Lost in Light: A Short Film on Light Pollution

Via BoingBoing, a beautifully shot video by Sriram Murali showing the damage done by city lights.

Shot mostly in California, the movie shows how the view gets progressively better as you move away from the lights. Finding locations to shoot at every level of light pollution was a challenge and getting to the darkest skies with no light pollution was a journey in itself. Here’s why I think we should care more. The night skies remind us of our place in the Universe. Imagine if we lived under skies full of stars. That reminder we are a tiny part of this cosmos, the awe and a special connection with this remarkable world would make us much better beings – more thoughtful, inquisitive, empathetic, kind and caring. Imagine kids growing up passionate about astronomy looking for answers and how advanced humankind would be, how connected and caring we’d feel with one another, how noble and adventurous we’d be. How compassionate with fellow species on Earth and how one with Nature we’d feel.

This is an easy problem to fix. On the political front we could start by getting rid of billboards like the mayor of São Paulo did. On the technological front, there are a lot of lessons to learn from the lighting designers of the High Line in New York.

Leave a comment


  1. Light IS polluting our view. However, trees and plants need a period of light to thrive as they should. I always feel sorry for greenery that is lit during the night. Our treatment of nature is appalling.

    I am conflicted because I want my porch light on, just want all the other light to go away!

    I, too, miss the Milky Way. Where I live, I can go to places nearby and see the Milky Way, but I am afraid of those dark places!

  2. The night sky is beautiful and light pollution is a problem.

    But were we more “thoughtful, inquisitive, empathetic, kind and caring” prior to light pollution?

  3. I will never forget an unusual experience I had with the night sky. After Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi, we had no electric power for weeks. It was very hot, so we slept outside on the floor of the screen porch to take advantage of any breeze possible. It was impossibly, unbelievably dark. I was woken in the middle of the night by bright lights shining in my eyes. It was the stars.

    I lay there for a long time thinking and wondering about our ancestors and the experience they had of the night sky. No wonder it was a source for stories, myths, and legends. No wonder they were so fascinated with it and studied it so carefully.

    That night sky, untainted by manmade light, was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I never knew that the stars could be so startlingly bright.

  4. For a different twist on this, read “Nightfall” by Isaac Asimov.

    It’s about a planet with multiple suns, when night only falls every couple of thousand years. The unexpected sight of millions of stars in the dark night sky drives the population to insanity, which leads to the collapse of civilization.

    I wonder whether a major power outage in Los Angeles (or any other major city) would have a similar effect?

Comments are closed.