National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson discusses light pollution

The veteran photographer spoke in Hendricks Chapel Tuesday about potentially harmful effects related to "vanishing nights."

Jim Richardson, National Geographic photographer since 1984, spoke to a full house at Hendrick's Chapel Tuesday night, to express his concern about light pollution through his lecture, “Our Vanishing Night: Light Pollution.”

Throughout the audiovisual presentation, Richardson explained that excessive light use in our society is potentially damaging it. He explained that light pollution impacts the life cycles of some animal species, may increase the chance of breast cancer and other diseases, and also may increase the amount of crime.

Photo: Gwendolyn Craig
Jim Richardson spoke about light pollution Tuesday at Hendricks Chapel as part of the University Lecture series.

Because of light pollution, Richardson said, 80 percent of children born today may not clearly see the Milky Way in our nighttime skies.

 “Photographers are citizens who concern about public interest first,” Richardson said.

He suggested that simply changing streetlights to direct the light along with turning off unnecessary lights can make a positive impact.

Maria Brown, a professor of practice at the School of Social Work and photography enthusiast, said Richardson’s piece in National Geographic about light pollution before the lecture made her concerned about the disruption to the natural life cycle of animals.

“I am sitting here and thinking about whether or not we can put a red light at our front porch without looking weird in our neighborhood, to try to reduce light pollution,” Brown said.

Also, Brown mentioned that light pollution has hindered her own ability to photograph stars at night

“The light around us is so bright,” she said. "We cannot get good exposure of the stars in the sky. It is very frustrating.”

Audience member Ron Murdock said he's considering changing the lights at the Casowasco Camp and Retreat Center in Moravia where he works in hopes that young campers will be able to better see the gorgeous summer night sky.

Jacob Hock, a high school student who is a member of the Coronat Scholarship Program, said he thought the lecture was really interesting. He had heard about light pollution before, but the lecture deepened his understanding and expanded his knowledge of the subject. He hoped that others might have the same revelation about light pollution's damaging effects.

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