Dark skies are disappearing and ‘light pollution’ is to blame

A new study published in Park Science says that there could be a limit to viewing dark night skies.

The study, led by Robert Manning of the University of Vermont, said that “light pollution” is to blame for the disappearing dark night skies. The reason is that pollution from artificial light produces a “sky glow” that in-turn reduces the brightness of stars and hinders the human eye from fully adapting to natural darkness, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In 2000, there was an estimation that said 99 percent of the world’s skies were already polluted with light and that over two-thirds of Americans were unable to find the Milky Way when they looked up from their homes.

“It’s a typical story,” Manning says. “We begin to value things as they disappear. Fortunately, darkness is a renewable source and we can do things to restore it in parks.”

The study reported that 90 percent of the visitors to the Acadia National Park in Maine reported that they could not view the natural dark skies due to the pollution of artificial light. The study focused on how visitors rated the importance of viewing the night sky and the quality of it while visiting a national park.

The researchers believe that this study will help them to approach the problem of light pollution and enforce its importance and how it relates to the national parks. They are finding that the dark night skies are an attraction usually to Acadia as well as other national parks across the nation and that preservation of the natural views are important.

“Inside the park you want to reduce as much unnecessary light as possible.” Manning said. “Outside, the goal is to minimize light trespass. That’s more challenging, but possible.

All visitors to national parks can help to reduce the pollution by lowering the use of flashlights and headlights while parks work with the surrounding communities to reduce light pollution.

“Though light pollution may have already had irreversible biological and ecological impacts, it can be controlled and even reduced.” Manning stated. “The national parks, with their emphasis on protection of natural and cultural resources and the quality of visitor experiences are a good place to advance this cause.”



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