turn down the lights

Eric Scigliano discusses the effects of artificial light. In 1880 when the first town was lit up, witnesses reported:

“The strange, weird light, exceeded in power only by the sun, rendered the square as light as midday.”

“Men fell on their knees, groans were uttered at the sight, and many were dumb with amazement. We contemplated the new wonder of science as lightning brought down from the heavens.”

I’ve never thought of light as a pollutant before. I always thought of it as a natural part of life, but I was surprised to see the photomosaic of the earth and how much light we produce. Two-thirds of the world’s population can no longer see the milky way.


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  1. I bought the arguement about lights interupting the moths’ mating habits, but I’m having trouble believing that working a late shift can increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. The photo is cool.

    Comment by Jan Lynn on August 8, 2003 @ 5:50 am
  2. I spent my summers growing up on a farm in Wisconsin. The other 3 seasons in the city didn’t leave me dazzled by the nighttime sky. But those summers, WOW!

    My uncle had a telescope he’d set up frequently and we’d see the moon up close, planets slowly passing by, and countless stars. All this accompanied by crickets and cows mooing in the distance. Those were the days, I tell ya.

    Comment by Renee on August 8, 2003 @ 7:10 am
  3. Don’t go stargazing in Japan. I Utah, there are a lot of places where you can still see the stars pretty well — you just need to go up in the mountains or to a place in the middle of nowhere (both of which there are a lot in Utah).

    Comment by Cameron on August 8, 2003 @ 8:32 am
  4. In GreenValley Arizona, where my mom lives, there are city ordenances against light pollution. Like you, I was unaware of the amazing difference between a city with street lights and places such as GreenValley. The night sky is beautiful there, which is kinda funny since we all share the same view, pretty much.

    Comment by jason on August 11, 2003 @ 8:37 am

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