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What is “light polution”?



Gerd Krüger - Lichter09

Photo: Gerd Krüger

“Light pollution” is a term that could be misunderstood. But, of course, it does not refer to the pollution of light, but to pollution caused by light – i.e. when artificial light invades the dark and the night is “lost”. Scientists have found that, globally, artificial light at night is increasing by six percent each year. For us humans, light represents safety and prosperity, which is why we like to illuminate our streets and buildings with innumerable lamps at night. But as well as using up vast quantities of energy, this light pollution impacts on human health and the natural environment.

Scientists working in the interdisciplinary research project Loss of the Night, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, are investigating the ecological, health, cultural and socioeconomic impact of light pollution and the reasons why our nights are getting ever brighter. Their findings will provide a basis for devising modern lighting concepts and sustainable lighting technologies.

More information on the activities within the Loss of the Night project can be found here.

Too much light can have a damaging effect. A TV report (in German) by NDR.

Katharina Gabriel, scientific coordinator for the Loss of the Night research project, answered this question.