Our nights are brighter, and brighter

Of course, our night skies are more washed with artificial light than those of our ancestors, but apparently – despite the efforts of groups such as the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) – Earth’s night skies are still getting brighter. A landmark study released November 22, 2017 found both light pollution – and energy consumption by lighting – steadily increasing. The study is based on five years of satellite images. The data show gains of two percent per year in the amount of the Earth’s surface that is artificially lit at night and in the quantity of light emitted. The study noted a correlation between some nations’ economic development and their brighter night skies. And it noted zero decline in rates of light pollution in already-developed nations, where a switch to energy-saving LEDs was thought by some to be helping to save the night.

Christopher Kyba of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany led the international team of scientists that conducted the study. It was published November 22 in the peer-reviewed journal Science AdvancesRead more from EarthSky