When Lights Conceal

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 30 2013 @ 8:35pm

dish_artificiallightmap

Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light, considers the quality of darkness as a diminishing natural resource. He speaks about the connection between artificial light and public safety:

Ironically, what has happened now is that we have so much light that we can no longer see. We’re blinded — sometimes literally, by the brightness and glare of our security lighting — but also metaphorically, which is to say that when we light everything up, there is really no reason to look over and notice something, and say, “Wow, that’s a weird thing.”

When everything is so brightly lit, why should we look? It’s light, so it’s safe, so we switch off. And, while no one is looking, we’ve actually made life easier for the bad guys. Some studies even show that criminals actually prefer well-lit areas. I had several policemen and security consultants tell me that criminals are as afraid of the dark as we are. They don’t want to go in the dark. The light makes them feel safe, just as it does us.

(Image: Maps of artificial night sky brightness by P. Cinzano, F. Falchi, and C. D. Elvidge)