest thing the nascent field of artificial-light ecology has to a classic work. It didn't exactly trigger the response one might expect from a seminal study, however. The report has received precious little attention and stimulated no immediate cascade of follow-up research. Frank recently searched the scientific literature to count how many subsequent papers had made reference to his study—and found exactly one.
Nevertheless, Frank and a handful of other scientists are endeavoring to synthesize a coherent understanding of the ecological effects of artificial light on a multitude of organisms. These efforts are gradually gaining momentum.
For interest have a look here at this site, in of all places Vietnam, and look at what is said about insects being killed by light pollution -
If this URL fails then try this one -
If all the above URLs faile then read my archive DOC file here -http://www.lightpollution.org.uk/dwnLoads/LP_Ho_Chi_Minh_City_Quay_v%E1%BB%81_trang_t%C3%ACm_ki%E1%BA%BFm.docx
Turn Down The Lights by Eric Scigliano - Discover 2003
Renown journalist Eric Scigliano put his impressions concerning light pollution into print in Discover magazine. His article was published in July 2003 but remains fresh and readable. Try it for size at -