One of the biggest challenges that come with helping people buy homes is not knowing what kinds of neighbors are around. I'm referring to good, hard working people who take pride in where they live and how they treat others - being neighborly! As of late, I've had an issue with a neighbor who refuses to turn down his lights that are shinning directly into other neighbors windows at night time not to mention interfering with the ability to observe the stars at night in a safe environment. This is a problem for several reasons...
1. SECURITY/ SAFETY: Unshielded or improperly aimed lighting creates excessive amounts of glare to the human eyes called Light Pollution and when it goes beyond an intended property line that's called Light Trespass. All of which, creates hard shadows making it more difficult to see around one's property contrary to the intended use. In fact, you could have a person or an animal like a rattlesnake positioned nearby and not be able to see them because of the intense glare. Picture a scene from a cop movie where the officer shines their mag light right into the face of the "perp," who is literally blinded and cannot see much else than the intense light. The truth is bad outdoor lighting can decrease safety by making victims and property easier to see. A Chicago Alley Lighting Project showed a correlation between brightly lit alleyways and increased crime. https://www.darksky.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Chicago-Alley-Lighting-Project.pdf
2. HEALTH: Now imagine your bedroom is straight across the street or right next to this neighbor. Do you see where I'm going with this? Now you are inconvenienced because your neighbor's light is trespassing on your rights as a home owner to enjoy where you live in peace. Sleep health is a major issue in the world, hence all the pills, potions and remedies to aid in people getting a full nights rest. Nature intended us to sleep when it is dark, that's part of our circadian rhythms for all living creatures which is compromised when light happens at times of the night when it's not supposed to. This excessive night time lighting is the reason for Light Glow throughout the world and a case that is pointing researchers in the direction of prostate cancer. In this case of the wayward night light with your neighbor, you could kindly ask them to turn off or turn down their lights and/or remind them that there is a better way to light the exterior of their home without affecting you which is the neighborly thing to do. As a member of the IDA, we have "Good Neighbor Lighting" letters for this particular reason that might help your situation. Feel free to ask me for one and I will gladly send you my version or check out the link for more details... https://www.darksky.org/our-work/lighting/lighting-for-citizens/my-neighbors-lighting/
HERITAGE: As the newly elected Director of the International Dark Sky Association - Colorado Chapter and Founder of the Castle Pines Astronomy Club, I'm committed to educating and inspiring people of all ages to get outside and appreciate the majestic skies at night time. My goal is to get others excited about looking into the sky like they did when they were children. Do you remember the first time you witnessed the sky so dark that you saw our Milky Way Galaxy and wondered what it was? Pretty incredible, right?! Or the stories of your late Grandpa and his adventures with UFO's when he was younger? The point I'm making is that the stars and planets in the sky connect us with our ancestors. The heavens have caused humans to seek answers to the very existence of life as we know it and inspired countless inventions and amazing movies about space and travel like Star Trek, Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy to name a few!
ENERGY WASTE/ CONSERVATION: Here's something to think about... We have but one planet to live on - Earth! God, gave us the ability to inhabit the earth and have dominion over it, but no where did He say to destroy it. We owe it to one another to be stewards of our home and that means taking care of it like a good shepherd. If we all do just a little bit more we can make a difference when we try. Like the "Compound Effect" by Darren Hardy, one little change can make a huge impact down the road. For example, one light bulb (incandescent) left on every night for one year uses up to 1000 lbs of coal energy! Imagine if everyone of us turned off just light bulb? Now some of you are saying the incandescent bulb is in the past and to some degree, you are right. However, these bulbs are still being made and used next to fluorescent and now LED lights. We have transitioned from one problem with inefficient bulbs to another with LED bulbs and light that is too Bright! We went from one problem to another! Right now as we speak the entire country of France has passed a decree to keep lights where they belong and reduce light pollution. https://www.darksky.org/france-light-pollution-law-2018/
WILDLIFE/ ECOSYSTEMS: This misuse of lighting has drastic effects on plants and animals disrupting growth cycles and migration patterns. http://www.darksky.org/light-pollution/wildlife/
So what is all this about? I want everyone to consider how we affect the world around us. Unlike my neighbor who refuses to compromise by installing Dark Sky compliant lighting at my cost even, there are others who are the voice of reason and willing to meet in the middle. Of course, I always advocate for no lights on at night, however for those who feel safer a compromise is possible with properly shielded outdoor lighting so everyone is happy. I believe we are our brothers and sisters keeper and we owe it to each other to do our best to be our best in all that we do. So the next time you are ready to move consider taking time to scout an area or neighborhood. Ask your local Realtor if any conservation programs or Dark Sky ordinances exist. Better yet, go talk to your future neighbors and see what they do to make their community better. Be informed, get involved and make a difference - That's what a Good Neighbor would do!
Comments or Questions? Let's hear them!