Some Missourians believe the state is in danger of losing an important natural resource. It’s something we only experience at night—-but not everywhere.
In many places it is never darkest before the dawn—because it’s never dark. Hundreds of thousands of Missourians live in places where they cannot see the night sky because of the amount of light in their neighborhoods.
The legislature is being asked to have the Department of Natural Resources convene a special commission to study the impact of light pollution on public health, energy consumption, tourism, natural resources, and wildlife. One supporter is James Roe of Wentzville, the head of the Alliance for Astronomy, who teaches a class in observing at St. Charles Community College. But he says he and his students cannot go outside and demonstrate anything there because of light pollution. “Most people in urban areas have never seen the Milky Way,” he says, “I had a jaw-dropping event with one of my classes. I had a woman come up to me after the classes and say ‘Would you show my daughter a star?'”
Another of those asking the legislature to ask DNR for the study says one researcher estimates there will not be a dark sky left in the nation by 2025 because so much energy is being used to illuminate a lot of things that don’t need to be lighted at night.
A spokesman for the International Dark Skies Association says people apparently seek darkness. He points to a Pennsylvania state park with a dark skies designation where attendance has increased 30 percent in three years.