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The environmental impacts of artificial light at night have been a rapidly growing field of global change science in recent years. Yet light pollution has not achieved parity with other global change phenomena in the level of concern and interest it receives from the scientific community, government and non-governmental organisations. This is despite the globally widespread, expanding and changing nature of night-time lighting; and the immediacy, severity and phylogenetic breath of its impacts. In this opinion piece, we evidence ten reasons why artificial light at night should be a focus for global change research in the 21st century. Our reasons extend beyond those concerned principally with the environment, to also include impacts on human health, culture and biodiversity conservation more generally. We conclude that the growing use of night-time lighting will continue to raise numerous ecological, human health and cultural issues, but that opportunities exist to mitigate its impacts by combining novel technologies with sound scientific evidence. The potential gains from appropriate management extend far beyond those for the environment, indeed it may play a key role in transitioning towards a more sustainable society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-882
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number3
Early online date10 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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