On this, the 4th edition of the Conspiracy Chronicles, we’re turning our gaze skyward and appreciating the beauty of a dark night!

This August we’re enjoying the last bits of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and taking a moment to appreciate a beautiful night sky, and what we can do to keep it for generations!

Are you new to the Conspiracy Chronicles club? First, WELCOME! We love it when new people join the adventure of recognizing the good in the world. The Conspiracy Chronicles is a monthly newsletter that takes a look at a problem our world faces, gives us a thought leader to rally around, and leaves us all with some easy ways we can contribute to the #ConspiracyofGoodness!

Image: Man standing underneath a rock arch looking up at the stars of the night sky

The Problem

What’s your favorite stargazing memory?

For thousands of years, we humans have depended on the night sky for navigation, storytelling, and as a catalyst for the big questions about who we are and why we’re here. Now, this wonder of our world is being threatened by light pollution, and it’s doing more than just making it difficult to see the stars. Light pollution can have a huge toll on our health!

What is light pollution?

Well, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)—we’ll introduce you to them in a second—define it as “the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light.” Excessive light has an enormous impact on humans, wildlife, and even the climate.

Light pollution shows up in a few ways, some common ones are:

Glare: excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort
Skyglow: brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas
Light Trespass: Light falling where it is not intended or needed
Clutter: bright, confusing, and excessive groupings of light sources

(International Dark Sky Association)

Any of these sound familiar? It probably does, because 80% of the world’s population lives under light-polluted skies! And if you live in the United States or Europe, 99% of the population lives with light pollution.

What’s the impact of this light pollution?

For animals, artificial light at night can cause disruptions to migration patterns, spawning behaviors, and feeding habits.

In humans, the effects can be pretty terrible as well. Exposure to excessive light can alter our sleep and wake cycles, core body temperature, hormone regulation and release, and patterns of gene expression. These could potentially have impacts on human health like breast and prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes, and depression.

Environmentally, a lot of wasted energy goes into keeping the lights on at night. The IDA estimates we waste about 30% of the lighting we use.

What can any of us do about this?

Well, we have a great thought leader to introduce you to that will leave you excited to tackle light pollution in your own world!

Our Featured Thought Leader Tackling the Problem

International Dark-Sky Association

The International Dark-Sky Association is a global leader in this mission to reduce light pollution. Since 1988, they have been educating the public about light pollution, helping to inform policies and research into how we can preserve dark skies.

Their mission is “to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.” They look at the issue of access to dark skies from a lot of angles. So whether your concern is just seeing the stars, making sure your health doesn’t suffer or reducing your strain on the natural world, they have resources you can dive into.

Additionally, they have a lot of practical knowledge you can use to make changes in your own home and lives to reduce your light footprint. Or, if you’ve found this topic particularly compelling, they have information and guides on how you can become an advocate in your own communities!

Simple Things You Can Do!

Assess the light pollution around you! Start with noticing the outdoor lighting in your own home or neighborhood. Take a second to recognize the major components of light pollution around you. (Glare, Skyglow, Light Trespass, Clutter)

Change your lighting: You can check out fixtures, bulbs and helpful tips on the IDA Site. Here are some of the basics to get you started:

Just light what you need
Shield lights and direct them downward
Use energy-efficient bulbs that are as bright as you need
Buy warm white light bulbs
Use light only when you need it by placing it on timers or motion sensors
Draw your blinds at night to keep indoor light inside

Advocate for lighting ordinances. If you are really passionate about the subject you can help to educate your community about changing their lighting practices. Check out this great page to get yourself started!

Become a citizen scientist! You can become a part of a global community of people helping scientists measure and study light pollution!

If you want some more ways to get involved IDA has a list of the top 10 ways you can help out! They provide some amazing resources to get you started. It’s one of the most informational and practical organizations we’ve had the pleasure of running into!

Keep up with the community!

Tell us how you are assessing the dark-skies in your life this month! Whether you’re spending some time stargazing, becoming an advocate for dark-skies, or just changing some bulbs around the house let us know!

Follow Ever Widening Circles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where we’ll be posting more about our own night skies! In Vermont, there’s nothing more beautiful (and rare) than a clear, warm, summer night. So, we’ll be sure to enjoy them a little more this month!

Finally, join the #ConspiracyofGoodness Facebook Group to see what other people are up to and share inspiration you come across.

Follow more from #ConspiracyofGoodness!

Every month we put out an edition of the Conspiracy Chronicles. It’s our newsletter that explores a major issue the world faces, and introduces you to one of the thought leaders tackling the problem! Along the way, we also share some great tips with you on how you can make a difference too!

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Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

CEO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV