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Episode 1: Hormone of Darkness. Light Pollution News.
Newsome Vetoes Bill Aimed at Preventing Light Pollution. Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times.
“Newsom vetoes bill aimed at preventing light pollution.”
California Gov Gavin Newsome vetoed a light pollution bill, introduced by Assemblyman Alex Lee of San Jose. The bill, AB 2382 would require all outdoor lighting installations on public buildings to have antilight pollution shields, motion sensors, or automatic dimming to reduce their effect on the environment.
Lee remarked that the veto will negatively impact night skies and migratory species while failing to reduce wasteful and unnecessary electricity consumption.” Lee also remarked that the veto was “extremely disappointing.”
Newsome claims that the veto was necessary due to quote “millions of dollars not accounted for in the budget” Newsome also noted that California’s Green Building Standards Code already requires some light pollution prevention measures.
Next up, it’s October, you know what that means? It’s bird migration season! This editorial comes from WIBC in Indianapolis. It appears that the Amos Butler Audubon Society is hard at work trying to convince city and business leaders to turn down the lights. “We’ve got the Indianapolis Zoo, the Indianapolis Public Library, and the Salesforce building,” Austin Broadwater, who’s leading the charge, said.
It’s a bit remarkable, it used to be that the only way to measure a sky’s darkness was by way of a sky quality meter, which was a small handheld device that captured light. Now, per Nature, researchers Dominika Karpinska and Mieczyslaw Kunz from Torun, Poland may be testing a new automated network of light pollution measuring devices designed to be placed at select points through the community and report data back to the cloud via wifi signals.
The devices, roughly 3 cubic feet in size, contain a dual diode sensor, with one diode capturing visible light wavelengths and the other capturing infrared wavelengths. Initial tests used two devices. The researchers compared results to previous handheld SQM readings and found them in line with expectations. Next, the researchers rolled out 35 devices and tested them en masse at the meteorological terrace of Nicolas Copernicus University.
The dark side of LEDs: Suppression of melatonin by blue light. Thomas Crow, Phys.org
Well, this one comes from Thomas Crow of Phys.org from Particle in the land down under. A new study by Alicia Dimorvski of La Trobe University looks at the impacts of white light (called blue in the article) on melatonin suppression. Dimorvski conducted a 10 week study to ascertain the impacts, if any, white light had on wallabies.
The construct was simple: Dimorvski exposed one group to 448nm white LEDs, one group exposed to 605nm of warm LEDs, and one group received no lighting whatsoever. Dimorvski found that the type of light heavily impacted wallaby melatonin levels.
Melatonin apparently acts as an antioxidant, “capturing free radicals” which arise out of inflammation. “Melatonin,” according to Dimorvksi,” is known as the hormone of darkness.” Wallabies exposed to white light experienced significant melatonin suppression when compared to the amber and dark wallabies.
Beyond melatonin, the changing level of light throughout the four seasons affects the signaling for reproduction. “Animals that breed at certain times of the year, such as wallabies, rely on their biological clock to ensure births occur when there is enough food to raise their young,” Dimorvski says.
Evidently, per a FOX 5 DC report, LEDs are malfunctioning across Maryland! Since installation a year ago, the lights gradually change to bewildering purple! Baltimore Gas and Electric said that they changed over 5,000 light fixtures!!
From WBUR, Boston, workers are removing upwards of 12 street lights after one fell and struck a woman in the head!! The light fell onto the pedestrian as she crossed the Evelyn Moakley Bridge! Yikes!
Wrapping up our technology section, how do you feel about digital license plates? Per Jonathan Gitlin at Ars Technica, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed bill AB 984 into law. AB 984 allows for e-ink displays to be a legal alternative to the traditional metal license plate.
“AB 984 strikes a necessary balance between innovation and privacy while digitalizing the only thing on our cars today that remains antiquated, license plates,” said California Assemblymember Lori Wilson.
The manufacturer, Reviver, released the RPlate product using a monochromatic e-ink screen protected by a cover that is “six times stronger than glass.” At the low rate of $19.95 per month for 2 years or $215.40 a year for four years, you can now have your own digital license plate.
This one comes from Chris Connell at the Foothills Forum. ‘Rappahannock, Virginia’s dark sky protectors worry as development marches west.’ 760 $.5M homes are to be built (crammed in it looks like) which has environmentalists in a scurry. The homes will include a “village” commercial center, which has starry sky advocates worried.
In 2015, advocates attempted to put a responsible night residential lighting ordinance on the books but met resistance from fellow community members. “The government already has enough control over our rights and our property,” said one homeowner.
When residents were polled on their top 12 concerns, dark skies sat midway at 6, better internet and cellphone service. However, starry sky advocates were able to secure an International Dark Sky Park designation in 2019 from the IDA, an effort that took a year to obtain.
Advocates worked tirelessly in the community to offer free responsible lighting fixtures to stores, churches, and more. But now, pending sizable development, the “world apart from Washington” as one local put it, may have challenging times ahead.
Since the 1990s, rapid growth eroded the horizons. Rappahannock County at this time is relatively rural with only 28 people per square mile versus the towering 3,000 per square mile in eastward Fairfax County. At the moment, developers appear receptive, but as such often is the case, time will tell.
Some community members remain concerned about safety in this rural area. Apparently, last year, there was a dispute between a public astronomy observing event and a neighbor to the attending park’s driveway, whereby the neighbor installed lighting out of concern for people trespassing. This resulted in the agreement to build a wooden fence to cut down on light trespass.
“A lot of people are afraid to lose their lights. They think of it as a safety issue, keeping burglars away, “ Rick Kohler, a prominent starry sky advocate said. “ But lights aren’t necessarily keeping burglars away; it just shows them where to go.”
Connell notes that one business praised the newly installed responsible lighting from Starry Sky advocates, noting the soft white temperature and lack of glare. Regarding the light replacement scheme specifically, member Claire Cassel sums it up as “its all voluntary, you can’t always convince people it’s something they should or want to do. There’s that fear sometimes, ‘Oh…it’s the dark!!”
Finally, some good news! Always good to see the good guys win!
This comes to us from Delana Lefevers of OnlyInYourState, “Nebraska is Now Home to the Newest Dark Sky Reserve in the World!”
You don’t need any special equipment to enjoy the stars at Merrit Reservoir, just show up before sunset to stake out a spot and be sure to leave your headlights, phones, and other artificial lights off. Give your eyes time to adjust to the deep darkness before the stars appear above you.