Is Access to Darkness an Equality Issue?


“… many people have never experienced true darkness,” a report reads. The discussion is mainly about light pollution, and the body-burdens associated with 24 hour light exposure, which are on the rise:

It’s estimated that the amount of light in the night sky globally is increasing by around 6 per cent a year, but that statistic can be deceptive, according to Paul Bogard from James Madison University [author of The End of Night].

There is hope, however, from the marketplace: 

The Amsterdam-based company Tvilight is one of those firms leading the way in the practical roll-out of smart lighting technology. Tvilight manufactures street-based lighting systems that automatically respond to traffic and pedestrians. The idea is to create urban lighting systems that limit light pollution in suburban areas, with lights dimming or illuminating depending on the level of human and vehicular traffic detected.

I get the feeling, however, that access to darkness is going to become another equality issue: the wealthy in wealthy areas will get access to the diminishing resource of darkness based on their access to other resources (which, quite ironically, may have been earned through the bright lights of some other company) while the less than wealthy suffer light pollution. The capitalist logic is breath-taking: Sell them light and then sell them darkness! (this would work as a case lesson for students about resources and access to those resources, especially something as “given” as access to darkness … no doubt, college students have low access to darkness many campus locations)

1 thought on “Is Access to Darkness an Equality Issue?

  1. been finding my way into the “right to the city” networks and wonder if the idea/remembrances of common/public goods is (or could be) more than nostalgia? My father did a lot of work on questions of public access to water fronts (on lakes, rivers, oceans, etc) and there may be some parallels/prototypes to mine there for darkness and quiet and such. Also are there such things a ‘natural’ rhythms of sleep and such and are we being rewired for commercial purposes like changing clock-time to try and make some post work shopping happen in downtowns by suburban commuters or such? Are we being pushed into engineered/coded rates/rhythms that are just burning us out instead of extending/enabling us?


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