Royal Commission on Artificial Light in the Environment

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Colin Henshaw
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Royal Commission on Artificial Light in the Environment

Post by Colin Henshaw »

About two years ago submissions were invited to the Royal Commision on Artificial Light in the Environment.

The following account was submitted, but when the Royal Commission published its report it was not credited, probably due to the INCOMPETENCE of the person to whom it was sent.
It is therefore included here.



Royal Commission Study on Artificial Light in the Environment (RCEP)

Contribution by COLIN HENSHAW

Light pollution:

Causes:

• Street lighting.
• Security lighting, including antisocial lighting installed by inconsiderate neighbours.
• Commercial lighting (usually high-rise office buildings).
• Advertising, involving illuminated bill boards, flashing signs, outdoor T.V. screens, skybeams and lasers.
• Decorative lighting: this includes floodlighting, and so-called art involving the use of night-time illumination.
• Sports lighting.



Response to Issues Raised

Artificial Light can enhance monuments or locales in different ways (for example York Minister and Piccadilly Circus). Is it possible to identify the circumstances where man-made light provides an enhanced æsthetic?

Some lighting has been traditional, such as Piccadilly Circus or Blackpool Illuminations. These are part of our cultural heritage and should be preserved. However the level of lighting employed should not be excessive, and its effects should not be detectable beyond the immediate area (in these cases Piccadilly Circus and the Blackpool promenade).

Conversely, are there cases where artificial lighting is æsthetically damaging?

In these days of concern about energy wastage, there is absolutely no justification to illuminate public buildings, churches and monuments. Lighting should only be applied where it serves a useful purpose. Decorative lighting is definitely not useful.

Such lighting is totally inappropriate in suburban and rural areas where it can be damaging to bats, birds and insects. Limited use in urban areas can be permitted provided it is aimed downwards and is not visible from surrounding areas.

This can be extended to include regeneration follies installed by local councils under the pretext of self-aggrandisement, encouraging business and tourism to depressed areas. There has been a proliferation of crass schemes over the past ten years ranging from ill-conceived “art” projects, skybeams, lasers and halos in the sky.

Examples: The Stockport Skybeam, The Southampton Laser Gateway (both overturned by environmentalist opposition), the Barnsley “Sky Halo:” (now abandoned), the Mablethorpe “Star of the East.” The Rosendale Panopticons, the Aluna Project, the Merseyside River of Light, the “Big Art” in St. Helens, the Chesterfield “Solar Pyramid,” (now relocating to Dorset, but later, hopefully abandoned), illuminated wind turbines to promote green energy use by “Good Energy” at Delabole in north Cornwall, the Blackpool Lasers. Abroad there are the Luxor Skybeam in Las Vegas and the Columbus Memorial Lighthouse, in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic.
There is no justification for any of the above schemes. They’re just a waste of money.

What are the effects on fauna and flora?

Lights attract insects that fly around them aimlessly until they drop to the ground. The insects are then too tired either to feed or to procreate. Decades of intense lighting, throughout the night, 365 nights a year has swept up insects over wide areas. It has been said that lighting sucks up insects like a vacuum cleaner. Their numbers have declined and this has had a concomitant effect of higher order consumers such as birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and spiders. Environmental groups have reported declines in common species of all kinds, and these correlate negatively with the expansion of street, security, commercial and decorative lighting over the past forty or fifty years.

Small insects attracted to lights may well be killed outright as the lights get extremely hot.

Insects are also important as pollinators, so as their numbers decline, so does the number of successful pollinations. Consequently plant diversity declines which exacerbates the already declining insect population as they will have less on which to feed.

Insects are attracted more to lights containing blue and ultra-violet, such as halogen, mercury, and high-pressure sodium. Low-pressure sodium, being monochromatic, is less damaging. Nevertheless it is still harmful, especially as it is used so extensively. All lighting is therefore culpable.

Diurnal insects can even be affected if the lighting is so intense it tricks them into thinking it is daylight. Butterflies, dragonflies, house-flies and bees can all be attracted to bright lights.

The migration patterns of birds and bats are known to be affected by street lighting, and light emitted by high rise buildings.

Lighting disrupts circadian rhythms both in animals and plants. The flowering cycle in plants can be affected as excessive light at night tricks the plants into behaving as if it was summer, resulting in them flowering early. The downside of this is that it may affect crop production.

Is there any evidence for effects on human health of environmental artificial light (as opposed to indoor illumination)?

