Words and images: Chris Carruth
New Yorkers and other major metropolitan dwellers sing a similar sad refrain about a lack of visible stars and upon entering the vast open spaces available to us in the “West” speak in amazement at their sheer number, brightness and beauty. The truth is these city dwellers live in heavily polluted areas.
To be sure, light pollution is a type of pollution of the more benign variety. No one gets cancer from it; it doesn’t cause people to call in sick to work. There is no easily discernible loss to health or GDP tied to it. Yet, the ominously named International Dark-Sky Association, an authority on light pollution and the night sky, asserts that if we cut nighttime energy usage via energy efficient, shielded lighting fixtures we’ll not only increase the visibility of the night sky, but reduce energy costs, preserve nocturnal animal and insect ecosystems in urban areas, and safeguard scientific opportunities such as astronomy.