Author Archives: Tanner Jessel

Knoxville LED Project Harms Insects, Foundation of Life as We Know It

Today’s issue of “From the Desk of Mayor Rogero” notes the City’s work to replace all 30,000 street lights with LED fixtures is halfway done.

City of Knoxville contractor installs LED street light. Photo: City of Knoxville.

Unfortunately, the LED project has serious negative impacts that might have been identified and addressed had community input been earnestly sought (zero public meetings, dismal public outreach).

The City’s response to concerns raised as the lights began going up is “too late.”  It’s an easy answer if you minimize the importance of public participation in decisions carrying lasting consequences.

Council already voted for the street lights; half of them are already installed. So I am asking you to take two steps that could make a difference now:

  1. Please ask the Mayor for 20 “wildlife sensitive” LED street lights for Sharp’s Ridge Memorial Drive. The color output of these lights is akin to Knoxville’s existing sodium vapor lights, and since Sharp’s Ridge Memorial Park is closed from dusk to dawn, criticism of luminous output from “wildlife sensitive” lights is not a legitimate concern.
  2. Please be aware of the detailed information below illustrating why ask #1 is so important. While Knoxville may be locked in to Mayor Rogero’s selection of LED fixtures for the next ten years, the public should be aware there are alternatives minimizing the negative impacts of LED street lighting on native wildlife populations, particularly insects and birds.

Here’s why I’m bothering to write– a recent headline in the national news that “Massive insect decline could have ‘catastrophic’ environmental impact”

While journalists often favor sensational headlines, scientists are raising alarm too, calling the problem of insect declines “hyperalarming” and “gravely sobering.”At the going rate (2.5 percent biomass loss per year), scientists say 40 percent of insect species may go extinct over the next few decades.

In the words of an entomologist, “No insects equals no food,” and no food means “no people.”

Insects feed a lot of animals– including people.  Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, insects pollinate crops that produce more than one third of the world’s food supply. Insect pollinate three quarters of all the world’s flowering plants.

Scientists suspect light pollution in cities plays a role in declines“Scientists have now discovered that regions that have experienced a sharp decline in flying insects also have high levels of light pollution.”

Science says artificial light at night “has strong potential to negatively impact rates of insect survival by interfering with reproduction, communication, and fragmenting insect populations.”

“Artificial light may be devastating populations of insects, including species that provide crucial support for human agricultural systems,” according to a study published in the Annals of Applied Biology in June 2018.

If you’ve ever seen insects swarming around a porch light– you know the big effect artificial light can have on insects. 

Many insects are drawn to light, the proverbial “moth to a flame,” and become “trapped” in the light where they are eaten by predators or simply die of exhaustion.

Crucially, about half of the world’s insects are nocturnal. “As such, they depend on darkness and natural light from the moon and stars for orientation and movement or to escape from predators, and to go about their nightly tasks of seeking food and reproducing,” Maja Grubisic, who led the latest study, said in a statement (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/fb-lpa061918.php) . “An artificially lit night disturbs this natural behavior — and has a negative impact on their chances of survival”.

What does Knoxville’s LED streetlight project have to do with insects?

High Pressure Sodium (left) and new “cool white” LED on Broadway in Knoxville.

Both humans and insects are negatively affected by the “color temperature” of lights (recall the difference between the “warm orange” glow of a bonfire and the “cool white” of a florescent light).

Knoxville’s existing lights are largely sodium vapor lights– the “color temperature” of which is more akin to light emitted by the warm glow of a fire than the cool white light of a florescent bulb.

 

Knoxville’s new LED street lights have a significantly higher “color temperature”– casting much more “white” light than the old sodium vapor lights.

Current science says animals and people are more sensitive to higher color temperature lights (again, “high” color temperature means more “blue” and “white” light.)  “Cool” blue light is known to have greater negative affects on insects, while “warm,” more orange light is known to have less negative affects.

The best available science says Knoxville should use the lowest color temperature lights possible (“warmest” perceived color) while still achieving the light’s intended function.

Lower color temperature lights are in fact *available* to the City; the City simply took the manufacturer’s word the lights were “for coastal areas.”

