Video: A Need for the Dark

Candice Gaukel Andrews July 7, 2011 3

Each spring and fall, about five million birds (from 250 species) migrate through Chicago. They’re often attracted by building lights and lighted glass areas—with fatal results.

We humans have long feared the dark. That’s where scary monsters hide and criminals lurk. So that’s why, for most of our history on the planet, we’ve been trying to dominate the night by filling it with light.

In many cases, illuminating our nights has worked. Crime often decreases by a significant percent, and the perception of safety soars.

But our penchant for eradicating the darkness has had its costs, too. Thousands of hatching sea turtles on Florida’s coast die every year by becoming disoriented by Miami’s lights. And Field Museum of Natural History volunteers annually collect thousands of dead birds—victims of collisions with brightly lit buildings and confusion caused by artificial light—from Chicago’s city sidewalks.

That’s why Ian Cheney, a Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker, asked himself the simple question, “Why do we need the stars?” In his 2011 film, The City Dark, he sets out to explore the science of darkness and investigates the effects of light pollution on our health and on the health of the natural world.

So before turning on your big yard light tonight, watch the movie trailer below.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,




  1. C.G.A. July 12, 2011 at 9:30 am - Reply

    I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly, Carlyn! And, how can you “reach for the stars” if you’ve never seen them?

  2. Carlyn Kline July 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Among all the other disadvantages to interfering with the natural order of things is the loss of the sense of wonder when one can’t see the stars. I would think that if one had never seen them, it would be much easier to believe in one’s own importance; this usually is a detriment to everyone and everything else.

  3. Marie Furmanski July 8, 2011 at 6:41 am - Reply

    It’s a shame that in so many areas the stars have all but disappeared. Outdoor lighting is often overdone and just down right wasteful.

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