Bring back the dark: How our overuse of artificial light is changing nighttime for the worse


You don’t know night. Not real night, the way it was experienced pre-electricity; what we lost when we developed the ability to light up the night sky.

That sounds obvious to someone living near Times Square or in Vegas, but those are only extremes in a phenomenon that touches nearly all of us: Two-thirds of the world’s population, and 99 percent of people living in the continental U.S. and Western Europe, no longer experience what we might call true night — one free from the glow of artificial lights.

I’ve been a City Kid my entire life. I still remember the night I was walking outside on my dad’s farm and couldn’t figure out why, with no light around, it was so bright outside – I could see my shadow. I looked up and literally gasped at the sight of the Milky Way – which I had never seen before.

  • Jeff

    Just a heads up: This article is on Salon, not Slate.

  • Moeskido

    Real night is hard to find, but it’s worth the effort.

  • bibulb

    Here in Houston, the day after Hurricane Ike when massive portions of the city were without power (for obvious reasons) for some time, you could step out at night and SEE STARS while remaining in the city.

    That combination was a new experience.