It has been shown that the incidence of breast and prostate cancer is greater in light polluted areas. Children sleeping in bedrooms illuminated by street lights are more prone to myopia (short sightedness). Flashing lights could possibly trigger epileptic fits in some people. Intrusive street lighting penetrating bedrooms can disrupt sleep patterns. Bad lighting can precipitate neighbour disputes.

If there is, what are the effects, and what are their likely impacts.

The cancers have been linked to the fact that nocturnal illumination suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin is oncostatic, inhibiting the formation of cancers. This is backed up by the fact that blind women suffer less breast cancer. Furthermore it regulates circadian rhythms. Exposure to light at inappropriate times can lead to sleep deprivation, depression and impaired thinking.

What is the relationship between lighting and crime/accidents?

Most crime occurs in daylight ergo criminals need light. Consequently street lighting does not reduce crime. The reduction of crime by street lighting is an urban myth promulgated by the lighting industry to maximise profits. This myth is also perpetuated by the police, and by street lighting engineers in municipal lighting departments whose jobs and careers depend on their not understanding this fact. Lighting should not be a job-creation scheme for these people.

That lighting does not deter crime is backed up by the fact that during power failures criminality drops almost to zero. Criminals also need light to commit their nefarious deeds. This was demonstrated recently during a power failure in Auckland, New Zealand, and I have personal experience of it in Dhaka, Bangladesh that suffers as many as two power failures every night. It is further backed up by the Chicago Alley Project, (Morrow and Hutton, 2000) in which two demographically similar areas were compared. One had considerable amount of “improved” lighting installed, while in the other little was done. Crime increased significantly in the former, and marginally in the latter. More importantly, in neither area was there a reduction in the crime-rate. This suggests that street lighting encourages people to behave more at night as they would during the day. Consequently intensively illuminated areas will have a higher crime rate. Anecdotal evidence provided by members of the Campaign for Dark Skies shows that communities with less or no lighting have less crime, and it increases after lighting has been introduced.

Lighting does not reduce accidents; people do. It may be a truism, but cars have headlights. These can be dipped to reduce glare. If people drove according to the conditions then there would be fewer accidents. Alternative methods are available to improve road safety that precludes the application of lighting, and these should be considered first. Lighting should only be installed as a last resort.

Is energy being currently wasted through artificial outdoor lighting and if so how much?

Thousands of cities around the world are cooking the atmosphere every night with street, security, commercial and decorative lighting. These cities have become urban heat engines. Once it has served the dubious useful purpose of illuminating streets, it leaks into the environment, increases molecular motion and contributes to global warming. This is in addition to that produced by the fuels consumed to produce the energy in the first place. Consequently, light pollution becomes an inconvenient truth.

Are there significant energy savings to be made from implementing new technology or by controlling lights in a particular way (e.g. motion operated lights).

Lighting is expensive and the magnitude of night-time illumination is inevitably going to waste considerable amounts of energy. This energy has to be paid for. Some of this wastage can be reduced by the judicious application of lighting on a needs must basis. Lighting should only be installed, where needed, when needed, and in the correct amounts. Better lighting design would also help. All exterior lighting should only be full cut-off or better, ensuring that the light is directed downwards to where it is needed. With lighting only going where it is needed, considerable savings of energy and therefore money, will be made.

Motion operated security lighting will make considerable savings as most of the time it is switched off.

Recommendations:

• All street lighting should be full cut-off. The manufacture, sale, marketing, import and export of non-full cut-off lighting should be discontinued immediately.

• Security lighting should always be motion operated and aimed downwards so that light spillage does not trespass onto neighbouring properties. The manufacture, marketing, sale, import and export of security lighting that is not motion operated should be discontinued immediately.

• Zoning. Communities should be divided into urban, suburban and rural. In urban areas, light can be used quite freely, and all night as a twenty-four hour society prevails in those areas. However all the lighting should be full cut-off, and should not leak out into surrounding neighbourhoods.

• In suburban areas, all night lighting should only be applied on the major thoroughfares. Minor roads should be subjected to an 11.30 p.m. curfew and the lighting not switched on till the following night. Illuminated advertising should not be permitted in these (or rural) areas, and road signs should use reflective paint technology that has been available for at least fifty years.

• In rural areas, street lighting is not appropriate, and should not be installed unless it is absolutely necessary. This helps to maintain the distinction between town and country. This also includes motorways. Alternative technology is available to make these safer.