I have been in communication with a leading U.S. scientist on light pollution and its impact on wildlife.  He assured me– and even wrote a blog post about Knoxville’s situation– that warm color temperature light is better for insects, even in non-coastal areas.

I have forwarded this information to the Office of Sustainability and reached out to Council members in districts with the most ecologically sensitive areas already.

Despite the insect decline crisis, despite the impacts of “cooler” color temperature lights to wildlife and people, the City’s position is it’s too late to change anything.

20 street lights on Sharp’s Ridge Memorial Drive

I submit to you it’s not “too late” to do something about the problem with Knoxville’s 30,000 new LED street lights: just twenty low color temperature “wildlife sensitive” lights (already available from the manufacturer Knoxville contracted with for the project could be installed at the most environmentally sensitive location in the City (Sharp’s Ridge Memorial Drive).

 

I have also proposed lower color temperature lights be used on residential streets, as has been done in Washington, D.C.

Washington  D.C. LED Street Lighting Plan

Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability argues the new lights fit the American Medical Association’s and International Dark Sky Association’s recommendations.

That’s true– the new lights fit the *minimum* recommendation from both groups.Yet, the International Dark Sky Association also posted in July 2018 concerning the “Ecological Armageddon” of insect declines: https://www.darksky.org/drastic-insect-decline-linked-to-artificial-light/.Why is Knoxville doing the “bare minimum,” when the foundation of our food security– healthy insect populations— are at risk?

We can do better in Knoxville.

I get that Knoxville isn’t the “leading edge” in the nation, but we are home to Tennessee’s land-grant institution. Maybe we can’t do all 30,000 at the lower color temperature, but we can surely do enough to make a difference.

Please, lend your voice in asking the Mayor to change course on the street lights.

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Non-Coastal Wildlife Affected by “Blue Rich” LED Street Lights

Erin,

Thank you for looking the information over.

I am in communication with Dr. Travis Longcore, the expert who authored the NPS report I sent last night. He suggested I pass along the attached document available online at <http://www.urbanwildlands.org/Resources/2018LongcoreLEDProfReview.pdf>, and that I emphasize LED light’s impact on insects as a worthwhile consideration.

I pointed out scientists face a communication challenge in conveying to manufacturers, vendors, and policy makers that "amber" LED is not just for coastal areas. He agreed, and plans to write a follow up on his research blog to better convey the issue.

Personally, I can’t emphasize enough that global insect declines is a frigthening prospect. Apparently, LED light acts as a "magnet" that can effect localized extinctions. Scientists called a new study detailing massive insect decline "hyperalarming" in an October, 2018 Washington Post report: https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2018/10/15/hyperalarming-study-shows-massive-insect-loss/

Below is an image from the paper in LED Professional magazine that Dr. Longcore urged me to share with you. You can see from the figure, 3000 K is "middle ground" of ecological impacts.

Even 2700 K would be better, according to the paper, at reducing impacts to insects. The paper concludes, "[w]ith amber and filtered products on the market, low color temperatures ≤2200 K are feasible and desirable to minimize adverse impacts."

I know safety and engineering standards are important. However, I would have to be convinced 2200 – 2700 range would adversely impact safety, especially on "local" residential streets in Knoxville’s major road plan.

Consider: Phoenix is installing 2700 K, and Washington D.C. is installing 2700 K on residential streets (with 3000 K max). Davis California is using 2700 K, too, in park and greenbelt areas (please note the "Analysis" section of the linked report: http://volt.org/lessons-learned-davis-ca-led-streetlight-retrofit/).

The "Gold Standard" is Sherbrooke, Quebec, which chose 2200 K LED for all its outdoor lighting (it is near an observatory). There are of course Coastal areas using 2700 K: Nantucket Island, Fort Lake, Florida, and others.

Please note the image below showing the "mixed" approach from Washington D.C. for arterial (3000 K) versus residential (2700 K) streets.

I can appreciate I-40, Magnolia Ave, Cherry Street, Washington Ave might need 3000 K lights, to promote true color perception, but I feel the smaller residential streets could benefit from the lower K lights. Referencing our road plan’s distinctions (https://archive.knoxmpc.org/zoning/Major_Road_Plan.pdf) could tie the whole thing to zoning.

