Possible ways to lower the impact of artificial lighting on nature and people

Theoretically, light pollution is one of the easiest anthropogenic forms of pollution to be addressed, as daily and widely caused environmental harm. Still, it is also one of the hardest to reduce or prevent because of human needs and habits (compared to the caused environmental damage). The simple logic in reducing artificial lighting pollution is to efficiently light the needed space and leave the rest of the environment dark, as it naturally is at night. This would minimise skyglow, but awareness about the growing need to decrease light pollution must be raised all over the world. One such awareness-raising campaign is the ‘Dim it Campaign’ that urges capitals and other major cities to switch off their lights for an hour (Drustvo temno nebo Slovenije 2019). Nevertheless, better, more environmentally friendly lighting design and implementation of standard lighting guidelines and regulations are crucial. For Azman and colleagues (2019), better lighting design includes installing properly shielded light fixtures and efficiently directing the intended light. Some states already install special cutoff hoods or translucent prisms over lamps mandatory to effectively lower the light intensity and adequately control the light at its intended surface. Besides, lights have been, in some cases, directed from the top down to avoid light trespass and glare directed to the atmosphere that leads to skyglow. Lighting ordinances, such as limiting light intensities, allowing lamps with an only specific amount of power usage and denoting times when non-crucial lighting should be dimmed or switched off, can help reduce sky brightness (Drustvo temno nebo Slovenije 2019).

The limitation of light pollution can best function in the limited capacity of mitigation and preservation efforts, focusing on finding acceptable artificial lighting levels that will not harm the environment in general, especially all living species (animals, plants and human beings).

Azman and colleagues (2019) note that the 350-years-long project of illuminating our nights has produced a challenging situation, with many negative consequences caused by an overabundance of artificial illumination. Scott and Narboni (2015) clarify that the realisation of a long day is increasingly perceived as a loss of the night, linked to modern society’s technical development. Suppose we try to answer the question raised in the first introductory part, about how much artificial light at night is appropriate. In that case, we realise that the concept of sustainable development, applied to the artificial lighting in urban areas, should be the starting point of answering this question. This way, dark-sky areas are a form of night landscape protection and reduction of light pollution. However, the lack of social awareness regarding the issue of exposure to artificial light at night is still widespread. Lopuszyhska (2018) notes that the usage of technical outdoorlighting modernisation devices (such as time settings, light routers and mats, and light sensors) for lighting reduction are recognised and used.

Gaston and colleagues (2015) note that the present artificial night-time lighting pattern worldwide is produced by the interaction between topography, the distributions of built structures and vegetation, and a mosaic of lighting systems. These systems cause spatially and temporally heterogeneous emissions patterns in terms of their intensity, spectra and flicker (Hale et al. 2013, Small and Elvidge 2013). In the last decade, widespread changes happened with the introduction of whiter (LED) lights and projects to introduce solar-powered lighting to remote rural areas. Gaston and colleagues (2015) warn that existing lighting systems must be updated due to often poor designs following the fulfilment of human needs and limiting negative environmental impacts. Therefore, there is lots of space for improvement and implementation of technologies that ‘provide clear win-wins’ (Gaston et al. 2013, p. 15). Moreover, sometimes elementary and inexpensive solutions (e.g. automatic switching devices, systems with programmable lighting controllers for setting the duration and lighting levels) and better enforcement of lighting ordinances can go a long way in fighting light pollution. Furthermore, living trees (one has to bear in mind that trees themselves are also affected by lighting while used to shield humans from light pollution, as constant lighting confuses their day/night awareness and consequently affects their processes), road dimensions and the physical characteristics of buildings are another group of options for the reduction of light pollution.

To prevent environmental harms caused by artificial lighting, first, the appropriate rules and regulations are needed. Different environmental crime and harm prevention strategies and methods - including innovative architecture, crime and harm mapping, strategic planning, community and problem-oriented policing, international networks, NGOs' activism and other techniques - can prevent and reduce the light pollution damage. Their main goal is to decrease or eliminate the impact of environmental crime, disorder and harm caused by light pollution. Reactive responses deal with environmental damage that has already occurred and try to contain it. Proactive responses prevent environmental harm and crime from being committed, and consequently, environmental harm from occurring. Therefore, environmental crime/harm prevention should be based on a problemsolving model with possible (city-)police intervention based on the focused case study and much better than the policy-prescribed model (general instructions). We have to consider the type of skills, capacities and organisational relationships that will be successfill in environmental crime prevention (Mesko et al. 2011). Therefore, green criminology should embrace these enviromnental crimes (harms) prevention methods to reduce the light pollution’s harmful effects on humans and the environment.

From a criminological perspective, when dealing with any enviromnental harm issues caused by artificial light pollution (e.g. harms of ecosystems, human health and well-being, energy losses, carbon emission), the previously mentioned environmental harm and crime (i.e. crime refers to criminal offences facilitated by illuminated spaces at night) prevention methods should be used. In the past, SCP

Green criminology on light pollution 91 methods became very useful at solving the environmental crime and disorder and environmental harm issue (Mesko et al. 2011). SCP is specific because it does not necessarily involve more enforcement, but it involves more creative strategies to prevent harm or crime before it occurs. For Mesko and colleagues (2011), SCP is closely connected to increasing awareness of threats against the environment. As with every crime prevention method, this group also applies to environmental harm and crime. For this very reason, NGOs and other public local societies or movements are most often leaders of the artificial light pollution prevention in their communities, countries and the planet Earth. Most known are so-called dark-sky associations, such as the International Dark-Sky Association, Society Dark Sky of Slovenia (orig. Drustvo temno nebo Slovenije), etc. (Drustvo temno nebo Slovenije 2019. International Dark-Sky Association 2020). They all strive for more environmentally friendly legislation in terms of solving light pollution issues; use of lighting fixhires that shield light sources to minimise skyglow, glare and light trespass vision at night to a minimum; the use of lighting that has a colour of temperature no more than 3,000 degrees Kelvin (in other words, the yellow light spectrum);7 the use of lighting ordinances to govern city street illumination; and different activist actions, such as switching off the lights for one hour on the entire planet, etc.

Considering various issues of controlling light pollution as a form of environmental crime and other potentially harmful activities via regulation, criminal and administrative law, and traditional enforcement activities, crime prevention methods represent a suitable alternative. The idea to act before environmental harm has occurred seems appealing; therefore, environmental crime prevention should start developing a knowledge base of successful and working light pollution prevention methods. For example, the use of different technical outdoor lighting modernisation devices (time settings, light routers and mats, light sensors, etc.) for lighting reduction are already recognised and widely used (e.g. street lighting with the lighting directed down to the street and not up in the sky), and awarenessraising campaigns have started already in the primary schools.

The basic principles of environmental crime prevention must be guided by considering ecological balance (White 2008). Environmental harm and crime prevention, including artificial light pollution, has to incorporate a wide range of new techniques, technologies and expertise (e.g. taxonomy and rare species protection, obscuring artificial light. [re]directing artificial light) as applied to varying types of environmental harm and environmental issues connected to it (White 2008). A problem-solving-oriented approach to environmental crime prevention demands inclusion of commonly accepted statements, definitions and decisions about the nature of light pollution as a form of environmental crime and caused harm. Thus, situational harm reduction (e.g. prevention of harm and crime with situational [crime] prevention methods) is only one among several tools required to repair the harm caused by artificial lighting. Environmental ethics and changes in human behaviour towards the environment are inevitable. Green criminology must be sure that targeted environmental crime prevention measures also overall provide useful, broader-based and more exposed basic prevention methods against the environment and environmentally friendly behaviour.

 
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