Jude Revill 2019

Light Pollution

Did you know that the cost of our public lighting rises into the billions of dollars, and releases millions of tons of greenhouse gases, just to be wasted? Not only is it wasted, it actually has negative effects on the environment, humankind, and the animal kingdom. Hello, my name is Jude, and I am here to present my findings on the deleterious effects of light pollution in Australia, and to prove to you that the Australian government must take measures to reduce light pollution. Ever since the light bulb was developed in the 1800’s, we have been filling our homes and our streets with artificial light. Now there are millions, if not billions of lights in Melbourne alone. This issue has gotten to the point that there is so much excess light that the sky itself is illuminated in a fuzzy haze every single night. This excess light disrupts natural ecosystems, causes issues with our health, and wastes money and harms the environment. To solve these three main effects of light pollution, certain action must be taken by Australian government.

First of all, light pollution disrupts the meticulous cycle of natural ecosystems, and causes a chain reaction that resonates throughout thousands of kilometres and effects hundreds of species. According to National Geographic, the animal kingdom relies on the day/night cycle to maintain breeding patterns, migration cycles and feeding cycles. Because of the increased light levels, birds or other species may migrate early, because it may look like it is a different time of year. This can mean that food in this new area may not have grown yet, causing an entire population of a species to starve. For this reason, and similar ones, the Australian government needs to be convinced that light pollution must be reduced in order to save thousands of animal lives from a cruel demise in the form of slowly starving to death. Not just do animals starve, they cannot replace their numbers, because breeding cycles are also disrupted. Unless we implement certain solutions, this is the cruel fate that awaits our beloved native Australian species as a result of light pollution.

Secondly, light pollution causes our circadian rhythms to be altered. This means that our ‘biological clock’ is thrown into dismay. One aspect of this is that light pollution causes our melatonin levels to decrease by up to 50%. Melatonin is responsible for maintaining bodily functions, like metabolism, immune functions and the release of hormones. With this loss of melatonin, we sleep less and may be more susceptible to heart disease, obesity and cancer, as stated by Harvard Medical School. In a small Harvard study, 10 people had their sleep schedule and body clock to be slightly shifted. It was found that the hormone responsible for leaving people feel full after a meal was not being released in as high quantities as normal, which can lead to excessive eating. The fact that light pollution not only has no benefits, but actually has a number of negative effects on health is reason enough on its own that the Australian government must enforce a reduction of light pollution.

Finally, light pollution wastes billions of dollars and produces millions of tons of greenhouse gases worldwide. In Australia alone, many of our local councils and governments had 30-60% of their total carbon emissions from public lighting. To solve issues such as the ones I have enlightened you to, efficient lighting that focusses the beam of light can reduce the amount of electricity needed to power lights. Streets can have sensors at each end that light up the street while cars or pedestrians are in the vicinity, and paired with the previous two solutions, hours of darkness can be implemented. Australia alone spends $125 million on public lighting. Light pollution causes an immense waste of resources, and must be acted upon. Do you really want your parent’s hard earned money going to the government in the form of tax to be spent on the destruction of ecosystems and the degradation of our health?

Now, you may be thinking: “we can’t have hours of darkness because then no one can see.” Your opinion is valid, but as I previously stated, hours of darkness would be paired with sensor light and efficient lighting. If the environment and your own health matters to you, then urge Australian governments to act upon light pollution in the form of the solutions I have presented. These solutions, with the help of you and Australian governments, can solve light pollution. Thank you.