I am not entirely sure why I am sharing any of this, by the way– I suppose I like the question "why not" more than I like the answer "no." I do hope you are able to use the information to effect some changes, even at this late stage in your project.

Best,

Tanner

On Thu, Jan 31, 2019 at 3:33 PM Erin Gill <egill> wrote:

Thanks for this information.

From: Tanner Jessel [mailto:mountainsol]
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 7:54 PM
To: Erin Gill
Subject: Non-Coastal Wildlife Affected by "Blue Rich" LED Street Lights

Erin,

I have gathered some new information from my reading on the topic which I hope might allow you to justify immediately adding "wildlife sensitive" lights to your LED Street Light project for important natural areas– particularly the 20 street lights at Sharp’s Ridge Memorial Park.

Please have a look- I highlighted the key points in bold.

While it’s true some species are more affected than others, the correct answer concerning LED lighting is "all types" of animals are affected.

You are of course correct to question what species might be impacted in Knoxville: a 2017 report from the National Park Service advises "Park managers should first inventory their resources and determine if and where sensitive species or habitats exist."

Sharp’s Ridge is undoubtedly one such "sensitive" habitat, as it is the highest point in Knoxville and its elevation and wooded nature combined make it important to nocturnal migratory birds. Further, it has a predominantly east-west orientation that intersects north-south migrating bird populations.

Moreover, Sharp’s Ridge hosts a dense array of large communication towers. Bright lights at the base of communications towers can draw birds toward the towers, leading to death by impact with either the towers or their guy wires.

As far the ecological impact of 3000 K, please note this paper, "LED lighting increases the ecological impact of light pollution irrespective of color temperature" in Ecological Applications 24:1561–1568 by Pawson, S. M., and M. K.-F. Bader in 2014.

Please also note the 2018 paper by Dr. Travis Longcore and others stating "filtered yellow‐green and amber LEDs are predicted to have lower effects on wildlife than high pressure sodium lamps, while blue‐rich lighting (e.g., K ≥ 2200) would have greater effects." To repeat: anything over 2200 Kelvin has *greater* impacts than existing high pressure sodium lamps.

The optimal scenario for Sharp’s Ridge would in fact be "zero" street lights

2018LongcoreLEDProfReview.pdf

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https://zlpheweb003.phe.fs.fed.us/pnw_dev1/tools/interactive-map-showing-moss-based-distribution-22-elements-portland-or
https://zlpheweb003.phe.fs.fed.us/pnw_dev1/tools/fuel-characteristics-classification-systemforest-vegetation-simulator-postprocessor
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https://zlpheweb003.phe.fs.fed.us/pnw_dev1/tools/center-forest-provenance-data
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Jessel-ORISE-Fellowship-Closeout.xlsx

“Not yet Submitted for Review”

Hi Tiffany,

EMDS 5.0 and beyond is a chapter in the book cited here:

https://zlpheweb003.phe.fs.fed.us/pnw_dev1/tools/ecosystem-management-decision-support-emds-system

It is in TreeSearch as TreeSearch ID 69164.

However, it is listed as “Not yet Submitted for Review” and therefore is not available to list as a related publication.

I think that 69157, 69161, and 69157 are also part of the same book, and also have the same status, “Not yet Submitted for Review.”

Just thought I would mention it since I noticed it.

-Tanner

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Communicating Science Tools via Resource Cataloguing, Description Skills

For my last two weeks at PNW, I have been working on revising the “Tools” Catalog. Often, scientists provide a very high-level overview of their tool, what it does, and how it works. PNW came up with a template for describing each tool. The Communications and Applications group pores over the original material to explain the key messages in the research product: what is it? How can it be used? I’ve been enjoying the research needed to evaluate what the tool does, how it can be used, and the linkages. I think my efforts have made a major contribution to ability to understand the resources made available by PNW scientists – major example below.

Compare to original:

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PNW Recent Publications Instructable

From: Jessel, Tanner – FS
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 3:54 PM
To: Mazza, Rhonda L -FS < >
Subject: RE: simple "recent publications" template

Hi Rhonda,

I re-did this quarter’s recent publications example to match the “First Order” taxonomy terms (rather than the second order that TreeSearch XML gives us), see attached.

