“We are calling for a ban on illuminated signs” in the city, “which are strictly useless”, said this Saturday, October 9 on franceinfo Stephen Kerckhove, general delegate of the association Agir pour l’Environnement, on the occasion of the 13th edition of “Day of the night”. 700 events are scheduled for this national event to raise awareness of light pollution and the protection of biodiversity at night.
franceinfo: City dwellers, in particular, live in the light all the time. Does this have consequences for our health?
Stephen kerckhove : In June 2021, the National Academy of Medicine asked the public authorities to classify exposure to artificial light in the list of endocrine disrupting agents. So we now know that this light pollution ends up having consequences, both on the ability to sleep well and on the secretion of melatonin. This obviously disrupts our biological clock, but not just ours. Most vertebrates and invertebrates are exclusively or partially nocturnal, and we tend to say that nighttime lighting is a second insecticide that we do not see. For example, a study showed that grasslands subject to light pollution recorded a 62% drop in pollinator visits.
“Over the past twenty years, artificial light has increased by 84%”Stephen Kerckhove, Acting for the Environment
Street lighting also comes at a cost. Should we impose even stricter restrictions on communities?
We have 11 million light points for public lighting and 3.5 million advertising signs. And it’s only growing year by year, despite the fact that awareness is growing. So we are really calling for a ban on these luminous panels which are strictly useless, and which continue to be lit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By turning off, we have both an ecological and economic impact: 41% of of the municipal electricity bill is linked to public lighting. A town like Mérignac (Gironde), which has 66,000 inhabitants, has won 170,000 euros by playing on public lighting.
Are new types of lighting, like LED, part of the solution against light pollution?
It is the whole paradox of this desire to take into account the fight against light pollution, and to replace it with a technical solution which ultimately does worse than better. You really have to reduce the nighttime lighting, by turning off the lights as much as possible, and possibly trying to find other solutions afterwards. But here, we tend to have communities that, especially not to turn off the lights, choose another option that has not demonstrated its effectiveness.