Our night lights are eating away night sky! Lifestyle to blame?

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Our night lights are eating away night sky! Lifestyle to blame?
Earth at Night

Researchers have revealed through satellite based observations that our night lights are not only getting brighter but they are eating away our night sky – something that is of immense beauty in its own right.

Light pollution is the word we can use indisputably with scientists pointing out that the increase in light-emitting diode (LED) outdoor lighting is steadily increasing over much of the planet. Scientists have also challenged assumption that increases in the energy efficiency of outdoor lighting technologies necessarily lead to an overall decrease in global energy consumption.

For their study published in journal Science Advances, scientists analyzed five years of images from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite to discover that there has been gains of two percent per year in both the amount of the Earth’s surface that is artificially lit at night and the quantity of light emitted by outdoor lighting. Increases were seen almost everywhere the team looked, with some of the largest gains in regions that were previously unlit.

The study is among the first to examine the effects, as seen from space, of the ongoing worldwide transition to LED lighting. Kyba’s team found that the energy saving effects of LED lighting on country-level energy budgets are lower than expected from the increase in the efficiency of LEDs compared to older lamps.

LED lighting requires significantly less electricity to yield the same quantity of light as older lighting technologies. Proponents of LED lighting have argued that the high energy efficiency of LEDs would contribute to slowing overall global energy demand, given that outdoor lighting accounts for a significant fraction of the nighttime energy budget of the typical world city.

The team tested this idea by comparing changes in nighttime lighting seen from Earth orbit to changes in countries’ gross domestic product, or GDP — a measure of their overall economic output — during the same time period. They concluded that financial savings from the improved energy efficiency of outdoor lighting appear to be invested into the deployment of more lights. As a consequence, the expected large reductions in global energy consumption for outdoor lighting have not been realized.

LED lighting requires significantly less electricity to yield the same quantity of light as older lighting technologies. Proponents of LED lighting have argued that the high energy efficiency of LEDs would contribute to slowing overall global energy demand, given that outdoor lighting accounts for a significant fraction of the nighttime energy budget of the typical world city.

The team tested this idea by comparing changes in nighttime lighting seen from Earth orbit to changes in countries’ gross domestic product, or GDP — a measure of their overall economic output — during the same time period. They concluded that financial savings from the improved energy efficiency of outdoor lighting appear to be invested into the deployment of more lights. As a consequence, the expected large reductions in global energy consumption for outdoor lighting have not been realized.

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