How Tobermory Ontario is Reducing Light Pollution in a Big Way
I used to love going to the planetarium. It educated me on the stars that I wished on every night. It located the constellations I learned from reading my horoscope, and pinpointed Venus in the night sky. (You know, that planet where women are from according to relationship expert John Gray.) Well, sadly the planetarium closed in Toronto and my star admiration had to find a new source of information and visual stimulation. But unfortunately, when peering in the sky itself, the stars were faint and barely noticeable. This is thanks to light pollution. An issue that few truly understand, light pollution has caused more damage than most really comprehend. But not all is lost. Cities are taking an active stance on the problem and implementing actions and policies to lessen the effects and to bring back the night skies. And one of those places is Tobermory Ontario. They have taken measures to fix light pollution on the Bruce Peninsula in a big way.
So What Exactly is Light Pollution?
Light Pollution is the excessive use of artificial light in the darkened night environment. You know those spotlights that shine on your home at night? The street lamps that are extremely bright? Those are the prime offenders. Very few truly realize how damaging these lights and the light pollution has on the environment, wildlife, and on the night sky. Here are some of the affects light pollution has already had on earth.
- Humans through the years have become afraid of the dark causing an increase in the amount of light used to banish the darkness in the environment
- Thousands of birds die yearly due to light pollution as they are attracted to the light and collide with buildings, windows, poles, and other structures that obstruct their natural nighttime path. This is especially harmful to nocturnal birds such as owls who rely on the dark for hunting, mating, and other activities.
- Millions of moths and other insects are attracted to light and once they hit the bulbs they burn and die. Now most insects are pests, but even necessary species as bees and other cross-pollinating bugs die from the unnatural light.
- Fish and squid are being caught at a greater level due to light pollution shining in the waters. This affects their life spans, habitats and environments
- Nocturnal animals are most happy in the dark night skies. Taking this away from them will inhibit their natural lifestyle habits as hunting, mating, and living normally.
- Plant photosynthesis occurs in darker skies. By having artificial light shining upon plants and flowers, the natural process is gravely affected.
- To assist with efforts, scientists specializing in Scotobiology (the study of light pollution on wildlife and environments) are working around the clock with solutions to implement in willing towns and communities to bring the dark skies to their original state full of stars.
- Studies conducted indicate that bleaching of coral reefs has occurred due to light pollution
4 Easy Steps We Can Do
These four steps will help us reclaim the night skies:
- Reduce how much lighting you have in your home or community streets.
- Use warm bulbs instead of the harsh bright lights.
- Have your lights on for less time.
- Light up smaller areas.
So Tobermory Ontario, right at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula has taken the issue extremely seriously as it is home to a great range of plant and animal species. Their bread and butter is natural scenery and picturesque natural havens, that they simply needed to take a stance on the issue to preserve and save their natural gifts. Not only for tourism, but also for their own back yards’ well-being.
A committee was formed with scientists pulling together with teachers, educators, MPs, and other positions of power to bring the issue to the forefront and take measures to become nigh-sky friendly. The starry skies above Tobermory and over Lake Huron are some of the longest spanning dark areas in the world thanks to recapturing their glory.
All the lights in Tobermory are warm. This move was instigated by the committee to decrease pollution. It is quite unbelievable how a small move as this has saved wildlife, vegetation, and restored the stars in the sky. Even the cruise terminal has reduced its light pollution by 85%!
I recently wrote about our experience on the Chi Cheemaun Dinner Cruise. This ship not only offers exceptional gourmet dining, but also incredible experiences exclusive to the region. One of these is the Stargazing Cruise, taking passengers out in the heart of Lake Huron to view the dark skies Tobermory has worked so hard to restore.
The Stargazing cruise runs nightly during the summer season. Starting at 10 pm, the cruise runs 90 mins with commentary and quite a bit of information on the stars visible over the peninsula. Sadly the sky conditions can never be predicted however, so when booking do be prepared for the possibility of enjoying a presentation indoors instead. When we went, we had to do just that and learned further of the efforts made thus far in the region. I cannot deny that I was a little disappointed as the child in me was overly excited to relive the memories of the planetarium, but when clouds decide to monopolize the sky, there is nothing that can change that. In the end we learned a heap about how Tobermory is making an incredible international impact on the affect and control of light pollution, saving thousands of insects, plants, and animals through sheer hard work and dedication.
So now that you know what light pollution is, how it is created, and the harm that it is causing our environment, it is up to all of us to take steps to reduce the footprint in our communities. To be honest, I had no idea just how badly the lights we all use in the city affect the animals and have taken personal strides to ensure our home in Toronto is dark-sky-friendly.
When you head up to Tobermory Ontario, do check out their efforts in controlling their light usage and take the stargazing cruise to learn further on strides taken, research results, and how you can amend your lifestyle to save the earth from the harmful result of light pollution.
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We were a guest of the Chi Cheemaun Stargazing Cruise. All opinions are our own and were not influenced in any way.
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