The argument for turning off the lights at night

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However, getting people to make these changes may require them to change their relationship with the night.

Seymoure likes to joke that he decided to study light pollution because, unlike thorny issues like plastic pollution or climate change, the solution is simple. “In theory, tonight we couldn’t have any light pollution,” he said. It took him a while to realize how difficult it is to motivate people to take action.

Part of this may be due to the way people understand darkness. It is assumed that more light is better and safer because we do not have the night vision ability. But, counterintuitively, Seymoure says, a lot of light at night can actually reduce safety, creating shadows and reflections.

“We have this kind of built-in social idea that darkness equals evil and I think that really kisses us off,” said Eaves, who organized a mass online stargazing movement. Last year. She wants to uproot these conceptions by getting people to look upwards.

Covid lockdowns may have helped his mission. People “feel the urge to connect with nature more and especially those of us who are stuck in truly urban areas and cramped neighborhoods,” she says. “I think we’ve all felt this loss a lot over the last year and stargazing has been one way people have started to connect.” They got to see more too. A nationwide star tally run by the UK campaign charity CPRE (formerly known as Campaign to Protect Rural England) found a 10% decrease in severe light pollution in February 2021 compared to the same month last year.

Hartley hopes that a reimagining of humanity’s relationship to natural darkness will increase momentum in the fight to preserve it. “With everything else the planet is facing,” he says, “it’s just additional stress on the whole ecosystem that we could take care of immediately.”

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