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Light Pollution is disrupting the natural seasonal rhythms of plants and trees, which is making the pollen season longer, which can cause worse allergies.

Source: National Geographic/Youtube

Light Pollution, which is the disruptive or excessive presence of artificial light, is often overlooked. According to a recent study, city lights are disrupting the natural phenology of urban plants. This is changing when their buds open in the spring and when the leaves drop in the fall. The study found that nighttime lights are lengthening the growing season in cities, affecting allergies and even local economies. When the biological clock in plants shifts, there are implications for the economy, climate, public health, and ecology services.

For the study, researchers analyzed trees and shrubs at around 3,000 sites in cities across the United States to see how they responded under different lighting conditions over a five-year period.

Plants use the day-night cycle as a signal of seasonal change along with temperature, according to researchers. They found that artificial light advances the date that leaf buds broke in the spring by nine days compared to sites without nighttime lights. They also found that the change of color in leaves was delayed, on average, by nearly six days.

Longer growing seasons could allow farmers to be active for a longer period of time, but the change could also make plants more vulnerable to spring frost damage. It can also create a disconnect with other organisms like pollinators which are essential for many urban plants. A longer pollen season could create worse asthma or other breaking problems.

Urban lights are continuing to increase every year around the world, but many places are trying to reduce light Pollution. Artificial light Pollution has been shown to affect the composition of invertebrate communities, the foraging behavior of beech mice and shorebirds, and can even affect the reproductive development of birds.

If we get rid of unnecessary artificial lights it will also help to cut emissions. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) estimates that around a third of outdoor lighting in the US is “wasted.” It asserts that this wasted light is responsible for the release of 21m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

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