Is freedom from light trespass one of our inalienable rights, granted and established by the words Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enshrined in the Declaration of Independence? 

Would not the founding forefathers have included this scourge of light trespass and light pollution in our Constitution had it existed then? And furthermore, with the prevalence of this rapidly growing and deadly source of danger, would they not have set up lasting protections for the citizens of this new country they were founding? 

As life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is at the heart of the Declaration of  Independence, how might that apply to light pollution and light trespass? 

Life, one that is not threatened by the health problems artificial light brings to humans, animals, birds, insects, and plants alike with whom we share this globe. 

Liberty, every person, and creature inhabiting this globe have a right to enjoy their home and outdoor environment without relinquishing their rights to another’s glaring and intrusive lighting, be it neighbor, business, municipality, or government entity. 

Pursuit of happiness, we all have a right to step outside at night and be able to look up in wonder and awe at what Mother Nature has created for us above this little spinning blue planet. It is our birthright and heritage. 

It is time for a Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of artificial light that now rules so many lives as a dictator. 

Furthermore, let us relegate blackout curtains to their originally conceived function, keeping light from indoors from escaping out into the night.  

Whether to prevent a clear target for a bombing run from a wartime enemy, or to prevent light from escaping to wreak havoc on the natural nighttime environment that comes alive after the sun sets and darkness descends, they certainly should not function to block light from getting in. 

Unless you wish to sleep after the sun wakes and appears over the horizon, or if you are sensitive to the full moon’s light. Or wish to nap during the day. 

Using blackout curtains that imprison us in our homes by the lights growing in strength and number and power from outside, deprives each and every one of us of a life lived safely and comfortably in our own homes. Depriving each one of us, and our fellow creatures inhabiting this planet; be they mammal, insect, fowl,  fish, or plant, of our inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

And if Mother Nature and other countries are not covered under these lofty principles, they certainly should be. 

Windows, skylights, and doors have all gotten larger over the years. Artificial lights have gotten brighter and whiter. So much more light is escaping out of homes and buildings and off of sea-faring vessels than could have ever been imagined.  

A man-made crisis, but certainly not an unsolvable one. Technology now affords programable, dimmable, and targetable lighting today to solve this easily and effectively. 

It is time to protect our world from all intrusive lighting, whether it originates from outside structures, or from within. 

Here in Northern Virginia, from Fairfax County Park Authority’s Turner Farm Park  Observatory to the Observatory on George Mason University’s campus, to  Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts, to every park and neighborhood,  light trespass is a clear and present danger to all of our lives, livelihoods and quality of life. 

Relegating blackout curtains to their original purpose, keeping light IN, in conjunction with adopting ROLAN, responsible outdoor light at night, frees us all to enjoy this beautiful and fragile planet day AND night, as countless generations have for centuries before the invention of the lightbulb, barely 100 years ago. 

E. Kragie is the founder of Dark Sky Friends an organization that promotes responsible outdoor lighting at night.

 

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