4 years ago

Why artificial light at night should be a focus for global change research in the 21st century

Why artificial light at night should be a focus for global change research in the 21st century
Thomas W. Davies, Tim Smyth
The environmental impacts of artificial light at night have been a rapidly growing field of global change science in recent years. Yet, light pollution has not achieved parity with other global change phenomena in the level of concern and interest it receives from the scientific community, government and nongovernmental organizations. This is despite the globally widespread, expanding and changing nature of night-time lighting and the immediacy, severity and phylogenetic breath of its impacts. In this opinion piece, we evidence 10 reasons why artificial light at night should be a focus for global change research in the 21st century. Our reasons extend beyond those concerned principally with the environment, to also include impacts on human health, culture and biodiversity conservation more generally. We conclude that the growing use of night-time lighting will continue to raise numerous ecological, human health and cultural issues, but that opportunities exist to mitigate its impacts by combining novel technologies with sound scientific evidence. The potential gains from appropriate management extend far beyond those for the environment, indeed it may play a key role in transitioning towards a more sustainable society. The trend in research outputs associated with light pollution and climate change since the year 2000. Bar heights represent the cumulative number of articles expressed as a percentage of the total number of articles published by the end of 2016; numbers are the cumulative number of articles published by the end of each year. Note that the total number of articles does not reflect the total number published in the research area, only the number returned from the search. The data were collected from a Web of Science search for phrases in article titles. The search phrases used for light pollution research outputs were “Light pollution” OR “Artificial Light at Night” OR “Nighttime lighting” OR “Night-time lighting” OR “Night time lighting” OR “Street Lighting” OR “LED lighting” OR “Light-emitting diode lighting.” The search phrase for climate change was “Climate change” and results were not refined by research area. The search for articles on light pollution was refined by research areas: (Plant Sciences or Ornithology or Psychology Multidisciplinary or Environmental Sciences or Evolutionary Biology or Physics Applied or Entomology or Engineering Environmental or Ecology or Urban Studies or Fisheries or Biodiversity Conservation or Biology or Physics Multidisciplinary or Zoology or Oceanography or Geography Physical or Geography or Remote Sensing or Physiology or Marine Freshwater Biology or Public Environmental Occupational Health).

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13927

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