Thursday, March 30, 2023

Night Skies

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Nature, Wildlife, Sustainability, Global Change, Climate Change, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems

Ed Hessler

Dark skies are a profoundly threatened sensescape. This dramatic photograph from Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) shows why and where in the world dark skies are increasingly problematic. The brightness of an artifical night sky is the replacement.

For additional information, I recommend Ed Yong's "An Immense World" (Random House, 2022) if you are interested in this although the book is about a variety of sensescapes animals use to know and navigate their environments. Our fixation on sight as the way to know the world slowed research on how the rest of animal life knows their environment and how to behave in it. The last chapter deals specifically with threats to sound and light/dark scapes and their effects.

And see also, Adam Gopnik's review in The New Yorker (February 27, 2023) of "The Darkness Manifesto" (Scribner, 2023) by Swedish ecologist Johan Eklof. It is titled "Turn Off the Light: What's Lost When Darkness Becomes Endangered?" 

You can read it for free here unless you have run out of your limited free access for the month. That's my hand in the closing elevator door as it closes on me. it  is titled "Is Artificial Light Poisoning the Planet?"
Eklof studies bats and Gopnik begins with an observation he made about the presence/absence of bat colonies in church belfries. "Most churches had bat colonies back in the nineteen-eighties, and now most of them don't." Eklof's research points to light pollution. Gopnik quotes Eklof who noticed that "'District after district has installed modern floodlights to show the architecture it's proud of...'" Bats use more than sonar. They also have eyes and when they leave a dark belfry into bright light, they become confused. 
This is a reminder, one Yong discusses in his book that all senses available to an animal are used, often very cleverly, complicating the research into the sense world of animals.

In the APOD notes you will find a valuable link to the International Dark-Sky Association where you can find information on how bright our lighting at night can be dimmed.

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