Experts Warn Light Pollution Causing Premature Spring in Many Regions

Light PollutionCivilization—the sign of great Human progress—comes only with great perseverance. Apparently, though, it is also comes with many great risks that would have been difficult to anticipate early on. And sometimes these risks put the environment in jeopardy.

Sure, we are talking about pollution, here. Indeed, city scapes contribute the burning of fossil fuels and the spilling of waste into our water and our air. For decades we have started to learn about all of the many ways the burning of fossil fuels—in the name of progress—has effected the world around us.

But it turns out there is another kind of pollution that is effecting our environment in ways we could never have predicted. Kate Lewthwaite, the citizen science manager for The Woodland Trust, notes, “Analysis of Nature’s Calendar data suggests that increased urbanisation is continuing to put pressure on the natural world, in ways that we could not have foreseen.”

Nature’s Calendar, of course, is an initiative started by the conservation charity to collect data on our planet’s natural progress, and how it may be changing.

Lewthwaite adds, “As the seasons become less and less predictable, our native wildlife may struggle to keep up with fluctuations that affect habitats and food sources. Hopefully, this research will lead to new thinking on how to tackle such issues, and will help influence future development decisions.”

In addition, lead study author and professor Richard ffrench-Constant notes, “Our finding that the timing of bud burst of woodland tree species may be affected by light pollution suggests that smaller plants growing below the height of street lights are even more likely to be affected.”

ffrench-Constant also comments on their study of moths on these tree buds. He says, “The moths are continuously struggling to time the hatch of the eggs exactly at the time that buds on the tree burst, and then the caterpillars will have the juiciest, freshest, greenest leaves.”

And, as with all organisms in nature, the success of this caterpillar will also affect the success—or failure—of other organisms higher up on the food chain. For example, many bird species time the hatching of their eggs to correspond with the hatching of the caterpillars so their offspring will also have enough healthy food to eat.

Indeed, ffrench-Constant comments, “There’s a lot riding on the hatch of these caterpillars in the forest ecosystem.”

 

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