This science fiction short story visualizes three of the current biggest damaging effects of light pollution and places them in a dystopian alternative future:
- Physical and mental health issues from for example insomnia caused by excessive exposure to artificial light.
- Wild nightlife is depend on the natural cycle of day and night. Any artificial lighting could cause damage. Birds colliding with windows during the night is one of the biggest unnatural death causes in bird population.
- The loss of the stars. Percentage wise the majority of the people living in densely populated countries like the Netherlands have lost the ability to admire the stars at night. Children living in cities have never seen an actual unpolluted night sky.
When I moved from the rural area of Drenthe to Rotterdam for my study I noticed that I missed something. The impressive skyscrapers, urban lighting, and nighttime liveliness hid the one thing from me that I had taken for granted.
I realized that it meant much more to me than I initially had thought. Being able to see the stars makes you reflect on your own position within the world. 100 years ago you were able to see the Milkyway, something that inspired artists like Van Gogh, musical composers like Holst or writers like Shakespeare.
But as urbanization continues, with half of the world now living in cities, 75% have never experienced the wonders of a pristine night sky. How do you explain the importance of what they’ve lost to light pollution? How can you make them aware that light pollution is a concern on many fronts: health, wildlife, as well as our ability to view the stars?
The ‘Academie voor Stadsastronauten’ and the ‘Nacht van de Nacht’ inspired me to write a science fiction short story on how this problem might evolve into a dystopian world. What extremes could become a reality if this problem is left unaddressed? ‘Let us not forget about the light’ shares the story of Dora Varga, a migration worker. She recorded her final cry for help, a message to future generations, in the hope that it might convince them of the severity of the problem.