How much light is too much light? The Darkness Manifesto urges us to cherish natural darkness for the sake of the environment, our own wellbeing, and all life on earth.
The world's flora and fauna have evolved to operate in the natural cycle of day and night. But constant illumination has made light pollution a major issue. From space, our planet glows brightly, 24/7. By extending our day, we have forced out the inhabitants of the night and disrupted the circadian rhythms necessary to sustain all living things. Our cities' streetlamps and neon signs are altering entire ecosystems.
As a devoted friend of the night, Johan Eklöf encourages us to appreciate natural darkness, its creatures, and its unique benefits. He ponders the beauties of the night sky, traces the paths of light-drunk moths and the dives of keen-eyed owls, and shows us the bioluminescent creatures of the deep oceans. He writes passionately about the domino effect of damage we inflict by keeping the lights on: insects failing to reproduce; birds blinded and bewildered; bats starving as they wait in vain for insects that only come out in the dark. For humans, light-induced sleep disturbances impact our hormones and weight, and can contribute to mental health problems.
Eye-opening and ultimately encouraging, The Darkness Manifesto offers simple steps that can benefit ourselves and the planet. The light bulb – long the symbol of progress – needs to be turned off. To ensure a bright future, we must embrace the darkness.
Johan Eklöf, PhD, is a Swedish bat scientist and writer, most known for his work on microbat vision and more recently, light pollution. He lives in the west of Sweden, where he works as a conservationist and copywriter. Johan has studied bats for almost twenty years and now has his own consultancy company, hired by authorities, wind companies, municipalities, city planners and environmental organizations as an expert on bats, night ecology, and nature-friendly lighting.
Dr Elizabeth DeNoma is a literary translator from Scandinavian languages, as well as a developmental editor and publishing consultant specialising in international literature. In addition to The Darkness Manifesto, her recent translations include Jellyfish Age Backwards by Nicklas Brendborg and Winter Swimming by Susanna Søberg.