Bob Mizon, Dr Bob Fosbury, Sophie Spencer, & Charles Draper
Astronomers are aware of the difficulties light pollution can pose for the pursuit of their activities. However, there is increasing evidence of much broader impacts on our health and environment that bring much wider interests to bear. Artificial light offers many benefits. But it needs to be the right light at the right times and in the right places. Getting this wrong is bad for human health (mental and physical), and harmful to many forms of wildlife. More lighting doesn’t always mean more security, and our communities lose contact with the pleasures of the night sky. Reducing energy wasted on unnecessary artificial lighting can also contribute to climate change targets, and save costs.
These issues need to be addressed at several levels. National governments have a key role. The recently published report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dark Skies proposed 10 Policies for the UK Government. One of them was to set standards for the brightness and colour temperature of lighting. Another was to create a dark sky towns and cities initiative. Here the requirement is for a tailored approach that meets the needs of different parts of the community. This requires engagement with local government, businesses, public sector institutions, residents’ groups and special interests. Astronomers both professional and amateur can play a key role in engaging these wider interests for the benefit of all.
The Panel (Bob Mizon, UK Coordinator of the Commission for Dark Skies; Dr Bob Fosbury Astronomer Emeritus, ESO, and Hon. Prof., UCL Inst. Ophthalmology; Sophie Spencer, Director, CPRE Avon and Bristol; and Charles Draper, Chairman of Bath and Surrounds Starlit Skies Alliance and the Herschel Society) will set the national scene in the context of the APPG Report, and then describe how this is being attempted in the Bath area, and more broadly in the West of England, as an example for discussion and the sharing of good practice.
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Light Pollution is Bad for All