An ardent opponent of light pollution chronicles how the darkness of night is disappearing around much of the world, why that matters, and what can and should be done about it.
Bogard (Creative Nonfiction/James Madison Univ.) travels around the world to its brightest and darkest places, looking up at the night sky. This book can be seen as a companion piece to the anthology Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark (2008), in which the author gathered 29 individual voices on the subject; here, the voice is his own but with generous quotes from scientists and activists whom he has sought out in his travels. Among the places he visited are not only the cities of Las Vegas, Paris, Florence and New York, but also Walden Pond, small towns and remote places such as Death Valley, Chaco Canyon, the Canary Islands and the Isle of Sark. Bogard fondly and movingly remembers times when night was really dark, but he fears that such experiences will be unknown to most of humanity. The loss, as he explains, is not merely an aesthetic or even a spiritual one; artificial lighting may be having serious impacts on our health and on the environment. The author talked to researchers who see a link between lighting and cancer and to naturalists who note the impact of artificial outdoor lighting on other species, such as birds, bats and bees. The efforts of the National Park Service to set up dark-sky preserves gives Bogard reason for optimism, and his conversations with outdoor lighting experts indicate that feasible energy-reducing approaches are available. What’s needed is awareness, which the author provides in an appealing, reader-friendly way.
An engaging blend of personal story, hard science and a bit of history.