Light Pollution: Looking at it in the Singaporean Context and the Challenges of Overcoming it
The Situation in Singapore
With the advent of fast, rapid growing economies, cities constantly redevelop themselves to attract foreign investors and tourists, often using night lighting to create a unique ambience. Singapore is no different. The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA)’s master-plan is to “give Singapore a unique nighttime ambience”; These aims, commonly shared by all city councils, gives rise to brightly lit skyscrapers and elaborate lighting plans in cities all over world. The picture on the left shows the extent of light pollution in the city.
Possible Environmental Effects of Light pollution
Singapore, a brightly lit cosmopolitan city, is also a stopover point for migratory birds from Siberia and other northern regions. The effects of light pollution on migratory bird populations in Singapore are inevitable, only that the extent of which is still unknown and can be researched upon in greater detail.
Possible Physiological Effects of Light pollution
The increasing ageing population in many developed nations around the world, including Singapore,means that city councils would also need to consider the lighting needs of the elderly in the near future. This is to cater to the decreased response time and sensitivity of the ageing eye when adjusting to different lighting levels (IDA Information Sheet 156, 1999). The ageing eye, coupled with poor lighting fixtures that cause glare, pose more risks for elderly drivers.
Challenges of Overcoming Light Pollution
- Misconceptions about Lighting and Crime Rates
Some of the challenges faced by city councils worldwide working to reduce the extent of light pollution included public misconceptions about lighting and its effects on safety. A common misconception that is held by business owners and residents in various countries was the effect of lighting on crime rates.
Contrary to popular belief, a study conducted by the US Department of Justice to the US Congress on the effect of lighting on crime levels indicated that the effects of the level of lighting on crime rate proved to be unknown. Lighting only makes people feel safer, and there was no justification that brighter lighting guaranteed their safety.
The business industry is another factor as it is important in countries’ economies as they create jobs for many people. While methods to attract business using billboards are used in many other cities like in Tucson, Arizona in the U.S. and as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore lacks these, which could prove to be an advantage as it is one less factor contributing to light pollution.
- To “create an unique night time identity”
The Esplanade area in Singapore is brightly lit at night; with the new integrated resorts, if lighting fixtures are not properly designed, this could result in more light pollution. However, Singapore's authorities are showing interest and are already implementing various anti-excessive lighting and anti-glare cum light pollution measures. It is indeed hoped that the use of more efficient lighting would help reduce light pollution in Singapore.