Turning off streetlights at night could help urban wildlife

With cities gradually making streets brighter at night to protect citizens, there are other consequences of well-lit urban areas that some people have overlooked.

Wildlife, especially nocturnal creatures, suffer from 24-hour lighting.

Johan Eklof, author of The Manifesto of Darknessjoined Moncrieff to discuss how cities and towns harm wildlife.

“All the animals in the pantanal evolved in a world where we have night and day and which has existed for three billion years,” he explained.

“All of a sudden we start turning on lights and we don’t have night anymore and that of course affects everything from bacteria to humans.”

Security

Mr. Eklof acknowledges that there is a security issue with his desire to rid the night of all light.

“Humans tend to be very visual, we like to see things.”

“There are so many parking lots, church yards, public places where the lights are on all night and even when no one is around.”

Mr Eklof said it didn’t have to be all or nothing.

“We could start by turning on the lights when we get there,” he said.

Turning off lights at night could also have benefits for local councils and governments.

Energy costs could be reduced by up to 80% for areas that make the switch.

nocturnal animals

Bats, which have been around for 50 million years, are nocturnal creatures that think light is dangerous.

“They don’t want to come out when it’s light outside because then they can be picked up by predatory birds,” he explained.

“They are as afraid of the light as we are of the dark.”

There are also other human impacts.

“[Humans] you have this sleep hormone, melatonin, and you need darkness to produce melatonin,” Eklof explained.

“If you don’t, it will affect other hormones in the body and you will sleep worse.”

The main image shows an urban fox at night. Photo by: Jason Hornblow/Alamy

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