Lit up

The Sewanee sky is often dark enough to see the silver smoke of the Milky Way drifting above the treetops. On other nights:

athletic field lights in cloudsClouds are ignited by light from dozens of pole-mounted bulbs around athletic fields. The pulse and swirl of light from the wind-driven clouds obscures all else. We vault the sky with our own glow.

Twenty percent of the world’s electricity is used for artificial lighting. In most countries, night lights are getting brighter and more abundant.

At the athletic field, no-one was on the turf. The pole-bulb clusters blazed on, regardless.

Come spring, robins will gather under the lights, singing their day-songs.

3 thoughts on “Lit up

  1. John Salmond

    I know, David, you make the point that humans are not separate from nature (golfball in the mandala).

    The problem is rather that we think/act as if we were on our own, as if what we do needs to take no account of that part of nature which is not us, but on which we depend not only physically but also psychically.

    Humanity’s determination to cocoon itself from the rest of nature, and its growing expertise at doing so, which includes this banishing of the dark, is dis-integrating us, and becomes an exponential gyre of loss of contact with the parts of ourselves that are outside our skins, the parts that are in the extended web of life.

    In making the obvious, everyday, ‘no-brainer’ choice to use our powers to avoid tripping over in the dark, we lose the vision of the stars, which has been a powerful and nourishing part of our lives for aeons

    Now our stories are not about the gods, about powers outside us, but about ourselves, and we fancy that we can solve all problems by our own magic

    Although climate change is a potentially calamitous physical effect of our technological bubble, perhaps the root problem, the real calamity, is in our loss of our psychological roots, which in turn is sapping our ability to rouse to meet the physical danger. The prophetic Freud spoke of the death drive.

  2. Jim Markowich

    Is the athletic field part of the university? If so, can you instigate to get the lights turned off when the field is not in use? There should be some interest in saving on electricity costs, if reducing light pollution is not enough of an argument to change policy.


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