‘Lightening’ up our streets

The lecture on light pollution we had a few weeks ago got me thinking: could some of Singapore’s street lights be removed to lighten the impact of light pollution on our biodiversity?

One way this could be achieved is by closing parks at night, thereby removing the need of lighting at these places. These green spaces tend to house greater biodiversity compared to the more built-up housing estates, and since there is increasing evidence that many animals are affected by lighting at night, it would be a good choice to implement such an initiative.

During my visit to the Shinjuku National Garden in Tokyo last year, I realised that there wasn’t a single street lamp in the entire garden. The gates to the garden would close at 4pm (shortly before sunset in winter) and all visitors had to leave the compounds within the next half hour. Perhaps this system could be adopted in Singapore’s parks, such as in the Botanic gardens and Chinese garden, which are open at night as well. By only allowing visitors in the park during daylight hours, street lights need not be installed, minimizing the impact of artificial lighting on the area’s biodiversity, in addition to reducing our carbon footprint from unnecessary street lights.

However, some might argue that this would deprive citizens of green spaces to unwind in after a long day at school or work – which is essentially what the parks were built for. A way around this issue would be to have fixed opening hours for parks, say from 6am to 12am and switch off the street lights in the park when it is closed. This way, people can continue enjoying these green spaces after their daily activities and the ecological impact of light pollution on biodiversity can be lightened.

What do you think?