Light and the City

A new film explores the impact of urban light pollution on humans and the natural environment, and calls on designers and planners to revise the way our cities are lit.

"The City Dark" is a new film by Ian Cheney. This piece from Urban Omnibus looks at its theme and lessons.

"The most obvious implications of light pollution are to astronomers. The stronger the light pollution, the harder it is to see the universe beyond. But, as Cheney explores in the film, the consequences of our pervasive use of artificial light reach much further. Biologists who study habitat disruption are tracking how city lights disorient, and ultimately cause the death of, hatching sea turtles and migrating birds. Epidemiologists are investigating the hypothesis that night shift work, and the disruptions to circadian rhythms and melatonin production that come with it, is a carcinogen.

But light activates space, improves public safety and facilitates social interaction. Light is used as art, as celebration, as tribute. We equate light with progress and achievement. So what do we do when, as Cheney says, "though we might love light, we might need the dark"? That's where lighting designers, architects and planners can help. A darker city can come from, not just less light, but less wasteful light. Careful, thoughtful lighting design is economically and environmentally beneficial, and can help reconnect us to the majestic skies above."

Full Story: The City Dark

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