• No effort should be spared to prevent trespass onto properties, and householders should not be forced to endure street lighting outside their homes if they don’t want it. If a householder asks a lighting authority to remove obtrusive lighting they are duty bound to comply and not parrot out concerns about crime, safety or spacing. The householder should take priority, and the removal of one or two lights from outside a householder’s home is not going to make any difference.

• Lighting in high-rise office buildings should be switched off when the building is not in use. Though this is indoor lighting, such buildings leak a considerable amount of light into the environment that can be very damaging to wildlife.

• The lighting industry is out of control and needs to be regulated. The lighting standards imposed are set by the lighting industry itself, and it feathers its own nest. Consequently it needs a regulatory body composed of individuals who do not have a vested interest in the industry. This body should protect the environment, monitor lighting schemes to ensure that standards are adhered to, and to curtail any abuses. It should the power of veto, and serve as an adjudicator to whom people can complain when bad lighting affects them, and from whom their complaints can be redressed. The lighting industry manufactures bad lighting, and if it doesn’t self regulate then legislation will have to be imposed

• Exterior lighting should be used sparingly. The frivolous use of lighting should cease forthwith. This includes floodlighting of public buildings, regeneration follies, churches and monuments in suburban and rural areas, skybeams, lasers, illuminated advertising and road signs, and garden lighting.

• Those concerned with road safety should seek alternative methods to facilitate road safety without the naïve recourse to lighting. This can include cat’s eyes, reflective sign technology, and baffles on the central reservations of motorways.

• Sports facilities intended for night-time use are big contributors to light pollution. Such facilities should be roofed over, or sports enthusiasts encouraged to confine their activities to daylight hours.

• Money saved by applying better standards of lighting can be re-invested in health, education and welfare.

• Light pollution is therefore a green issue, and those organisations concerned with protection of the environment should co-operate in efforts to reduce its effects. It will never be eliminated, but with the introduction of new environmentally friendly lighting standards, its worst effects can be mitigated.

Conclusions

People are addicted to lighting and are habituated to its adverse effects that largely go unnoticed. In order to rectify this situation, a culture change is needed world-wide. This has already occurred with public attitudes in relation to dropping litter, dog-fouling, drink-diving, wearing seatbelts, and blood-sports. Now we need to see the same with regard to lighting, which is an insidious form of environmental pollution. The lighting industry, police and local government are largely responsible by encouraging the irresponsible application of lighting by linking it to crime and safety and encouraging crass lighting projects. They need to be reined in, with more stringent controls applied as to how lighting is utilised at night. Everyone is entitled to natural darkness at night. Deprivation of natural darkness is a human rights violation and an affront to the environment that is unable to function normally without it.
hunterknox
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Post by hunterknox »

Colin, what's the evidence on light pollution and prostate cancer? I must admit I have a bee in my bonnet about light pollution and cancer claims.
Colin Henshaw
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RCEP contribution

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Hunterknox,

One good reference is here; it is also relevant to prostate cancer

Kloog, I., Haim, A., and Portnov, B. A., Investigating the Links between Nighttime Light Pollution and Breast Cancer: a Geographic Information System (GIS)-assisted study. Accepted for publication: see abstract, Chronobiology International, (2005) 26 (6) 1240.

Other references include:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 135015.htm

http://generalmedicine.suite101.com/art ... man_health

http://starrynightlights.com/blog/2009/ ... pollution/

http://www.singularsci.com/LightPollution.htm

http://www.einpresswire.com/article/529 ... protect-it

As an aside, my contribution to the Royal Commission on Artificial Light in the Environment contained the following references:


1) The Bat Conservation Trust:
http://www.bats.org.uk/helpline/documen ... ersion.pdf

2) Lewis, J., The Stockport Skybeam:
http://www.librapix.com/lightpollution/ ... mber43.asp

3) Southampton Laser Gateway:
http://laserweb.org/node/327

4) The Luxor Skybeam:
http://crazymonk.org/topics/photography

5) Henshaw, C., JBAA letters, The environmental effects of light pollution, 104,1, p.3, May 104, 1994. Available in pdf format at http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full ... 3.000.html

6) Henshaw, C. & Cliff, G., Is Light Pollution Killing Our Birds? Challenge Magazine, Summer 2006.

7) Butterfly Conservation: http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/t ... ut_us.html

8) Meyer, John R., Colour Vision: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent425/ ... ision.html

9) Buglife: http://www.buglife.org.uk/discoverbugs/

10) FLAP Fatal Light Awareness Program, Toronto.

