Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Haley Reading Group: The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness


[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]

In her article “The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness,” Rebecca Boyle discusses the sometimes troubling consequences of living in a world where light and lighting matters so much. Boyle explains how apparently advanced countries like the United States depend on lights opposed to how some developing nations depend on darkness. The article raises a range of issues concerning the implications of light in our society and the world.

Boyle discusses the relationship between light and health problems. At one point, the author suggests that "depression, obesity, and cancer" could all be linked to light (52).

After reading Boyle’s article, what are some things concerning light that you will view in new ways? Or, what's something you plan to do differently as a result of reading the article? How did the article shape that new view or behavior? If applicable, please provide a page citation.

Some previous responses:
"In Rebecca Doyle's "The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness", I found it extremely interesting all the effects man-made lights had on animals. Not only does it disrupt the pathway new born sea turtles have to take to get to the sea (47), it also takes a toll on many different bird species, and bats." --Jasmyn K.

"Before reading "The Health Effect of a World Without Darkness," I was unaware of many of the very real issues caused by light pollution. The most shocking health effect, to me, was insomnia being caused by artificial light. "There is a great difference between natural night waking and electronic-induced insomnia" (51). I was originally unaware of the difference. I think it's important that Doyle is drawing attention to the effects of light pollution that can harm us in our everyday lives without us even knowing." --Jada J.

"In 'The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness' Rebecca Doyle expresses her profound thoughts about the use of electronic devices and the effect it has on today's health. Reading this made me realize how much of a correlation electronic devices and health really have." --Kiara C.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

After reading Boyle's article, my outlook on artificial light changed, especially after she said, "artificial light provides an artificial sense of security" (46). Reading how artificial light has a connection to obesity, depression, and cancer makes me want to use less artificial light as possible. I plan on using sunlight more during the day instead of turning on a lamp, and downloading the Elux app to change the lightening on my phone at night, my chances of insomnia decrease.

Samantha A.

Linda H. said...

Linda H.

Reading Rebecca Boyle's "The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness" I discovered how important darkness can be. Before reading I saw darkness as the bane of human productivity, and light as the hero that restores order. Reading this article really made me realize things about light in my everyday life that I never payed attention to, for example how what seems like a small amount of light can have a negative impact on my sleep. This article taught me new things about sleep like melatonin production levels and "redshifted lights" (51). This article also taught me how light can affect animals, before I didn't realize animals payed any attention to artificial lighting. I found this article interesting because it taught me a lot about light, and gave me insight on how to improve my sleep.

Anonymous said...

Jason A.

I now know the science behind why artificial light can so damaging. From now on I'll probably feel a little more guilty staying up late and using my phone or watching TV. I might also try to sleep in complete darkness more often. Maybe I'll even buy some red shifted lights for my home in the future.

Anonymous said...

After reading Boyle's article, I now will take into consideration as to how much time I spend on my phone and electronic devices. This article opened my eyes to a very different perspective on light. Usually I do not take much consideration on how effective a small beam of light can be not only to me, but also to animals around me. Light has severely impacted the bats species, those of which are suffering direct ecological and physiological effects such as having shorter wings and weighing less than those born in the dark. (page 47) This article really makes me want to make a change and light usage.

LaTrina B.

Unknown said...

Alexis H.

After reading Boyle’s article I plan on using the bedtime app Apple provided on my phone. This way I will have more red LED being projected if I get on my phone at “nighttime”. I think this will help me get a better sleep at night. I do manage to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, but it does not seem like quality sleep. I will also continue to open and close my blinds. I can use the sun as my blue light instead of my phone which is very harmful.

Anonymous said...

Kami Douglas
After reading Boyle's article, my views towards light and the applications of light have been altered. Prior to this article, I thought of artificial light as a necessity for human life, essential for everything. I thought that having the ability to see brought protection and comfort, however I realized that is not the case.
For instance, the article states, "A 1997 report from the U.S. National Institute of Justice found no conclusive correlation between nighttime lighting and crime rates"(46). When growing up, I felt less fearful when walking down a road with nighttime lights than one that did not. When in reality, having the ability to see did nothing to dampening the crime rates. Therefore, my sense of the need for artificial light has altered.

Rachael Gray said...

