The loss of dark skies is so painful, astronomers coined a new term for it
Humanity is slowly losing access to the night sky, and astronomers have invented a new term to describe the pain associated with this loss: "noctalgia," meaning "sky grief."
Along with our propensity for polluting air and water and the massive amounts of carbon we're dumping into the atmosphere to trigger climate change, we have created another kind of pollution: light pollution.
The loss of the night sky has several tangible and cultural impacts. We are losing a rich tradition of human cultural knowledge; cultures around the world and throughout history have used the sky as a springboard for the imagination, painting heroes, monsters and myths in the constellations. Nowadays, city dwellers are lucky to see even the brightest stars in the sky, let alone the faintest sketch of a familiar constellation.
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday announced his intention to sign a landmark climate bill that passed the state’s legislature last week, mandating large companies to publicly report their GHG emissions. The bill will require some 5,000 public and private companies to report on both direct and indirect emissions, the New York Times reports.
Public disclosures are viewed as an integral path toward slowing down pollution from fossil fuels. The law applies to California firms earning more than $1 billion a year; a significant portion of the firms are international.
“The fact that a single state like California would do this is both potentially troubling and potentially promising,” Robert Stavins, director of the Environmental Economics program at Harvard, said. “It could be the case that a company that is valued at $1 billion has $35 of activity in California but is nevertheless affected. But it’s potentially promising because we have such a long history in the U.S. of California being out front on environmental regulation and other states following and the federal government eventually catching up.”
Saving the Ozone Layer: Our Best Blueprint for the Climate Crisis
We need a fast-acting mandatory approach — and we need it now. Fortunately, an excellent model exists: the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, widely acknowledged as the best-ever environmental agreement and ratified by every UN member nation.
Celebrated on Sept. 16, World Ozone Day, it has solved the first threat to the global atmosphere with mandatory measures to phase out production of chemical refrigerants that were destroying stratospheric ozone and letting in excessive ultraviolet radiation that causes skin cancer, eye cataracts and weakens immune systems, while it degrades forests and other carbon dioxide-removing plants. As a result, the protective ozone layer is on the path to recovery by 2066 over Antarctica, by 2045 over the Arctic and by 2040 over the rest of the world.
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