Home > NewsRelease > Artificial Light at Night: Friend or Foe
Artificial Light at Night: Friend or Foe
Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP --  The Herman Group Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP -- The Herman Group
Austin, TX
Wednesday, July 27, 2022


The Herman Trend Alert

July 27, 2022

Artificial Light at Night: Friend or Foe

Those of us with sleep issues intimately understand the effects of artificial light on our ability to get a good night of sleep. (I even have red lights in my bathroom, so that I do not have to use white or blue light in my life after dark.) However, artificial light outside of the house also deserves our consideration. Most of us appreciate the lights that illuminate our streets, especially when we need to be out at night. These lights make our neighborhoods safer. However, what most of us have not thought about is the insidious effect of these lights on all living things---including trees, plants, four-legged animals and even humans. The difficulty is that living things have rhythm tied to the natural cycles of light and dark of day and night, and light at night disrupts that natural cycle.

What is ALAN?

Artificial Light At Night (ALAN) is the sum total of light protecting homes and attracting customers to businesses, as well as the lights used to keep streets and highways safe. The problem is that this human-generated brightness is widespread and already showing an adverse impact on the planet's ecosystem.

ALAN Has Been Studied Extensively

Between 2011 and 2016, the study was conducted in four cities throughout the United States: Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, and Houston. Those cities were believed to be representative of a wide range of climate conditions to examine the expected changes under future climate and ALAN scenarios. The trees were studied for their breaking leaf buds and colored leaves. The results were disturbing.

ALAN's Detrimental Effects

The researchers found meaningful and increasing changes: First, ALAN significantly advanced the date of breaking leaf buds by 8.9 to about 6.9 days and it delayed the coloring of leaves by approximately 6.0 to 11.9 days on average. Second, the scale of cyclical changes was closely associated with the intensity of the ALAN. And finally, there was a connection between the ALAN and the temperature on the coloring of leaves, but not on the breaking leaf buds. And those effects have an impact on the timing and lengths of allergy seasons as well as the potential frost-risk for early budding trees and other growing plants. As urbanization continues, we may expect increasing temperatures as well as increases in the effects of the ALAN.

Three Solutions Humans Can Live WIth

After reading about the detrimental effects of ALAN, I decided to research what we could do about it. The good news is that light pollution seems to be within the ability of humans to control. Through my research, I found a strategy for preserving the night. First, architects, planners, and lighting designers need to understand the effects of ALAN and the importance of natural light at night. Then, hopefully, in their designs they will emphasize natural lighting at night, and that will minimize the problems of artificial light. Second, we can shield lights, which could reduce the light pollution in half---overnight. Ideally, this shielding would be implemented during the installation of fixtures. Another good strategy is to choose programmable lighting fixtures that will dim or go off entirely during certain times of the night. Shining outside lights only downward can also help. Finally, working within our communities, we can ensure that "night-sky friendly" lights that shine only toward the ground are installed. Moreover, we can work to make sure that our government, schools, businesses, towns, and cities choose lights that do not contribute to the problem. As old lights burn out and need replacement, we can make sure they are replaced with lights that reduce the problem of light pollution rather than make it worse.

We Simply Do Not Realize . . .

Most of us who live in cities forget about the value of nighttime on the human condition. We are so surrounded by artificial light that we believe it is normal; we are unaware of what we are losing when we cut ourselves off from natural darkness. Now, there is so much light pollution on the planet that we need to have Dark Sky Parks to see the Milky Way and many of the stars. Over 60 percent of people living in Europe and over 80 percent of those living in North American can no longer see the Milky Way. What if there could be a cultural shift towards minimizing ALAN and all buildings were lit with the thought that the night should be appreciated, not ignored? By lighting our nights with thought and care, we could enrich the value of our cities and towns and make it possible for the "magic of the night" to reappear.

To read the studies that were the source for this Herman Trend Alert, visit https://academic.oup.com/pnasnexus/article/1/2/pgac046/6569705 and https://vms.velux.com/commercialblog/the-effects-of-artificial-light-at-night


Next Week's Herman Trend Alert: Super-Agers

Some people in their 70s and 80s do not look or feel their ages. Through exercise and dieting, Super-Agers have slowed the aging clock and managed to keep the mental and physical capabilities of those decades younger. In this Alert, I will unlock their latest secrets.




This week, our own author, Joyce will record the second episode of her own show on Roku.tv. It's Your Future with Joyce Gioia debuted last month in various timeslots---due to time zones. The second episode will feature Joyce talking about "The Future of Living Spaces." Of course, Joyce will continue to deliver the futures commentary segment of INGOMU's podcast, The Future of Life, Work, and Wellness which also appears on the Futures Television channel on Roku.tv. Each podcast closes with a special commentary from our author Joyce about what the interview insights mean for the future. Eventually, FuturesTelevision.com will offer the listings for the showings of both programs.



With the workforce crisis detailed in a recent Herman Trend Alert, you could really use a leg up in competing for top talent. Winning the Employer of Choice® Award could be your competitive edge in this very tight labor market. Celebrate your employee-centered corporate culture! This coveted award is well worth the effort, yet is not easy to achieve. Download the extensive application at EmployerofChoice.com; or for a Word® version, drop a note to Joyce@EmployerOfChoice.com or call Joyce at 1.336.210.3548.

To read this Herman Trend Alert on the web: https://hermangroup.com/alert/archive_7-27-2022.html.


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Name: Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP
Title: Certified Speaking Professional and Management Consultant
Group: The Herman Group
Dateline: Austin, TX United States
Direct Phone: 336-210-3548
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