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From global to local - the world map of light pollution

From global to local - the world map of light pollution

Despite the cold the longer nights lead many people’s eyes to be drawn upwards as those clear skies dominate our daily lives more. And what you see when you look up, very much depends on levels of light pollution in your area.

We’ve definitely made some progress this year in England with Bodmin Moor awarded dark sky landscape status back in July, and we were thrilled to hear that CPRE’s light pollution maps had helped with that.

Now researchers have just published a map of light pollution around the globe in the Science Advances journal. Sadly, the new data shows that between 2012-16, Earth’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by 2.2% per year although large differences in national growth rates were observed, with lighting remaining stable or decreasing in only a few countries.

CPRE has long campaigned to reduce light pollution: darkness at night is one of the key characteristics of rural areas and it represents a major difference between what is urban and what is rural. As light doesn’t respect boundaries; it can spread for miles from the source and blurs the distinction between town and country. New technologies, such as centrally controlled dimming schemes, can help ensure that the right lighting is used only where and when it is needed, in turn reducing the amount of light spilling up into the night sky.   

I’m pleased that this issue is being taken seriously globally though and the new mapping helps focus people on it as a worldwide problem. It chimes with the research published by CPRE last year, with our Night Blight maps of Britain’s night skies revealing that only 22% of England had pristine skies, free from any light pollution, compared with almost 57% of Wales and 77% of Scotland. We also found that the amount of the most severe light pollution is five times higher in England than in Scotland and six times higher than in Wales.

 Action can be taken to curb the spread of artificial light. Many councils are reviewing their street lighting and it is important that they engage with the local community to decide what works best in that area. We also encourage councils to have strong planning policies which ensure that existing dark skies are protected and new developments don’t cause light pollution. You can also work to tackle light pollution through neighbourhood plans and also by making sure that lighting on their property is not adding to the problem.

So do look out for opportunities to help reduce light pollution where you are – and to find the best places to view our dark skies, take a look at our maps and find out where the best viewing is near you.

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23 November 2017

Darkness at night is one of the key characteristics of rural areas and it represents a major difference between what is urban and what is rural




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