Satellite data has been used to show that the increasing uptake of LED lighting around the world is having some perverse effects on energy consumption and light pollution.
The international study published in Science Advances found that the central aim of the “lighting revolution” - decreased energy consumption – could be undermined by increased use in response to lowered cost of light.
The study used the first-ever calibrated satellite radiometer designed for night lights to show that from 2012 to 2016, Earth’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by 2.2% per year, with a total radiance growth of 1.8% per year.
Continuously lit areas brightened at a rate of 2.2% per year.
Large differences in national growth rates were observed, with lighting remaining stable or decreasing in only a few countries.
The study warned that these trends are “not consistent with global scale energy reductions but rather indicate increased light pollution, with corresponding negative consequences for flora, fauna, and human well-being”.