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Wildlife needs dark night skies


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Read on - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 6/2022 vom 31.05.2022

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1 WHEN YOU look at satellite pictures of Earth at night, you can see that many places aren’t ever completely dark. More than 80 per cent of our planet is lit up with artificial light all the time. When there is too much artificial light, this is called “light pollution”.

Like air or water pollution, light pollution is dangerous to wildlife.

2 This excessive use of light from homes, office buildings, street lights, sport stadiums, and outdoor advertising disrupts the natural rhythm of animals. Light pollution has been shown to have negative effects on many species of insects, birds, fish, and turtles.

3 Brett Seymoure, an ecologist at Washington University in St Louis, says, “the sun is basically like a clock”. The change between night and day gives animals signals for when to feed, sleep, ...

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... migrate, and find a mate. Artificial light turns night into day, and this changes animal behaviour.

4 Because of light pollution, daytime species become active by night and don’t get enough sleep.

And night-time species don’t look for food or a mate because they normally aren’t active when there’s light.

5 Some insects, like moths, are too attracted to light. They often die when they come in contact with a light source. Or they fly around it until they die from exhaustion. It’s also easier for predators to find – and eat – them.

6 Other species, such as migratory birds, use the light of the moon and the stars to find their way. City lights from buildings can confuse them. Sometimes whole flocks of birds die when they crash into brightly lit buildings. In October 2020, 1,500 birds died in one night because they crashed into an office building in Philadelphia in the US.

7 Afterwards, building owners and tenants agreed to turn off or dim their lights between midnight and 6am during birds’ migration season. They called the initiative “Lights Out Philly”, and now there are many like it across the US. Up to one billion birds die every year from flying into buildings in the US. These initiatives hope to lower those numbers.

8 Several US states and some countries, such as Slovenia, France, and Croatia, have even passed laws to reduce light pollution. And in the UK, a parliamentary group has made a plan to reduce the excessive use of artificial light and to support more “dark sky places”.

9 Dark sky places are places that have worked to reduce light pollution. These places are certified by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which was founded in the US in 1988 to preserve the natural night sky.

10 The IDA protects 110,000 square kilometres of dark places around the world. It informs people about the effects of light pollution and also helps towns and cities by encouraging them to introduce measures to reduce light pollution.

11 For example, towns and cities could use street lights that only turn on when there is movement and use lights that shine downwards, not up into the sky. Adding timers and dimmers to outside lights also helps, as well as using yellow light, which has less of a negative effect on wildlife than blue-white light.

12 Unlike other ecological problems, it’s not hard to end light pollution. It doesn’t even mean turning off all the lights: closing curtains at night so that light doesn’t shine outside helps, as does using yellow light for outdoor lighting and making sure it’s shielded. Also, we can use light only when and where we need it.

13 With a little effort, we canpreserve the natural night sky for all the creatures who thrive in the darkness.

0 – 1 WILDLIFE “"waIldlaIf‘ Wildtiere — ecology “i…"kÅl´dZI‘ — artificial light “Æa…tI"fIS´l‘ künstliches Licht — with a little effort “"ef´t‘ mit ein wenig Einsatz — to preserve “prI"z‰…v‘ bewahren — completely “k´m"pli…tli‘ völlig — lit up erleuchtet — light pollution “p´"lu…S´n‘ Lichtverschmutzung

2 excessive “Ik"sesIv‘ übermäßig viel — outdoor advertising “Æ--"œdv´taIzIN‘ Werbetafeln und Leuchtreklamen im Freien — to disrupt “dIs"røpt‘ stören — rhythm “"rID´m‘ — to have been shown to do nachweislich tun — species “"spi…Si…z ‘ Spezies; Art — turtle Schildkröte

3 – 5 basically “"beIsIk´li‘ im Grunde — to feed Nahrung aufnehmen — to migrate “maI"greIt‘ wandern — mate Partner(in) — to turn s.th. into etw. in … verwandeln — behaviour Verhalten — moth Motte — to be attracted to s.th. “´"trœktId‘ sich von etw. angezogen fühlen — light source Lichtquelle — to die from exhaustion “Ig"zO…stS´n‘ vor Erschöpfung sterben — predator “"pred´t´‘ Fressfeind

6 – 7 migratory bird “"maIgr´t´ri‘ Zugvogel — to confuse s.o. “k´n"fju…z‘ jdn. verwirren — flock of birds Vogelschwarm — to crash into s.th. gegen etw. prallen — tenant “"ten´nt‘ Mieter(in) — to agree to sich darauf einigen, zu … — migration season “maI"greIS´n‘ Hauptzugzeit — initiative “I"nIS´tIv‘ — across in den gesamten … — billion “"bIli´n‘ Milliarde

8 – 10 to pass laws Gesetze verabschieden — parliamentary group “ÆpA…l´"ment´ri‘ parlamentarischer Ausschuss — to support “s´"pO…t‘ unterstützen — to certify “"s‰…tIfaI‘ zertifizieren; h.: ausweisen — association “´Æs´USi"eIS´n‘ Gesellschaft — to found “faUnd‘ gründen — to protect “pr´"tekt‘ schützen — to encourage “In"kørIdZ‘ ermutigen — to introduce “ÆIntr´"dju…s‘ einführen — measures “"meZ´z‘ Maßnahmen

11 – 13 movement Bewegung — downwards “"daUn w´dz‘ nach unten — to add hinzufügen; h.: anbringen — timer Zeitschaltuhr — shielded “"Si…ldId‘ abgeschirmt — creature “"kri…tS´‘ Geschöpf — to thrive “"TraIv‘ gedeihen — darkness “"dA…knIs‘ Dunkelheit