About the Book:
In the bestselling tradition of Why We Sleep and The Sixth Extinction, an urgent and insightful look at the hidden impact of light pollution, and a passionate appeal to cherish natural darkness for the sake of the environment, our own well-being, and all life on earth.
How much light is too much light? Satellite pictures show our planet as a brightly glowing orb, and in our era of constant illumination, light pollution has become a major issue. The world’s flora and fauna have evolved to operate in the natural cycle of day and night. But in the last 150 years, we have extended our day—and in doing so have forced out the inhabitants of the night and disrupted the circadian rhythms necessary to sustain all living things, including ourselves.
In this persuasive, well-researched book, Swedish conservationist Johan Eklöf urges us to appreciate natural darkness, its creatures, and its unique benefits. Eklöf ponders the beauties of the night sky, traces the errant paths of light-drunk moths and the swift dives of keen-eyed owls, and shows us the bioluminescent creatures of the deepest oceans. As a devoted friend of the night, he writes passionately about the startling damage we inflict on ourselves and our fellow creatures simply by keeping the lights on.
The Darkness Manifesto depicts the domino effect of diminishing darkness: insects, dumbfounded by streetlamps, failing to reproduce; birds blinded and bewildered by artificial lights; and bats starving as they wait in vain for food insects that only come out in the dark of night. For humans, light-induced sleep disturbances impact our hormones and weight, and can contribute to mental health problems like chronic stress and depression. The streetlamps, floodlights, and neon signs of cities are altering entire ecosystems, and scientists are only just beginning to understand the long-term effects. The light bulb—long the symbol of progress and development—needs to be turned off.
Educational, eye-opening, and ultimately encouraging, The Darkness Manifesto outlines simple steps that we can take to benefit ourselves and the planet. In order to ensure a bright future, we must embrace the darkness.
About Brigitta McCarthy:
Living in Tahoe, especially during the winter, resonates with my childhood memories of growing up in Sweden. This winter, 2023, we were all immersed in both an awesome and humbling level of snow; snow that has been hanging freestyle off of our deck railing and took on the shape of a big white whale. The white walls created an isolation from the road and neighbors.
As an artist, a lot of my artwork is inspired by and involves the sculptural qualities of snow. This year, I was frequently interrupted and I had to put down the paintbrush and pick up a shovel. Skiing has been a reward for all the shoveling, not to mention the time with family, friends, and to collaborate with other artists. Esteban Villa and Jose Montoya (CSUS professors) opened the door for me to community art. As an immigrant, it has allowed me to be part of a vibrant society, teaching art projects in schools and painting murals with youth.
Why Brigitta Chose This Book:
In "The Darkness Manifesto'' the author Johan Eklof brings us on a global journey that even transcends into our universe.
While it feels easy to grasp the ways weather moves across our planet, I am amazed by how connected plates and land masses are from one end to the other. When you stand out in the aromatic Great Basin of Nevada, the basin is still stretching and affecting the land west and eastward all the way to Salt Lake City. The Rockies keep growing too! There is a constant pushing on the ground creating this movement and change. The book is a helpful interpretation of what meets the eye in the incredible land out West.
It also reminds us that natural light is vital for our well being and for all beings. The author wants us to become aware of the darkness, protect it, preserve it in our surroundings — and to learn about the importance of darkness for animals and plants. For example, changing natural light patterns with electricity, especially white light, can be disruptive for insects, birds, fish, and animals. Ultimately, nocturnal animals get their dating messed up when we interfere with natural light! As I have learned this, I try to shield the light, particularly at migration time.
There are benefits to being more aware of natural light in our own lives as well. If you can wait to turn on your lights in the evening, the rods in your eyes can acclimate to dusk’s delicate colors to experience the beauty. Not to mention all of the hormonal benefits! I would imagine that backpackers agree with the benefit of natural light — just spend some time outdoors at dusk to have that realization yourself.