Preserving the night sky in Austin

Most evenings in Central Texas, the sky transforms into the legendary violet crown before falling into darkness. Although humans wait for the beauty of the sunset, it is the darkness that animals need, according to Cliff Kaplan of the Hill Country Alliance.

“All of the creatures of Central Texas rely on dark nights. That’s what they evolved for,” he told the Environmental Commission at its Feb. 5 meeting. Golden-cheeked warblers navigate by starlight and fireflies communicate in darkness. Darker skies are also a money-saving tool for municipalities.

“Thirty-three percent of all outdoor lighting is wasted by going where it’s not intended to go,” Kaplan said. That waste translates to 15 million tons of wasted carbon dioxide and $3 billion spent on unintended lighting nationwide. Commissioners agreed that preserving the natural darkness was an important effort.

Commissioner Katie Coyne said it was “vital” to think about the growth happening to the east and how municipalities and developers can work to contain unused light.

Read more from Jessi Devenyns with The Austin Monitor here.