LED Streetlights Killing Insects Misleading Headline

The Misleading Headline

The Misleading Headline reads: LED streetlights kill off insect populations by half, study finds. Oh no! LED Streetlights are killing off half the population of insects in the world! This is important information. Get rid of LED streetlights immediately! Put back in the old bulbs. We must save the insects.

Why it is Misleading

You have to read past a plethora of advertisements and down to the seventeenth and eighteenth paragraph to determine why the headline is basically lying. The study was done on three locations, areas with LED streetlights, areas with old style streetlights, and areas with no streetlights at all.

I think you see where this going. The fifty percent drop-off in insect life is between the area with no lighting at all and LED streetlights. The drop-off comparison for old style lighting and no lights is forty-one percent.

The reason suspected for the much smaller drop-off between LED and old streetlights is also easy to figure out, the LEDs are brighter. The solution seems simple enough, tone down the brightness slightly and all is good.

The reality is that LED streetlights are not the problem at all. The problem is heavily lit areas tend to cut down on insect populations because they like dark areas to breed, just like most of the rest of us.

The Possible Harm

The particular problem with this misleading headline is that it suggests older streetlights are better for the environment than LED streetlights. Those who oppose the environmentally friendly agenda which includes LED streetlights, will pounce on this article as a way to discredit the movement.

Conclusion

Be skeptical. When I saw the headline, it immediately aroused my suspicions. I almost instantly thought the comparison might be between unlit streets and LED streetlights. The fifty percent sounded way too high to me. My skepticism proved correct.

Tom Liberman

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