Fewer and fewer people across the world now have the privilege of having a clear view of the Milky Way. According to a new study, one-third of people around the world, 80 percent of people in the U.S. and 60 percent of people in Europe live in places where the haze of artificial light is completely blocking their view to the Milky Way.
Light pollution may not seem as harmful as air pollution but it can have a long-lasting negative impacts on cultures and “unforeseeable consequences in the future generations,” study authors wrote in a research paper published June 10 in Science Advances.
Scientists also published an updated version of the World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness which pinpoints the levels of “artificial sky glow” across the planet.
The study also found that 83 percent of all world’s populations, 99 percent of Americans and Europeans are affected by light pollution. According to the atlas, the country with the highest levels o light pollution is Singapore.
People in Singapore live under a constant artificial glow that doesn’t even allow their eyes to adapt to night vision. The next country in line, with 98 percent light pollution, is Kuwait, followed by Qatar (97 percent), the United Emirates (93 percent) and Saudi Arabia (83 percent).
The countries with the clearest skies are Madagascar, Chad and Central African Republic. Researchers found that more than 75 percent of people living there have access to an unobstructed view of the night sky.
Researchers said that light pollution can lead to ecological problems, needless spending, public health issues, and huge cultural losses.
Being exposed to light 24/7 can have a negative impact on humans’ health too. It can disturb our internal clocks which can alter the production of hormones that can later result in various metabolic and cardiovascular problems. It can also lead to insomnia as it breaks the natural sleep cycle.
The study revealed that people living in cities were the most exposed group to the artificial haze of light. Yet, the countryside is no longer safe. So, scientists are concerned that the phenomenon could have a major impact on wildlife.
For instance, baby sea turtles are often so disoriented by the light coming from streetlights that they can no longer find their way to the ocean thus dying dehydrated or being killed by their natural enemies.
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