Researchers and lighting experts warn against too much outdoor lighting – NRK


The autumn darkness has descended over the country.

Suddenly it got very dark outside the window, so what about a light or a lantern by the flower bed, the garage or the rubbish bin?

In recent years, sales of outdoor lighting have increased. LED lighting has made it easier and cheaper to light up gardens and terraces. The corona eruption has reinforced the trend, says Camilla Tully, communications manager at Clas Ohlson.

– This summer and autumn, we sold 90 percent more solar cell lights than last year. In the last four weeks, we have seen a sharp increase in sales of outdoor light strings (84%).

And it may not be so strange that we are tempted.

On social media such as Pinterest and Instagram, there are plenty of lighted trees, shrubs, house walls and footpaths.

But what can create a pleasant outdoor environment for us humans is not necessarily good for animals, birds and insects.

Insects such as flies, beetles, wasps and butterflies are attracted to artificial light sources.

Photo: NRK

– Garden lights can seem innocent if you only look at a garden. But what if we sum up the effects of a thousand gardens with garden lights ?, says Arne Follestad, researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Natural Research.

Light pollution in Norway has increased drastically after the LED light revolution. For many Norwegians, it will not be Christmas without flashing candle decorations inside.

Surprised by the effect

The term light pollution is unknown to many, but can be explained by the fact that there is light in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Follestad believes that light pollution receives too little attention in Norway.

Artificial light sources can act as traps for insects. Enormous numbers of different insect species are attracted to light. This applies especially to butterflies, but also many other insect groups such as flies, beetles and wasps.

– I am very surprised at how much effect light can have on certain organisms. Both in terms of how different effects it can have, and how many species can be affected.

Is there too much light outside?

Affects the birds

Nature conservation adviser Martin Eggen in the Norwegian Ornithological Society says that light affects the birds a lot.

Light allows them to look for food at other times of the day. It can also affect hormones that also control breeding time.

Christmas house Trondheim

Christmas houses with flashing lights in all colors create cosiness for many Norwegians in the dark.

Photo: Kjartan Ovesen / NRK

Birds can be attracted to light sources and land in places they would not otherwise land, and be harmed. The light can also affect the food the birds eat, such as insects and fish, according to Eggen.

– We see that gardens are being trimmed more and more. Even on islands and in open country, robotic lawnmowers work. People plant lawns where there used to be flower meadows. Glass surfaces and light pollution are set up both at home and in the cottage.

Nature conservation adviser Martin Eggen in the Norwegian Ornithological Society.

– We must to a greater extent relate to nature, rather than letting advertising and the neighbor control what we do with gardens and surroundings, says nature conservation consultant Martin Eggen.

Photo: Jon Olav Larsen

Eggen’s encouragement is to let the surroundings be as natural as possible and provide space for nature both in private gardens, by cabins and where we run agriculture, forests and land.

Cheap electricity provides a lot of light

Lighting designer Kristin Bredal specializes in lighting design for public spaces. She has prepared lighting plans for several Norwegian cities.

Right now it is the center of Stavanger that is next.

Bredal has a clear perception that there is a lot of light in Norwegian cities.

– It comes from the fact that we have very cheap electricity in Norway. But also around the world we see more and more light – a type of light that does not add more visibility, safety or quality, she believes.

Lighting designer Kristin Bredal in Zenisk

– Light has an enormous power. It is about how we feel well-being, security and understand the surroundings, says lighting designer Kristin Bredal.

In several countries, there is legislation on the use of light. Both Slovakia, France and several US states regulate the use of light.

However, light is important. Especially in northern Norway where it is dark time.

– Light is necessary for traffic safety and security for those who travel in the city. But if we are to achieve the climate goals, we cannot light up every war and nook of our cities.

Today, 19 percent of all electricity consumption globally goes to lighting. It can just as well be halved without losing character and quality, Bredal believes.

Autumn colors in street lights

The long, bright nights of the Norwegian summer have once again turned their backs on us. This means that many of us compensate with tea lighting for better visibility and atmosphere.

Photo: Torbjørn Vårlid

In the past, lighting was something the engineers, installers and manufacturers controlled.

It is now increasingly common to bring in lighting designers when urban meeting places are to be designed.

It is a win-win situation, the lighting designer believes.

– Light has an enormous power. It is about how we feel well-being, security and understand the surroundings. We think lighting in a design perspective rather than just thinking function.

An example of this is directing light sources away from the black asphalt and onto buildings. As the lighting of the cathedral in Tromsø, which Bredal has worked with.

– The lighting here means that the whole area is experienced as much brighter, and means that you do not need 20 park luminaires.

Nice dark time light in Bodø this weekend. Nice alternation between storm clouds and purple sky. Regards

Our lives in night-lit cities offer both security and experiences.

Photo: Stein Joar Olsen


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