Time To (NOT) See The Light

According to an article published in the journal, Science Advances, 99% of European and North American populations “live” under light polluted conditions, which means that most of humanity rarely, if ever, actually sees the night skies the way nature had originally intended. We now have entire generations of folks who have never even seen the Milky Way galaxy.

Bright, manmade lighting turning night into day has far more serious implications than one might expect. If you’ll excuse the wordplay, let’s turn to two brilliant guys who’ll enlighten us.

According to U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Chris Elvidge…

“For several generations, people in large urban centers have had their view of the Milky Way blocked. This is an aesthetic loss, and perhaps a spiritual loss in terms of feeling a connection to the cosmos.”

University of California, Berkeley, Psychology Prof. Dacher Keltner concurs…

“The bright night sky and its stars has long been a profound source of awe and inspiration, which we know to stir creativity, generosity, good will and innovation. Losing a clear night sky will harm our capacity for wonder and put a dent in our spirit of common cause.”

Studies and experiments have corroborated what these learned men stated above. Our having a sense that we’re part of something larger really does humble us. In that state of mind, our behavior becomes more altruistic and sympathetic… and less narcissistic and barbaric.

It’d be a safe bet to say that calloused, hubristic, egomaniacs (such as Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan) have rarely, if ever, seen the real night sky.

My being an amateur astronomer, in my light polluted suburban region, I can attest to the fact that even with the aid of my 90mm refractor telescope, I can no longer see the subtle lighting of the Milky Way. That sight has been relegated to the realm of a fond boyhood memory.

We humans really need to experience those “Oh WOW”, goose bumps producing moments. If we cannot see what the real night sky has to offer, we could easily become more artificial than the artificial lighting, which is rapidly condemning us all to that nightmarish fate.

If we ever hope to “see the light” / hope to better ourselves, then we must not see too much light at night.