For thousands of years, mankind has been inspired by the night sky — a sky that we are slowly losing due to the proliferation of electric lighting. Released on Friday, the detailed New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness reveals how light pollution is contaminating our dark nights and erasing the stars from view for hundreds of thousands around the globe.
"Twenty years ago, light pollution could be considered only a problem for astronomers. But fundamentally, life has evolved over millions of years with half the time dark and half the time light, and we have now enveloped our planet in a luminous fog of light. Light pollution has become a real environmental problem on a global scale," the atlas' lead author Fabio Falchi said.
— NOAA Research (@NOAAResearch) June 10, 2016
According to the report, more than a third of the people living on the planet cannot see the Milky Way where they live due to light pollution, Scientific American reports. For Americans, it's even worse — four out of every five people can't see the silver band of our galaxy when the sun sets. In places like Singapore, South Korea, and Qatar, light pollution is so bad that people can hardly see any stars at all.
There are still regions of darkness on our planet — though they are steadily vanishing. Some of the friendliest regions to stargazers include Chad, Papua New Guinea, and Madagascar.
"Our civilization's religion, philosophy, science, art and literature all have roots with our views of the heavens, and we are now losing this with consequences we cannot fully know," Falchi said. "What happens when we cannot be inspired by the night sky?" Jeva Lange