Toronto needs to illuminate its buildings at night. We don’t think so!
July 9th 2012
A recent article in The Toronto Star by Shawn Micallef stated that Toronto needs to better illuminate its buildings at night. http://www.thestar.com/living/article/1221585–toronto-needs-to-light-up-its-buildings-at-night
Obviously, we were quite dismayed to read this, and invite Shawn to come out and patrol with us during migration to see exactly the kind of impact his suggestion has on migrating birds. We did respond to the article, and hope he will read it:
Shawn Micallef’s recent column encouraging Toronto “to light up its buildings at night” strikes us, ironically perhaps, as unenlightened thinking. Setting aside the numerous advantages to reducing light levels, including energy and CO2 reductions and a decrease in the number of night-migrating birds hitting lit buildings, can we not enjoy Toronto’s architectural marvels without lighting them up like Christmas trees? Does our
city really want to resemble Dubai in its obscene demonstrations of wealth? Or would we rather be the friendly, welcoming city we are, appealing to architectural admirers and nature lovers alike?
Volunteers with the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) do pre-dawn patrols of Toronto’s Financial District during spring and fall bird migration searching for birds who have collided with the lit towers. The rescuers’ appreciation of the office towers are much greater when the lights are out. Then Mother Nature, much more subtle in her approach, emerges in all her glory, a full moon rising up behind a tall building, luminous, surreal. The volunteers tilt their heads back and see the slightest twinkle of stars. They listen with all their might and they can hear
the distant chirps and peeps of songbirds performing their ancient ritual of nocturnal migration, their silhouettes just visible against the brightness of the moon. With the lights out, songbirds – those delightful singers who consume insects, pollinate plants and disperse valuable seeds – can continue on their journey unimpeded by confusing illumination that less-enlightened cities have to offer.
Quite obviously, more lit structures at night we DON’T need. If you agree, why not write to Shawn Micallef and tell him this?