Let there be (cosmic) light

Joshua Tree National Park (Photo Ross Manges)

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Eric Betz, editor for Astronomy magazine, provides a timely synopsis of the perils of urban light pollution. As the world becomes more and more urbanized, it’s a serious issue that cities will have to contend with, not only to minimize wasteful energy use and costs, but also to minimize its detrimental biological effects on humans and other non-human animals. Creating a better night environment for people, therefore, depends on the quality of light – not the quantity. 

More importantly, however, is the fact that light pollution severs our connection with the cosmos. It may seem like a petty concern, but allowing the stars to once again become clearly visible can have a profound, yet subtle, psychological effect: it provides people with a broader perspective of our personal and planetary connection to the Universe and our fragile place within it.