Hey, turn off the pollution

Light pollution affecting Victoria more than we think, says astronomy group and others, and cruise ships add to the trouble

International Astronomy Day is this Saturday, April 28, and celebrations abound in Victoria. But it’s also a time of awareness, say the experts.

Hey, turn off the pollution

Stargazers will be excited to hear that International Astronomy Day is this Saturday, April 28, and celebrations abound in Victoria. But it’s also a time of awareness, say the experts.

Your friends at the Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada say, on the heels of Earth Week, it’s important to think about how light pollution plays into our habitat.

“Light pollution is noticeable at night when it permeates the nocturnal environment, but its effects are felt around the clock,” says Lauri Roche, president of the Victoria RASC.  “Light pollution is the essence of waste, and it does much more than reduce the visibility of stars — artificial light at night disrupts our circadian system that keeps us healthy and helps us resist cancer, infection and disease. The World Health Organization lists ‘light at night’ as a probable carcinogen.”

Roche also says light pollution prevents chemical changes in the air at night that breakdown chemical pollutants, and that insects attracted by bright light at night become too exhausted to feed or reproduce, ultimately affecting other plants and animals who rely on them as a food source.

To learn more about Saturday’s activities at UVic’s Bob Wright Centre (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) or about how you can reduce light pollution, visit victoria.rasc.ca.

Time to make the tourists pay?

Speaking of pollution, congrats to the cruise ship Crystal Symphony, owned by Crystal Cruises of L.A., who is winner of the “Individual Ship” category at the new Dirty Air Cruise-Ship of the Year Awards, hosted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association.

Winners were chosen from the data readings taken from the sulphur dioxide (SO2) monitoring station installed near Victoria’s harbour for the 2011 season. Winners of the one-­hour “Team Category” are Carnival’s Holland America’s Amsterdam, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Infinity and Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas for their joint emissions in June.

This is the first year the association offered these awards, and hopes it is also the last. M

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