The recent work done by Studio Roosegaarde at the Aflsuitdijk brought back into the spotlight the issue of light pollution. This is something that in my opinion, here in the Netherlands, does requires some attention.
If not in the loop, you might be wondering why is there such an issue as light pollution. Is just light, right?! Well, not exactly.
Light plays a major role in the cogs of biology. This is valid for people, animals as well as plants. Our biological rhythms use the natural light and its course to run. We wake up with the sun and we slow down as the nights starts to unfold. The light provided by our technology has the ability to disrupt this rhythm and keep us awake till late at night.
Ironically, with all the freedom given by technology and artificial light we have lost the freedom given by the natural course of light. Prior to artificial light sources people with go to sleep as the sun went down, but wake up later during the night. They’d be active for a few hours only to later resume their sleep and wake up as the sun started to rise. The industrialization has completely changed that by bringing into the common mentality that there was time for work and time for sleep and never those two shall intertwine. Highly recommend Ariana Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution. Very insightful and full of historical and scientific data.
Now, let’s be serious, I love my computer and all the other light emitting devices I have and don’t plan on giving them up any time soon. However, I do think that the way we structure our daily functioning might benefit from some rethinking. What do you think about that?
Getting back to the issue at hand, the light pollution map of the Netherlands, spills the beans immediately. The high concentration of population is an obvious first “culprit”. The country is small. People travel often. The road network is well laid out and with small exceptions strongly illuminated. You know, safety and stuff…
Many of the blocks of flats with outdoor walkways have a dense network of lights meant to provide security to all incoming and outgoing parties. I am not previewed to the technical specification, however I am more than sure that the light grids are designed based on safety regulations. This is a perfectly logical and a highly appreciated move in dense cities where people have different schedules and love their freedom of movement. And while I do love the feeling of safety, the issues of proper sleeping and the effects over the local flora and fauna do make me wonder: is there a better way to do this? How do we maintain the safety while decreasing the amount of light pollution that we are presently creating?