NDSU ESC Hosts Light Pollution Awareness Documentary for Earth Day

Monday, April 22nd, the Environmental Sustainability Club partnered with DarkSky International and Patrick Sommer to host a viewing of the documentary Saving The Dark by Sriram Murali. This documentary outlines the impacts that light pollution has in a variety of scopes including but not limited to human health, wildlife, and the night skies. Saving The Dark explores possibilities to combat light pollution in everyday life. 

DarkSky International is the world’s leading authority on light pollution, stemming from a small nonprofit based in Arizona. The DarkSky mission statement is outlined on the official website as “DarkSky works to restore the nighttime environment and protect communities and wildlife from light pollution.” The first success of DarkSky is that it was the first-ever dark sky legislation in 1958. The ultimate plan of DarkSky is to slow the growth of light pollution and work to reverse it. DarkSky has over 70 chapters worldwide catapulting the dark sky movement. DarkSky International partners with a variety of nonprofits, universities, businesses, and community groups to get their message across. Within these organizations and communities, 2,000+ volunteer advocates are using education and advocacy to protect the night sky locally around the world. The DarkSky official website displays 4 simple steps to get involved: Find a local chapter, become an advocate, study light pollution, and become a DarkSky member. 

The event began with an opening statement from the Environmental Sustainability Club’s president, Spencer Furniss. Furniss spoke on the ESC and their mission to educate NDSU students about sustainable habits and reducing NDSU’s environmental impact through volunteer activities and conservation rooted events. Following this Furniss introduced Patrick Sommer, an advocate for light pollution awareness. Sommer spoke on his own personal experience within the movement and began the documentary. The hour-long documentary included a wide range of aspects affected by light pollution. Examples of these are wildlife, such as birds, moths, and sea turtles, human health and sleep habits, and various plant life. Main effects on human health are outlined as increased risks of obesity, stress, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and sleep disorders. 

Sommer and DarkSky International are working to establish international dark sky places, DarkSky approved lighting, advances in responsible outdoor lighting, and light pollution education. Flagstaff Arizona is the world’s first international dark sky place and is the leading city in outdoor lighting policy, and enacted the world’s first lighting ordinance in 1958. Sommer and DarkSky are working to reach this standard worldwide. Light pollution, as Sommer described, is one of the only issues that as soon as change is made, the reverse effects are immediate, meaning that becoming a part of the movement and enacting change can be as simple as the flip of a switch. 

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