We Need Darker Nights

Paul Bogard argues against light pollution
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2012 12:54 PM CST
The Squaw Peak Mountains are seen behind the illuminated Phoenix skyline in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Matt York, FILE)

(Newser) – Tonight is the longest night of the year, and author Paul Bogard makes a plea in the Los Angeles Times: Let it be the start of a push toward darker ones. Light pollution is so prevalent in the US that those in their 30s might be the last generation to know "truly dark nights," he writes. It's not just a problem for poets and painters—the health effects are real, and they're only going to get worse given that our nights keep getting brighter.

"It doesn't have to be this way," he writes. "Light pollution is readily within our ability to solve, using new lighting technologies and shielding existing lights." LED streetlamps can reduce wasted light, and cities also can simply turn off some of their public lights after midnight. Solutions are possible, "but we will never truly address the problem of light pollution until we become aware of the irreplaceable value and beauty of the darkness we are losing." The winter solstice is a good place to start. Read his full column here. (Read more nocturnal darkness stories.)

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