11) Light and Plants: http://www.calgary.rasc.ca/lp/plants.html

12) Blakemore, W., Light pollution and Breast Cancer. http://www.geocities.com/eric74382000/bc.htm
(This web-site is now dead).

13) Stedul, J. and Čolak Marja, Where have Zagreb’s Stars Gone? http://www.javno.com/en/croatia/clanak.php?id=101004

14) Journal of Pineal Research: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/ab ... alCode=jpi

15) Lighting and Crime http://www.lightpollution.org.uk/dwnLoa ... AC-GCc.doc

16) Hutton S. and Morrow, E., The Chicago Alley Lighting Project, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, 2000. http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/pdf ... roject.pdf

17) 7th European Symposium on the Protection of the Night Sky http://www.darksky2007.si/

You could also surf around reference 15 in more detail:

www.lightpollution.org.uk
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Post by SuperAvon »

The following account was submitted, but when the Royal Commission published its report it was not credited, probably due to the INCOMPETENCE of the person to whom it was sent.
Alternatively, your submission was considered to be just another of many like it and therefore did not necessitate a personal citation, as all of those rather generic points were already being addressed.

However, your desire for attention and recognition is duly noted, what with the long history of spamming the Internet claiming to have co-discovered SN1987A.

(Guess what, Colin? Other amateur astronomers spotted SN1987A early too, but they understand that priority is given to those who reported it first, which is why only Duhalde, Shelton and Jones quite rightly get all the credit. What a shame you refuse to accept that!)
Colin Henshaw
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RCEP Contribution

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Since you are too afraid to reveal yourself I should really treat your comments with nothing more than the contempt they deserve.

As for SN1987A I am not in the habit of spamming the internet with my involvement with it. I'm not responsible for any of those web-sites.
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Post by hunterknox »

Colin, the presence of light at night may also be codistributed with a whole host of other factors which are also associated with adverse health outcomes: atmospheric pollution, sedentary lifestyles, social deprivation etc.

How do you arrive at the conclusion that it is the light pollution which causes these excess cancers, rather than these other potentially codistributed factors?
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Re: RCEP Contribution

Post by SuperAvon »

Colin Henshaw wrote:As for SN1987A I am not in the habit of spamming the internet with my involvement with it. I'm not responsible for any of those web-sites.
Oh, so it's a different "Colin Henshaw" who continually adds the name "Colin Henshaw" as a co-discoverer to the Wikipedia SN1987A articles, including the non English language versions. Truly a fascinating coincidence, that! He's certainly keeping the Wikipedia editors busy reverting articles whenever it happens, which is often.

And of course all of the other various and sundry web-based articles written by or about "Colin Henshaw" which inform readers that SN1987A was co-discovered by "Colin Henshaw", are the work of that other Colin Henshaw, yes?

An old guy at an astronomical society I belong to once spotted a now very famous comet at around the same time as those it's named for. He had a good case for having actually been the first to see it. But he failed to report his discovery, and now it bears the names of those who did. His reaction? A rueful laugh about "the one that got away". At no time did he, or has he, ever claimed to have discovered or co-discovered that particular comet.

As he is a gentleman, I'm certain his integrity and sense of morals and ethics would have deterred him from ever attempting to steal some of the glory, had the Internet been available to him at the time. Can't say the same about you though, can we?
Colin Henshaw
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RCEP

Post by Colin Henshaw »

What a sad character you are. Have you nothing better to do than bicker with me over this issue?

If you are concerned about the number of websites relating to this issue, then quite frankly then you'e just adding to them. I know what happened in Zimbabwe in 1987, about which I have nothing to feel ashamed. I've re-examined my involvement in that affair and as far as I'm concerned it is documented fact. If I chose to go into Wikipedia that is my right, as I have the references to back it up.

Get real, sunshine, and let myself and others do what they really want to do, which is enjoying astronomy. This page is about fighting light pollution, so you're off topic. If you want to something really useful then devote your energy to fighting light pollution instead of picking a fight with me. That is what this page is all about.

Amen to the story.
Colin Henshaw
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RCEP contribution

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Hunterknox,

I take your point, and I would have said the same. I was actually quite amazed myself when I first heard about it. However, it seems that the effect of light centres around the melatonin production. The studies cited show that melatonin levels normally increase at night, but then get suppressed as a result of light exposure. Since melatonin is oncostatic (suppressing the growth of cancers), then exposure to light at night over a long period of time increases the person's liability to cancer.

