Karijini in dark park bid
Karijini National Park is set to become WA’s first Dark Sky Park if Perth-based Dr Kellie Pendoley from Pendoley Environmental, a leading member of the International Dark Sky Association, gets her way.
The IDA works to protect the night skies for present and future generations by promoting environmentally responsible outdoor lighting and educating people about night sky conservation.
One of the IDA’s initiatives is to create Dark Sky Parks, communities and reserves around the globe by keeping areas free from artificial light. The pure darkness of a place like Karijini is good for your soul, but it seems it is also good for your health, Dr Pendoley says.
“Exposure to too much artificial light is being associated with a number of health problems including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and sleeplessness,” she said.
LED lights like those that power the screen of your mobile phone or tablet, produce light at the blue end of the spectrum which fools the body into thinking it’s still daylight, so it suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that puts you to sleep.
Instead the body keeps producing cortisol, the hormone that keeps you going during the day, and this increases blood pressure, which leads to health problems.
Recently smartphones and other devices have been given the option to tone down the blue light, giving a warmer, redder light, but blue lights are also becoming widespread in city streets as authorities change over to them to save money.
Fabio Falchi, from the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute in Thiene, Italy, recently released the results of a study using data from Suomi NPP, a high-resolution satellite which scanned the Earth for light emanating from cities.
Mr Falchi says 83 per cent of the world’s population experienced some form of light pollution, and in Europe and North America, the number affected could be as high as 99 per cent, with cities like Singapore and Hong Kong having no escape for anybody.
“Globally, artificial lighting is increasing by 6 per cent annually and it now accounts for 20 per cent of global electricity consumption,” Dr Pendoley said.
“In the US, 30 per cent of outdoor lighting is wasted — that is it shines uselessly into the sky — and this light costs $US3.3 billion and releases 21 million tonnes of CO2 each year.”