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Light pollution in Kerala is causing environmental damage and birds death – The New Indian Express

Light pollution in Kerala is causing environmental damage and birds death – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

KOCHI: Artificial illumination is a growing threat to the state’s environment, wildlife, and animals. The lack of proper guidelines and legislation makes it difficult for the pollution control board (PCB), as well as local bodies, to determine how to reduce such pollution.

According to the state PCB officials, there is no legislation to regulate artificial illumination which is increasing in number in the state.

Every state’s inaugural ceremony and religious celebration is illuminated with flood lights, party lights and illumination. Distracting motorists are also artificial lights and illuminated hoardings that are inappropriately and misdirected.

According to studies, artificial lighting is on the rise globally by at least 2 percent per year. It is also known to negatively affect many bird species. Experts say that light pollution is a major threat to migratory bird species. The World Migratory Bird Day campaign this year focuses on light pollution.

A K Sivakumar (WWF’s senior education officer) said that artificial illumination should be controlled by the state government to protect the natural ecosystem. Light pollution is a problem for migratory birds that causes them to become disoriented when they fly at nights. It also affects their ability to make long-distance, night-cycle migrations. This is a serious problem that our society doesn’t know about. He stated that the adverse impact on migration has resulted in many migratory species disappearing.

According to studies, light-led disorientation can cause collisions with other buildings and disturb the internal clocks in birds.

He stated that lit-up beaches also pose a danger to many marine species. High-mast lights and other illumination make it difficult for marine turtles to hatch eggs along the shore. Many turfs have been built in the state recently with flood lights. There is no regulation regarding the timings, and the flood lights are negatively affecting the lives and activities of birds and other nocturnal animals. Sivakumar said that we should learn to live with minimal lighting so that all living things can coexist.

According to environmental experts it is high time that society accepts this reality and makes changes to preserve an ecosystem that can support all living things.

Veena Maruthoor, an environmental educator, said that artificial lighting can cause stress in animals, birds, and even plants. Birds and animals have a sleep cycle just like humans. Studies recommend that all lights be turned off for a restful night. Animals need their natural ecosystem to function properly, which cannot be disturbed by artificial lighting. This is a globally accepted fact. Zoos in other countries have switched off lights at night to avoid disturbing animals. It is high time that we intervene and raise awareness. Veena stated that we need to learn how to live in harmony within our natural environment and not disturb the ecosystems of other species.

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Distractions for motorists

Artificial illumination is not just a source of environmental pollution, but it also contributes to road accidents and threatens road safety. The National Transportation Planning and Research Centre has made strong recommendations against street lighting and illuminated hoardings in preparation for the draft state policy regarding outdoor advertising.

Road safety experts believe that illuminated advertisements reduce the effectiveness or obscure traffic signal systems. Road safety problems can also be caused by poorly planned street lights. TNIE was told by S Shaheem (NATPAC’s principal scientist) that the organisation does not recommend street lights in rural areas. We recommend reflective studs and other reflective stickers, which provide light for motorists using roads and highways. Street lights should always be placed at critical points where pedestrian movement can be more easily achieved. Proper lighting is required at busy intersections. Shaheem said that street lights and high mast lights are installed without considering the requirements.

He stated that illuminated advertisements would cause glare and impair pedestrians’ vision, leading to road accidents. He said that the Indian Road Congress would soon develop a code to regulate street lights, and other artificial illuminations.

Light pollution: How to reduce it

  • Recommendations for a draft state policy regarding outdoor ads
  • Promoting the use of LED technology for illuminations and displays.
  • Avoid using illuminated ads that obscure or reduce the effectiveness of traffic signals
  • Flashing, intermittent light source, moving light, animation, or ads that contain flashing should be prohibited. This is except for those providing public service information about time, weather, or date.
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