In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the POV series on PBS, ‘The City Dark’ will see its national broadcast premiere on July 5 at 10pm. POV features the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers and Ian Cheney is no exception.
The Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker Ian Cheney (King Corn, Big River) documents his journey to discover the surprising and alarming costs of light pollution and the disappearance of the night sky. From turtles and birds to human health and longevity, we are changing our relationship with the night sky. The question is asked: Do we need the dark?
“Either way, I don’t believe the story of artificial light is a black and white one, a story of good versus evil. Our efforts to curb bad lighting must include acknowledging that there is such a thing as good lighting. And that shouldn’t be hard: We can light our world, for security and navigation, for beauty and art, without ruining our night sky, harming ecosystems or disrupting circadian rhythms.
But to do so — to bring back the stars — requires a few shifts. First, we need to think of the night and the dark as part of the environment, a part of the wilderness that deserves our attention and preservation efforts. Second, we might need to allow simple design solutions — shielded lights, pointed downwards — and the energy savings that come with them to overcome ancient instincts telling us always to push for more light. And finally, crucially, we might simply need to look up more.”
I believe this is an excellent position to take on a complex problem. There are nuances to what is “good” and what is “bad,” but there are also definitive actions we can take to minimize the adverse effects.
What effects do you believe artificial light has on our health and the health of wildlife? Will you watch ‘The City Dark’ on July 5th?