Mark your calendars! This year, Audubon’s Lights Out community engagement event will be on Saturday, September 21. Join buildings and residents all over Portland in going dark from dusk till dawn to help raise awareness about the importance of dark skies.
A large body of research shows that light pollution has significant negative impacts on human health as well as birds, insects, amphibians, fish and wildlife. Most songbirds migrate at night using the stars to navigate—light pollution drowns out these natural cues, disorienting migrating birds and drawing them off course, where they may fall prey to a variety of hazards including window glass. Many major cities such are taking significant steps to address light pollution, including Portland. In May, City Council approved funding for the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to initiate a light pollution reduction scoping project. The Portland Dark Skies Initiative will develop recommendations for steps that the city can take to reduce light pollution—a move which will protect ecosystems and human health, preserve our night skies, and help us meet our ambitious Climate Action Goals.
Saturday, September 21, will be our fourth annual Lights Out Portland community event, a night when residential households and commercial buildings dim their lighting in order to raise awareness about the impact of light pollution on migrating birds, about wasted energy in the form of light thrown up into the sky, and about preserving our ability to see stars from our homes in the city. In past years, over 2,000 households and 18 of Portland’s iconic buildings have participated in the citywide effort to save energy, save birds, and see stars!
Portland Audubon has partnered with Lloyd EcoDistrict in the past to raise awareness about this critical environmental issue. We have worked together to host astral photographer and time-lapse filmmaker Harun Mehmedinović at Cinema 21, where he took us on an enchanting tour of North America’s darkest, and starriest, night skies from the comfort of the theater. His remixed images of the Milky Way over LA helped us to imagine the brightest of cities bedazzled with stars that hang there every night, if only we could draw back the curtain of light pollution. And he called us to action to protect what we have left of our night skies. Light pollution is one of the easiest forms of pollution to reverse. We encourage you to participate in Lights Out Portland this year by turning off your unnecessary overnight lighting and getting out somewhere to enjoy the stars!
We also encourage you to sign up to Take the Pledge to go Lights Out and help us protect dark skies year-round! Look for opportunities to reduce unnecessary overnight lighting at home. This is a simple way that you can help birds in your neighborhood, reduce light pollution, save money, and help raise awareness about this issue!
Contributed by: Mary Coolidge of Portland Audubon