Since my last post, my group members and I have been working apart and focusing in on certain aspects of our projects. Personally I’ve been focusing on the GLOBE at Night project dealing with light pollution. The concept that captured my mind the most was looking at how light pollution affects a few places around the planet. I found some interesting things like: how Hong Kong is the worst place on the planet to go star gazing; in some places the pollution is so bad that it’s causing car accidents and long-term health issues; it could even go as far as harassing the mating season for some creatures; and in a little known desert peninsula you can see the Milky Way, itself, paint the sky in all new living color.
Let’s start in Ho Chi Minh,Vietnam, a place where light pollution has been running the streets, poking night dwellers in the eyes, and causing accidents. In this city lights are all over, from unregulated billboard lighting to the dramatic street lighting that can be unneeded in some or most areas. But, these lights haven’t been totally welcomed, while reading an article from Viet Nam News this quote struck me ”Many people in HCM City complain that they are nervous and screw up their eyes when travelling on Truong Chinh Street from Tham Luong Bridge to the An Suong intersection.” I started to think about how a lot of people think light pollution is harmless, including myself before this project, light pollution has serious long term effects. The electromagnetic waves from the lights can cause insomnia and even psychological disorders if people are exposed too much, an indicator of this exposure is the amount of light pollution in a single area. According to WHO unnecessary light is a type of pollution and causes diverse symptoms and diseases in humans. The last thing light pollution is affecting HCM is the glare light pollution(mentioned in my last post), motorcycle riders have been victimized by this form of light pollution when they leave areas of normal lighting and enter areas of extreme lighting. When drivers make this transition they usually are left with an “invisible blind spot”. Recollections of the victims sound like, “In recalling their accidents, drivers remember suddenly entering an area of extreme light while driving down the road and being blinded by the bright light, causing them to fall to the ground.” (Tuoitr News) Huynh Kim Tuoc, the director of HCM City Energy Saving Center, says that all this light is unnatural and harmful to the human eye and also believes that the light intended for the heavy traffic is exaggerate and completely not needed.
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, the city that is currently believed to be the worst ranking city for light pollution.Dr. Jason Pun Chun-shing, of the Department of Physics at the University of Hong Kong. He said he could find nowhere else on earth as badly affected.(South China Morning Post: Hong Kong) The night sky pollution levels in Tsim Sha Tsui are 1,200 times brighter than the night sky, more specifically the Space Museum. That’s right, the space museum in Hong Kong is one of the biggest contributors to light pollution worldwide. They are the only major city that doesn’t have regulations on external lighting. Even in the most rural areas of the city the pollution levels are 20 times above standards. Hong Kong Entomological Society chairman Yiu Vor said he fears that the brightness will affect firefly breeding, especially the bent-winged firefly that relies on light signals as mating call. “Pun said Hong Kong needed tougher measures to curb light pollution, instead of relying on voluntary technical guidelines. Sydney requires all private illuminated signs to be scrutinised by the city council. London also makes such nuisances a statutory offence carrying a fine or even imprisonment.” Hong Kong has a long way to go before they solve their problem, and a lot of changes to make.
But, all hope is not lost there is at least one beautiful place that has been untarnished. InKazakhstan’s Mangyshlak Peninsula light pollution isn’t a problem and the milky way becomes visible overtime as night captures the sky. Although light pollution can be pretty, the night sky there is truly beautiful. Hong Kong and Vietnam aren’t the only places that are big contributors. Moving closer to home, the east coast of America is one of the most potent contributors and I want to leave you readers with a thought. Which one do you want? Plan A or Plan B?