On the occasion of the International Mountain Day on 11 December 2019, a press release on light pollution was issued by Ingrid Hayek.
Let’s shoot for the moon!?
Turning the night into day is something we have got used to.
For millions of years, all life has relied on the rhythm of day and night. For thousands of years, mankind went to bed and got up “with the sun”. Our hormone balance has developed according to the sun, as have old habits and traditions. Within less than 150 years, this evolution has been turned upside down. The problems we face now are affecting human individuals as well as our biologic entourage.
What’s wrong with brightly illuminated (= “safe”) streets, watching tv until midnight, prolonging working hours, meeting friends after work? After all, that’s what we call quality of life. And true, we can’t turn back the wheel of time. Maybe we could try to turn the wheel with less energy.
But why are we illuminating the environment without even living there ourselves? Why do we throw light on mountain huts, cable cars, skiing areas and other fun parks in nature? We might question the acceptability of simulating daylight conditions for nightly outdoor activities. We could consider offering outdoor experiences achieving the benefits of darkness, enjoying the starry sky, watching nocturnal animals or simply relaxing in self-reflection.
We might, we could … yet we don’t. We even go further and bombard nature with our dubious enlightening achievement while we are in bed, desperately trying to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone which our body only produces in the dark. Unfortunately, the animals out there in the perpetual light, are not equipped with curtains and sleeping masks. Plants and animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark to reproduce, nourish, sleep and escape from enemies. Migratory birds navigate by moonlight and starlight and are confused by artificial light. Light at night is even causing a decline in insect populations.
But – good news! – there is a simple first step towards a solution: Without changing our lifestyle, we could easily – from one day to the other – switch off any lights in areas uninhabited by humans. Let’s do it!
Let’s give darkness a chance and we’ll be over the moon!
The EUMA (European Mountaineering Associations) supports it.
© Ingrid Hayek