Monday, March 3, 2014

The City Dark

Astrophysicists discuss light pollution and bemoan our planet's increasing lack of darkness in this well-shot documentary. Featuring desert landscapes and brightly illuminated cityscapes, scientists count stars in Central Park although they have better luck finding them in the lovely painted ceiling of Grand Central Station. It's a sobering film, especially when discussing the plight of birds, turtles, and fireflies confused by the island of light surrounding urban centers.

An urban, nocturnal creature myself, I'm saddened by the poor turtles who can't find their way to the sea, but what would Times Square look like with its iconic signs darkened? What if we can't see the next planet-killing asteroid hurtling toward the Earth because the lights on Broadway are too bright? Do we just continue walking around buildings picking up the corpses of sparrows who crash into windows because they're attracted by fluorescent lighting? I don't know what the answer is. I like turtles, and I like being able to get Insomnia Cookies in Greenwich Village in the middle of the night.

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