The point is, darkness at night is normal, so interfering with it is bound to have negative effects, not only to animals and plants, but also to ourselves.
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Re: RCEP contribution

Post by hunterknox »

Colin Henshaw wrote: The point is, darkness at night is normal, so interfering with it is bound to have negative effects, not only to animals and plants, but also to ourselves.
Colin, it still doesn't follow that just because there's a hypothesis behind the result then the result must be proven. Epicycles were a workable explanation in their day, but it didn't make them the correct interpretation of planetary movements.

Interestingly, the CfDS' reference on melatonin/light pollution/breast cancer comes from the Journal of Medical Hypotheses, a non-peer-reviewed repository for unproven medical claims. More on that here:
http://www.badscience.net/2009/09/medic ... #more-1342.

Finally, it's pretty trite to say that interfering with what's "normal" must be a bad thing. Whooping cough, TB, polio, syphalis, cholera etc. all used to be both normal and natural in this country, but I for one am glad that scientists have been trying to rid us of them.

In summary, keep fighting light pollution, but don't overstate the science. Remember the fundamental point is that we want to get rid of light pollution so that we can see the sky. There are more effective campaigns to be waged against cancer and scaremongering is rarely useful.

Tom
Colin Henshaw
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RCEP contribution

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Tom, many thanks for your kind input. Interesting web-site. However, I think there are plenty of other references around that support the connection. Here is one, but whether this has fed of the web-site you quoted, I don't know. http://generalmedicine.suite101.com/art ... man_health
However, I agree about not overstating the science if it proves counterproductive. Light pollution is a serious environmental problem that is often understated and we all need to pull together if we are to reduce it to manageable proportions. Once again, many thanks.
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Re: RCEP

Post by SuperAvon »

Colin Henshaw wrote:If I chose to go into Wikipedia that is my right, as I have the references to back it up.
And yet you have never once supplied any references, even when asked for them by those seeking evidence to support your oft-repeated claims of co-discovering SN1987A. In fact you fail to cite such references in the articles you have written.

Did you provide those references to Brian Marsden? If not, why not? There's no mention of you as co-discoverer on the IAUC notification page for the event:

http://www.cbat.eps.harvard.edu/iauc/04300/04316.html

I see Shelton's name, and I see Duhalde's name, and I see Jones' name, but, nope, no mention of you in there anywhere. How very strange!

After all, here's you been telling every man and his dog for ages that you are officially a "co-discoverer" of SN1987A, and yet the IAU apparently knows nothing about it, and neither does anybody else.

One would think that your references to the fact would have been of significant interest to Mr. Marsden. Because, you know, if they were valid references, then he would have to officially add your name to the list of discoverers of SN1987A.

However, the fact that you won't and can't provide valid references makes it plain that your claims are based upon nothing but empty wishful thinking on your part.

The discoverers of supernova SN1987A are/were Ian Shelton (Canada), Oscar Duhalde (Chile) and Albert Jones (New Zealand). They saw it first, they reported it first, they and they alone are entitled to the discovery credit. Nobody else has a valid claim.

Ian Shelton (CAN): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Shelton

Albert Jones (NZ): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_F._A._L._Jones

No Wikipedia page for Oscar Duhalde, though. Apparently it takes more than being a mere co-discoverer of SN1987A to make one worthy of a Wikipedia article. :wink:

Now, Colin, about those references you mentioned...
Last edited by SuperAvon on Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
Colin Henshaw
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RCEP contribution

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Persistant little pest aren't you. As for the references, you can take it from me they are there. But I don't see why I should do your dirty work for you.

Don't you have owt better to do than to annoy people? Aren't you just just pathetic.

As I said before, Amen to the story.
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Post by joe »

As this is the Light Pollution section and the thread is not about supernova discoveries I have to warn everyone that further posts on that subject will be removed or else I will lock the thread.
200mm Newtonian, OMC140, ETX90, 15x70 Binoculars.
Colin Henshaw
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RCEP contribution

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Tom,

Kloog et al have published another paper on cancer an the effects of Light at Night here:

Kloog, I., Haim, A., Stevens, R. G., Barchana, M. and Portnov, B. A. (2008) Light at night co-distributes with incident breast but not lung cancer in the female population of Israel. Chronobiology International, 25(1), 65-81. ISSN 0742-0528 print/ 1525-6073 online, doi: 10.1080/07420520801921572
Lamptech

It can be found here:

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/p ... _LIGHT.pdf

Another interesting site is SOLIS, at:

http://solis.org.au/

So I'm confident that the link between Light at Night and cancer is fairly safe.

Best wishes,

Colin.
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