But now, when 8 of 10 children born in the United States will never know a sky dark enough for the Milky Way, I worry we are rapidly losing night’s natural darkness before realizing its worth.
This winter solstice, as we cheer the days’ gradual movement back toward light, let us also remember the irreplaceable value of darkness.2 All life evolved to the steady rhythm of bright days and dark nights.
1 At my family’s cabin on a Minnesota lake, I knew woods so dark that my hands disappeared before my eyes.
I knew night skies in which meteors left smoky trails across sugary spreads of stars.
by more than one point, then a third grader grades the essay, providing a score which is then doubled to compute the final composite score.
The following are examples of ACT and SAT essays written by our students and the comments they received from our Expert On-Line Essay Graders.But we will never truly address the problem of light pollution until we become aware of the irreplaceable value and beauty of the darkness we are losing.Write an essay in which you explain how Paul Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience that natural darkness should be preserved.Today, though, when we feel the closeness of nightfall, we reach quickly for a light switch.And too little darkness, meaning too much artificial light at night, spells trouble for all.3 Already the World Health Organization classifies working the night shift as a probable human carcinogen, and the American Medical Association has voiced its unanimous support for “light pollution reduction efforts and glare reduction efforts at both the national and state levels.” Our bodies need darkness to produce the hormone melatonin, which keeps certain cancers from developing, and our bodies need darkness for sleep.Even Paris, the famed “city of light,” which already turns off its monument lighting after 1 a.m., will this summer start to require its shops, offices and public buildings to turn off lights after 2 a.m.Though primarily designed to save energy, such reductions in light will also go far in addressing light pollution.Sleep disorders have been linked to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression, and recent research suggests one main cause of “short sleep” is “long light.” Whether we work at night or simply take our tablets, notebooks and smartphones to bed, there isn’t a place for this much artificial light in our lives.4 The rest of the world depends on darkness as well, including nocturnal and crepuscular species of birds, insects, mammals, fish and reptiles.Some examples are well known—the 400 species of birds that migrate at night in North America, the sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs—and some are not, such as the bats that save American farmers billions in pest control and the moths that pollinate 80% of the world’s flora. howwould Van Gogh have given the world his “Starry Night”?Ecological light pollution is like the bulldozer of the night, wrecking habitat and disrupting ecosystems several billion years in the making. .5 In today’s crowded, louder, more fast-paced world, night’s darkness can provide solitude, quiet and stillness, qualities increasingly in short supply. Who knows what this vision of the night sky might inspire in each of us, in our children or grandchildren?Simply put, without darkness, Earth’s ecology would collapse. Every religious tradition has considered darkness invaluable for a soulful life, and the chance to witness the universe has inspired artists, philosophers and everyday stargazers since time began. 6 Yet all over the world, our nights are growing brighter.