Light pollution has consequences.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists have recently started to investigate more the problem of light pollution that has taken its toll on various parts of the world.
It was established that 99 percent of the Europe population does not see the stars or the Milky Way during night time. But it is not only a problem of visual perspective but one that affects humans, animals, insects, and plants as well.
The most recent discovery is that light pollution affects the seasons as well. Based on the latest study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Exeter, spring is coming earlier every year. Worse, the spring start has been already shifted to one week sooner than the average period, especially in highly populated areas.
Scientists have come to this conclusion after they observed how trees react to the winter-spring transition. In areas where trees were surrounded by neon signs and street lamps, they started to manifest a spring-like behavior with 7.5 days earlier than usual.
Compared to this, trees from darker areas had no change in their behavior. According to Richard Constant, lead author of the study, the shifting season caused by this type of pollution might lead to a severe imbalance in the ecosystem.
For instance, moths rely on light to have a normal cycle of life, but artificial light is as strong as the daylight, these insects become confused and most probably they start dying. Winter moth caterpillars hatch based on the rhythm of the oak.
But if this rhythm becomes chaotic, they will no longer hatch normally. As a consequence, birds which rely on these caterpillars as a source of food will most likely starve, or they will have to search for food somewhere else.
Cities officials will receive the data collected during this study and hopefully, they will take active measures to tackle this situation. Humans are also affected by light pollution because we generally feel the need to sleep when the sun sets.
However, when artificial light replaces sunlight, a shift in our behavior occurs, so we become less likely to sleep. Changing our rest rhythm was associated by experts with depression, headaches, and the risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Efforts are being made to replace the artificial light with LED lights that were discovered to be less harmful than the previous ones. This initiative and many others are expected to be proposed by scientists in order to deal with light pollution.
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