Light Pollution Increasing Around The Globe, Researchers Say

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CBS News) — The world’s nights are getting alarmingly brighter — bad news for all sorts of creatures, humans included.

A German-led term reported Wednesday that light pollution is threatening darkness almost everywhere. Satellite observations during five Octobers show Earth’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by 2 percent a year from 2012 to 2016. So did nighttime brightness.

Light pollution is actually worse than that, according to the researchers. Their measurements coincide with the outdoor switch to energy-efficient and cost-saving light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. Because the imaging sensor on the polar-orbiting weather satellite can’t detect the LED-generated color blue, some light is missed.

The observations, for example, indicate stable levels of night light in the U.S., Netherlands, Spain and Italy. But light pollution is almost certainly on the rise in those countries given this elusive blue light, said Christopher Kyba of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences and lead author of the study published in Science Advances .

Also on the rise is the spread of light into the hinterlands and overall increased use. The findings shatter the long-held notion that more energy efficient lighting would decrease usage on the global — or at least a national — scale.

“Honestly, I had thought and assumed and hoped that with LEDs we were turning the corner. There’s also a lot more awareness of light pollution,” he told reporters by phone from Potsdam. “It is quite disappointing.”

See video, here.