Hawaii County could save money and attract tourists by reducing light pollution, according to a presentation by a Big Island activist to be heard this week by the County Council.
Puna resident Michael Marlin will discuss with the council’s Committee on Climate Resilience and Natural Resource Management on Tuesday the value of “dark sky” initiatives, which are policies aimed at reducing light pollution to create clearer views of the night sky.
“What I like to say is that, as far as environmental pollutants go — and Mexico has named light pollution as an environmental pollutant — light pollution is the cheapest and easiest pollutant to mitigate,” Marlin said. “It’s way easier than something like Red Hill.”
Marlin — a longtime advocate for dark sky policies — said oversaturated and improperly positioned lighting has drastically reduced the visibility of the night sky throughout even moderately populated areas. But correcting those errors would not only be relatively cheap and easy, but could have long-term benefits for health and safety, he said.
“The thing everyone always worries about is safety,” Marlin said. “We need the lights, so we can be safe at night.”
However, Marlin said that unshielded lighting and LED lights are actually worse for nighttime visibility than properly shielded and balanced light.
“Our eyes evolved over thousands of years to detect sunlight, moonlight, starlight and firelight, but these bright LEDs overwhelm them — you end up blinded by them,” Marlin said.
Furthermore, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health &Safety determined in a 2010 study — and confirmed again in a 2019 followup — that shorter-wavelength lights such as LEDs are associated with “retinal toxicity” and can cause long-term health effects ranging from…
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Wanda Beck is a technology reporter who covers the intersection of business and crypto. A native of Boston, Wanda spent almost five years at The Boston25News, where she wrote extensively about the media industry's struggle to adapt to the Internet.
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