BigBiology Podcasts
Episode 053: Turn Down the Lights: The Ecological Effects of Bright Lights



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Art Woods, Marty Martin


Kevin Gaston


How has the amount of artificial light changed over the last 150 years? In what ways does artificial light affect human health and wildlife? And how can new lighting technologies ameliorate the effects of light pollution?

On this episode of Big Biology we talk to Kevin Gaston (@KevinJGaston), a professor of Biodiversity & Conservation at the University of Exeter. Kevin is an expert on the ecological impacts of artificial light and in particular “sky glow”--the combined glow of all lights coming from cities and towns. In our chat, we discussed how light production has grown over the past several decades and the growing impacts that it's having on our planet. Further, we discuss some of the psychology behind the human desire for bright spaces and what we as individuals can do to reduce the impacts of light pollution on ourselves and the organisms around us.

This episode is sponsored by the Zoological Lighting Institute. Recognizing that natural light is a central aspect of animal health and ecological function, The Zoological Lighting Institute promotes scientific research to improve understanding of what artificial changes in light mean for animals and the human communities that depend on them. Through education on light pollution, ZLI hopes that proper and sustainable approaches to care and development of light sources can be taken by communities around the globe.

Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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Episode 053: Turn Down the Lights: The Ecological Effects of Bright Lights