I finished the instructional on how to get to a finished “Recent Publications” product:

https://ems-team.usda.gov/sites/fs-rd-pnwcap/QuarterlyPubUpdate/Home.aspx

I did come across a weird thing where the MAF Form you gave me did not have all the “National Taxonomy” 2nd order sub-headings that I found in TreeSearch.

For whoever does this to “look up” the First Order taxonomy terms from the Second Order terms, I added a sub-page in the wiki to “look up” the headings within the wiki (can be changed later):

https://ems-team.usda.gov/sites/fs-rd-pnwcap/QuarterlyPubUpdate/National%20Taxonomy%20Lookup%20Table.aspx

-Tanner

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Recent-Publications-Update-Instructions-v02.docx

Recent Publications E-mail Mockup

Hi Rhonda,

Template revisions are as below:

1. revised mock up images

a. shorter demo header image

b. changed name from “Publications Update” to “Recent Publications”

c. removed PNW logo from footer

d. added white USDA logo to footer

2. added text

a. added citations for the previous quarter from treesearch

b. selected topic headings from the available national taxonomy options

3. Removed in-line image

Note that the “lorem ipsum” text still needs replaceing.

Hope this works to illustrate.

Note the “C” in publications has feet where I “hid” the sheep on the hill; I didn’t bother with editing them out since this is just to illustrate.

-Tanner

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PNW Publications Update Template

Hi Rhonda,

Here is what I am thinking when talking about a template that can be re-used again and again; see attachment “pnw-quarterly-pub-update-template.oft”. It opens up in Outlook.

I just used a stock blog post header with Canva and stretched it to match existing dimensions from the USDA Rural Development Template. I also modified the footer with a PNW and USFS logo.

Anything here can be changed, this is just to illustrate the idea. When finished with changes, it’d just take “Save As” an Office Template when you are done by selecting “save as type.” Then when you are ready to use it you just click the template.

I’ll work on the less interesting part about how to copy and paste the citations the rest of the day and have a goal of being done Monday afternoon.

-Tanner

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PNW EFR Website and database creation

From: Jessel, Tanner – FS
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2017 5:32 PM
To: Youngblood, Anthony – FS < >; Burks, Matthew C -FS < >
Cc: Wilson, Todd – FS <twilson@fs.fed.us>
Subject: RE: PNW EFR Website and database creation

Hi Anthony,

I’m glad you pointed out the RNA site – I agree it is a good model. A less obvious feature buried in that site is an interactive map of all the NFS research natural areas available to scientists:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?t=h&msa=0&z=6&source=embed&ie=UTF8&mid=1P2E6FokQN4bYW8FvLqHr2ypmstk&ll=45.60095374529163%2C-120.3932115

Just a wild guess here as I don’t work on it – but could this be a useful feature for the Science Support Network on SharePoint? Perhaps a small database of research sites and opportunities in an Access Web App might be useful? I’m kind of getting the idea of a “matchmaking service” for PNW researchers and available research sites. I’m attaching a spreadsheet I created really quickly with the data from the OSU site for the locations specific to the forest service ( perhaps for no reason other than the RNA sites and the map interest me, and I want to have a handy reference back to it). Some ideas to expand the potential utility of a hypothetical “matchmaking” database might be to include other publications in TreeSearch done at the specific RNAs, and maybe the species available to study at the site. I’m not sure what that would end up looking like, but the idea interests me.

For the other part, I think you’ll be pleased to learn that Tiffany has built up a section for Experimental Forests and Ranges on the upcoming Drupal Site, and it is indeed modelled after RMRS:

https://zlpheweb003.phe.fs.fed.us/pnw_dev1/page/experimental-forests-and-ranges

Matt, the example content linked at http://www.fsl.orst.edu/chef/index.htm would make great content for an ESRI “Story Map” for our (ten?) experimental forests and ranges – the linked page http://www.fsl.orst.edu/chef/about2nd.htm really lends itself well to that medium.

All of the EF&R have really fascinating histories and research legacies that make for good stories.

-Tanner

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PNW-Research-Natural-Areas.xlsx