Artificial lights are eating away at dark nights — and that’s not a good thing

Thanks to electric lights, outdoor lighting grew at a rate of 3% to 6% annually in the second half of the 20th century. While this has benefited human productivity and safety, it has come with a dark side: The night is no longer dark enough.

Half of Europe and a quarter of North America have experienced seriously modified light-dark cycles, the study authors wrote, calling it a “widespread ‘loss of the night.’ ”

This light pollution can have serious consequences for living things, which have evolved in accordance with a natural day-night cycle, where the only major sources of light at night would have been the moon or more intermittent sources such as volcanoes, lightning, wildfires or auroras.

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