[Darksky]Light Pollution and Extinction of Wildlife (fwd)

Jan Hollan
Wed, 5 Dec 2001 21:30:59 +0100 (CET)

from [DSLF]  Digest Number 441 :

Message: 5
   Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2001 22:38:01 EDT
   From: MysidsAaol...
Subject: Role of Light Pollution in the Worldwide Extinction of Wildlife Species

A world renown scientist is raising red flags for the rapid extinction of 
wildlife species worldwide.   Read the abstract, website and reflective 
thoughts below and take a moment for yourself and consider the role that 
light pollution is playing in this sad and rapid wildlife extinction process. 


CAPE TOWN, South Africa, August 23, 2001 (ENS) - The world is losing
between 50,000 and 100,000 plant, insect and animal species a year, Kenyan
conservationist Richard Leakey said Wednesday at a lecture. This is much
higher than a similar estimate Leakey gave in 1997. "Human activities are
causing between 10,000 and 40,000 species to become extinct each year,"
Leakey said then.


For full text and graphics visit:


Sharp questions abound on the role that Light Pollution plays in the 
reduction of fish and wildlife species worldwide.  Birds and seaturtles are 
indisputable indicators of  this.   Sad to say that many environmental and 
wildlife agencies are dead asleep at the wheel on the issue.   The few people 
within these organizations that are keenly aware of the problem are 
considered pioneers that are working alone to break open the impasse.   Time 
is not a luxury.

Some of these agencies and groups mostly concur that light pollution problems 
are best addressed by local ordinances.   This may help but it is certainly 
not the right approach.   These agencies must approach the issue from a 
national, regional and local  environmental (or wildlife) management approach 
that goes beyond local political or municipal boundaries.    This type of 
approach would be comparable to air or water quality standards that are in 
effect nationwide.   There has been some momentum on the Atlantic coast to 
manage outdoor lighting as a means of protecting seaturtles.  The benefits, 
however, go far beyond seaturtles because other coastal species habitats 
become enhanced as LP effects are reversed toward natural nocturnal (night) 
conditions.   This trend is the direct result of the environmental agencies 
(US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sea Turtle Conservation groups) who conduct 
outreach to local and state governments to institute lighting ordinances. 
They add strength to their case, not only with an educational approach, but 
using the Endangered Species Act that has some legal teeth to mandate 
compliance with the law as a means to protect Endangered Species.   Using the 
Endangered Species Act as the precedent, there are opportunities for the Fish 
and Wildlife Sikes Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act,  Coastal Zone Management Act and other environmental regulatory acts 
that can also identifiy light pollution as an environmental issue of 
significant concern.

One fact about migratory endangered species is that many of them are on the 
move throughout the inland and coastal environments.  With uniform outdoor 
lighting practices (FCO, ordinances, etc.) and reduction of light pollution, 
the movement of these species through migratory corridors can be aided rather 
than hindered.  It is hoped that someday soon, the environmental agencies 
will increase the identification of light pollution as an environmental issue 
that would elevate opportunities for wildlife management, research and 
conservation funding, and ecosystem management programs.   Public pressure on 
these agencies to mandate the identification of light pollution as an 
environmental issue would play a strong role in forcing these agencies to act.

When one looks at nationwide and regional programs such as the Chesapeake 
Bay, Florida Everglades, and Great Lakes Programs, light pollution is totally 
omitted as an environmental issue.  Chemical pollutants that have even a 
minor or minimal impact are identifed for reduction with public program 
funding and resources.   Using the Chesapeake Bay Program as an example, long 
stretches of urban and rural waterways are being significantly impacted by 
outdoor lighting, courtesy of the shortcomings of the Chesapeake Bay 
Preservation Act and the Corps of Engineers wetlands permitting system. 
 QUESTION:  How else can waterfont owners build a pier in sensitive salt 
marsh habitats and cause a significant impact to surrounding shoreline and 
marsh wildlife habitats with bright lights, even if there are rare and 
protected species nearby?  ANSWER:  They are granted permits to construct a 
pier with absolutely no restrictions on pier or waterfront lighting.   

t is certainly within easy reach for the Environmental Protection Agency 
(EPA), US Fish and Wildlife Agency (USFWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Agency (NOAA), Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), their state counterparts, 
Audubon Society, National Resoures Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, 
Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, and many other 
influential programs to sit down, form a joint task force and aggressively 
pursue light pollution problems for the purposes of environmental mangement 
and wildlife conservation.  Until the agencies and public that are involved, 
it is reasonable to expect that many more fish and wildlife species will 
become adversely affected to the point where their existence is partially or 
completely jeopardized by light pollution.  Time is not a luxury.

J. Noles