The Effects of Light Polution

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Blackout in Toronto affects over 55 million people

Our creation shows how heavily modern society leans on electricity, particularly lighting, and how too much light can have a horrible effect on nature. What would happen if there was no power? Our model replicates the effects of a power outage across a whole city during the night. The lights of the city disappear, and the visibility of the stars in the sky, shown by the small lights, brighten. It shows how without such heavy light pollution, the stars are visible and the city rests at a natural state. As humans, it is vital to be aware of our impact on the environment. Billions of dollars are spent on lighting, and data shows that wasted lighting in the US creates 38 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. By becoming aware of our impact on the earth, we can learn that even something as simple as electricity and artificial lighting can alter the natural environment in negative ways. Creating excessive amounts of light where it is not meant to be significantly disrupts not only our own circadian rhythm, or our natural sleep patterns, but it can also confuse wildlife. The normal behavior of many species can be altered in seriously impactful ways. This confusion creates problems such as habitat loss, issues with reproduction, and can even cause death for some animals like sea turtles or birds that are drawn to light. Our model also depicts a separate scenario where once the city lights go out, sea turtles appear to represent the benefits of reducing light pollution as a whole for endangered animals. It is important to recognize how our actions affect creatures that we aren’t able to see firsthand, and how something that may seem like a harmless necessity to us can be devastating to other species. Through our piece we want to spread awareness of the impacts of light pollution, and promote the reduction or conservation of light and energy to assist the rehabilitation of animals that are affected by it.

Our model is primarily made of cardboard, which we attribute to cardboard being the most abundant of the materials given and options available. The cardboard was effective in being easily cut, folded, and painted to represent the different components of our creation. The most apparent of our technology included is the lights as they are used as part of the visual presentation, but other essential hardware is the servo and hummingbird circuit board. The lights run through the back of the model’s base and up the night sky background and turn on once the city lights go out to represent how the sky becomes brighter without excess light pollution. The anterior servo is used to display the ocean and sea turtles once the harmful light is removed from the scene.

There are 5 main functions; the first 4 are to turn the lights on or off and move the ocean/turtle platform up or down. The fifth function, “key”, links each of the other function to a key press to execute the code.

Function “lights_on” → Sets tricolor LED’s to blue → Function “key” → LED’s will turn on Sets single LED’s to on Press “a” to run function Function “lights_off” → Sets all LED’s to off → Function “key” → LED’s will turn off Press “z” to run function Function “set_servo” → Sets servo to 180 degrees → Function “key” → platform will Press “s” to run function be lowered Function “set_servo2” → Sets servo to 50 degrees → Function “key” → platform will Press “d” to run function become visible

Something we could have done better was to make the buildings more visually pleasing and clean, since cardboard can be a challenging material to get a very clean cut with. Additionally, some of our ideas developed as we were building the model, so the houses had already been glued down to the base by the time the innovation to really let the light through holes had been explored. From this change, there arose the issue of making holes in the sections of cardboard directly under each house or building to brighten the city, which meant we had to take off each building to create the holes, and then re-glue them. We also wished we could have used a less messy tool to serve the same purpose as the hot glue, however we might not have been able to make the necessary changes to improve our project without an impermanent material.

Light Pollution Model