Lights out

Why turning down outside lighting is better for safety, the environment

It’s a commonly held belief that street lighting, which has illuminated urban centres and motorways since the Second World War, increases road safety and deters criminals. But according to Britain’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, street lighting may be doing more harm than good. Too often, the commission found, authorities blast light at the “wrong place at the wrong time,” creating wasted light or “sky glow,” as well as dark shadows that provide cover to criminals. And all that fake light can impact the biology of many plants and animals. The commission suggests removing artificial lights from motorways (except at junctions), and dimming the lights in city centres.


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