The use of lights now deeply affects our earth’s living systems– from cities to suburbs, on land, ocean and sky– “light pollution” now effects many if not all living systems of the world.
The impacts of electric light on our living systems has been rapid since the innovation of electric lighting in the early 19th century. Since then, sleep patterns are distupted on the regular –in part due to the rapid shifts of our increasingly illuminated landscapes. Not only human life, but innumerous other species health have been impacted by this increase in global night-time lighting. While some humans stay up all night online, facing an illuminated screen that is hard to turn off, other species loose their way in migration patterns and in many cities, we can no longer see the stars.
Lights are wonderful come sundown when theres still a few things to do, but the increase of this tool has also prompted us to stay up far past what normal sleep cycles would be.
What created our obsession with being up all night? Is there a way to reconnect with the natural cycles we’ve evolved from?
As an ecopsychologist, there is a wealth of social, mental, and environmental change to explore in the question of light pollution. From our primal days of campfires to the infamous “earth at night” photo with world cities and continents etched in glowing silver, the illumination of the industrial world is both beautiful and challenging to our living systems as well as to the human psyche.
To help raise awareness, World Darkness Hour will happen this year on March 29th, millions in urban areas will join forces to imagine a planet with an authentic night. Perhaps this one hour of darkness will not take us back to the times before city street lights, but it is a start in recognizing and reconnecting to the natural cycles of our world.
Is our use of night-time illumination harming our psyches? Or could this phenomena just be a new transition on earth through life’s evolution?
Whatever the answer may be, transitions can be challenging; At 8:30pm on Saturday March 29th, along with millions of others, let’s celebrate the night.