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Prelims Capsule


How Light Pollution disrupts Dung Beetles’ sense of direction?

How Light Pollution disrupts Dung Beetles’ sense of direction?


  • GS 3 || Environment || Environment & Ecology || Pollution

Why in news?

Dung beetles were utilized by researchers to investigate the effects of increasing light pollution on our environment.

Study on the dung beetle and its findings:

  • The study compared the dung-rolling performance of beetles in a rural part of Limpopo province with that of beetles at the University of Witwatersrand in inner city Johannesburg, both in South Africa.
  • Findings confirm that beetles exposed to light pollution (direct light and skyglow) are forced to change strategy.
  • They abandon their sky compass and rely instead on earthbound artificial lights as beacons.

About Skyglow:

  • The Skyglow is a blanket of light that blankets the night sky in and around cities, blocking out all but the brightest stars.
  • The Skyglow is caused by the brightness of the night sky above inhabited areas caused by streetlights, security floodlights, and outdoor decorative lights.
  • This light pours straight into the eyes of the Nocturnal (active at night) as well as into the heavens and misleads their route.
  • ‘Skyglow’ is one of the components of light pollution.

All Light Pollution:

About Light Pollution:

  • Light pollution (LP) is a phrase that refers to the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light, which may have serious consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate.
  • Light pollution includes the following elements:
    • Glare: excessive brightness that produces visual discomfort.
    • Sky glow: It is refers to the brightening of the night sky over populated regions.
    • Light trespassing: It is defined as light falling in an area where it is not intended or required.
    • Clutter: Excessive groups of light sources that are bright, confused, and distracting.

Causes of light pollution:

  • Urbanization:LP is a side effect of industrial civilization or Urbanization.
  • Commercial buildings:Building exterior and interior lighting, advertising, commercial premises, offices, industries, streetlights, and lighted athletic arenas are all sources of LP.

  • Satellite:Weather satellite data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may understate the issue since its sensor cannot identify some of the LED lighting that is becoming more common, particularly blue light.
  • LED lighting:Experts had hoped that the rising adoption of energy-efficient LED lighting would reduce global energy consumption.
  • Energy consumption: According to the latest results, the usage of artificial lighting is on the rise, resulting in increased energy consumption.
  • The city’s switch from sodium to LED street lighting reveals that energy savings are compensated by the addition of more or brighter lights in other areas.

How does a satellite contribute?

  • Large fleets of communication satellites sent into space not only contribute to light pollution, but they also crash and create additional debris.
  • The light from the accumulating debris obscures celestial bodies such as the Milky Way’s “glowing clouds of stars” from human view.
  • While sophisticated cameras and telescopes can resolve space objects as single points of light, low-resolution light detectors like the human eye can only discern the cumulative effect of numerous such objects.
  • Astronomers have warned that an increasing number of man-made space objects is clogging the sky and interfering with observations.

Impact of light pollution:

  • The disappearance of the stars affects many animals that rely on compass references:
    • When traveling outbound, nocturnal ants use landmarks, but when returning home, they require their sky compass.
    • Migratory birds use a magnetic compass to check latitude and magnetic North, but they calibrate their magnetic compass to geographic North using their sky compass.
  • Wastes Energy and Money: Lighting that produces too much light or shines when and where it isn’t required is inefficient. Energy waste has significant economic and environmental implications.
  • Endangering human health: Humans, like the majority of life on Earth, follow a Circadian Rhythm – our biological clock — a sleep-wake cycle dictated by the day-night cycle. That cycle can be disrupted by artificial light at night.

Solutions to stop light pollution:

  • Turning off unneeded lights: A simple approach is to decrease direct and indirect light pollution for animals by turning off unneeded lights at night.
  • Shielded to prevent light: Where lights cannot be turned off, they can be shielded to prevent light from entering the surrounding surroundings and sky.
  • International Dark Sky Places:More than 130 ‘International Dark Sky Places’ have been certified by the International Dark-Skies Association, where artificial lighting has been modified to decrease skyglow and light trespass. Almost all, though, are in the northern hemisphere’s wealthy countries.
  • Less-developed places are frequently both species-rich and currently light-polluted, offering a chance to invest in lighting solutions before animals in such areas are significantly harmed.

Additional info:

  • The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has accepted Niue’s proposal for the protection of its sky, land, and sea, making it the world’s first complete country to be designated as a “Dark Sky Place.” Niue is a tiny island nation off the coast of the South Pacific Ocean.

Mains oriented question:

Light pollution is recently in news due to its adverse effect on nature? Explain light pollution and its effect in detail. (200 words)