A team of scientists from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid is working on the “Cities at Night” project to create a map in color of the Earth at night with images taken by astronauts on the ISS. Precisely for this reason, it has found that Spain spends 950 million euro a year in street lighting, one of the largest spenders in Europe.
Again, our country is at the top of undeserving rankings, along with Italy, Ireland and Belgium. Street lighting is among the most expensive of the European Union. Nearly a billion euro of public funds go directly to the bulbs that keep lit the streets of the towns and main roads, namely, it takes almost a sixth of the annual European expenditure. Holland and Germany have a much lower spending and crime rates are no different from those in countries that squander on consumption.
The total expenditure in the EU amounts some 6,300 million euro per year which makes one suspect that energy efficiency measures in street lighting are far from being good.
Furthermore, Spain is also the first European country in the podium that generates most light pollution
The Light Pollution research group from the Department of Astrophysics and Atmospheric Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid has found that Spain is EU’s country with the most lit streets, as shown in the images taken from space by satellites and based as well on data from a report commissioned by the European Commission.
Spain holds the record in energy consumption with between 114 to118 kWh / year per capita, while France is 77 to 90 kWh / year or Germany from 43 to 48 kWh / year per inhabitant. In addition, the annual increase in the cost of street lighting is 4.7%, while the population increase is 0.7%.
Paradoxically, Spain is the most densely populated country in area built in the EU, so it should be less expensive to lit other countries with more dispersed population. In fact, in recent years, lighting levels increase in Spain was located in areas of new construction in areas such as Murcia-, and elsewhere in sparsely populated areas where light emission towards the sky has doubled or even tripled.
High levels of light pollution have recently been linked to cancer from chronic sleep disturbances. Light pollution also promotes air pollution due to the different chemical reaction driven by lamplight. Also well known is the modification in the night ecosystem with overpopulation of mosquitoes and other insects, and the disappearance of birds, firefly, turtles and other animals.
Too much light produces very negative effects on the ecosystem and our health.
Being a project born in a Spanish university, its promoters are seeking help through funding to continue. They do this through ‘Kickstarter’. The project has also relied on 17,000 volunteers who in only one month, have managed to classify all high definition photographic archive of the ISS (International Space Station). The map already has some 130,000 photographs classified, as well as between 700 and 1,000 geolocated images depending on the quality.
The project has been possible thanks to the collaboration of the Research Group of Extragalactic Astrophysics and Astronomical Instrumentation (Guaix) of the Complutense University and the CEGEP (College of General and Vocational Education) of Sherbook (Quebec, Canada) along with other universities.