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Why the World Needs Darkness

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Some may question why the world needs darkness. After all, we see light every day, so people don’t understand why we need it. In addition, light pollution is destroying the darkness that is so important to our lives. One reason darkness is necessary is so that nocturnal animals do not become endangered. Lastly, darkness is crucial to our personal well being in managing our internal instincts and sleeping patterns.
Light pollution is one of the easiest pollutants to eliminate; yet not many efforts have been made to solve it. Right now, all the artificial lights reflect upward, toward the sky. If scientists could engineer a new light that instead reduced the reflection, the problem of light pollution would be solved. Many significant places have severe light pollution. Europe, the United States, and Japan are all bright, glowing balls of light from space. Furthermore, squid fishermen use exceedingly bright lamps to lure their prey, squids. Their lights, from space, can be seen even brighter than the cities of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. Getting rid of light pollution will not only save energy, but will be beneficial to so many of the other things around us.
Animals are also greatly affected by severe amounts of light and not enough darkness. Light acts as a magnet to birds, causing them to circle around the glow numerous times. Consequently, some migrating birds will collide with the towers of light during the nighttime, especially the young ones who have never experienced migration before. A group of swans in England cannot tell when it is time to migrate anymore, so they put on fat rapidly, leaving for their migration site early. That poses a problem when the swans come back, as their nesting conditions may not be right. Other birds start to sing at unusual times because they depend on light to tell them when to sing. Additionally, insects start to cluster around streetlights, which attracts more of the common bats. The lesser known bats disappear because the common bats start to eat all their food. Nesting sea turtles are also finding fewer and fewer dark beaches to lay their babies. The hatchlings are supposed to crawl towards the sea horizon, but because of the simulated lights by the beach, they often get confused and go the wrong way. Overall, the non-natural lighting causes many animals to change their normal, biological behaviors.
Our own biological systems depend on the light. We haven gotten used to waking up and going back to sleep, depending on when light is present. This vital rhythm is very important to our internal clock. Scientists have been examining what would happen if we extended the day and shortened the night. At least one study shows a direct connection between higher rates of breast cancer and nighttime brightness.
Ultimately, human beings will benefit from getting rid of light pollution. People forget how beautiful the night sky and stars truly are because artificial lights overpower them. Even for all the advantages light gives us, we should not forget what is lost. Darkness is a significant part of life, something that we cannot live without.

Reference used:
Klinkenborg, V. Our Vanishing Night. November, 2008. National Geographic. May, 2009.

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yongli_58 said...
May 28, 2009 at 2:03 pm
Very interesting!
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