“The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness”
I had no idea that artificial light cause health problems. That makes me really mad because no one says anything about that. No one tells you that when you buy a light bulb. Why is that not spoken about? Why is that not a concern? I am so surprised to find out how much lux artificial lights in the mall produce at night. It worries me. I will probably not go shopping at night now, as well as other places. I wonder how many nocturnal animals are dying more because of the nighttime artificial light. I can’t believe that this entire time artificial light has been decreasing melatonin production and, therefore, caused cancer, obesity, and depression. I just don’t understand why people have not spoken out more about this because this is really serious and could save a lot of lives if people know about it. I did not know using electronic devices at night decreases melatonin production by twenty-two percent. I will probably not be using electronic devices at night now. At least human are using some methods to help the nocturnal animals, like the lights out campaigns, but more still needs to be done. The cities that are turning off their lights at night are doing a good job. I will probably download that F.lux app. On page fifty-one, the author said, “Blue light also pours from the phone, tablet, or computer screen on which you’re reading this.” I thought this was funny because I am actually reading it from a book. I am so happy and thankful I read this article. If I had not, I would not be aware of any of this and would not be able to change my ways.
-Rachael Gray

Gabrielle H. said...

In The article "The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness," Rebecca covers many different reasons as to why light pollution is the cause of unwanted health risk. I was shocked to read that not only does light pollution increase your chances of having insomnia, but it also has an affect the chance of having depression, obesity, and cancer. It was harder to hear a Stevens, a publisher of breast cancer sensitivity, affirm this on page 52 when Rebecca asked him, "Is it a legitimate question to ask if light is the major factor in depression, obesity, and cancer?" As he responded with a hard, "Yes. No doubt about it." After reading this article, I enjoyed the fact that Rebecca included some ways to decrease my exposure to light. I have decorative lights above my bed that I usually sleep with on because I don't think much of it, but now I know to unplug it before I sleep. I will also restrict being on my phone and watching Netflix right before I sleep. It is helpful that Rebecca recommended downloading the app "F.lux"(pg 54). I will certainly give this app a go on my phone if I'm not outside more often after reading this article.

Unknown said...

I had known that artificial light from phones affected sleep and ive heard pf light pollution but it's never really been focused. Similar to mental health it feels as if the majority of society could care less to specifically hone in on it. The fact that our original desire for light in the dark came with flames which pose their own dangers parallels with artificial light that has dangers we ignore is nearly ironic. I was unaware that artificial light pollution "might directly cause, cancer , obesity, and depression...(48 Boyle)" . in this current age where media information dominates, and thr over all structures of our society being about productivity, efficiency and money, our desire for light combined with this may vetg well accelerate these conditions for some people. It was an interesting reading because if we didn't have duchba heavy reliance and false security of light, would we possibly be more aware of our surroundings?
-Andrew H

Anonymous said...

After reading this passage, I will continue to not use my overhead light unless completely necessary. I know that using this light is sometimes necessary but if there is still daylight, I will have my shades opened. I will also try to not use my phone and tablet late at night when I am trying to get ready for bed because I know that this messes with sleep schedules. This article did open my eyes as to thinking of different alternatives we could use instead of always using lights. We can burn candles and use light provided by the sun as long as it is daytime. I think using our resources in this way will be beneficial for the world as a whole.
-Jasmine D.

Brian Green said...

In Rebecca Boyle’s “The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness”, I was unaware of the affects of artificial lighting on animals and other creatures. On land, artificial lighting causes a cascade of negative physiological changes in diurnal creatures, many brought about by the delayed release of the hormone melatonin(48). After reading the article, I am now more aware that melatonin has the same basic function in people, birds, fish, and other mammals. Melatonin is very important and it makes the animals be able to make their living. It also helps prevents diseases that occur in these animals.

Brian G.

Caleb Abernathy said...

There were a plethora of facts from this passage that I found rather interesting. The first one is that some scientists relate the fact of some obesity to artificial light (50). I understand their reasoning but don't buy into the overall finding. Yes, artificial light makes us stay up longer, but it is not making anyone go and eat. Eating is 100% a personal choice. It seems as though they are trying to create another excuse for people being overweight.

Also, in the passage, it states that blue light is the most impactful and it comes from just about every technological object we have (51). This is also true, but all of those devices that use blue light also have blue light filter options that stop the device from emitting blue light. There are also gamma-ray glasses that can block out all blue light. There are options to get around the blue light.

Caulder J Brantley said...

Caulder Brantley

After reading Rebecca Boyle's article I was thoroughly surprised by how many adverse effects there are from artificial lighting. This article really opened my eyes to how something as simple as lighting negatively impacts our surrounding wildlife. Before reading this article I already knew how humanity had a issue with light pollution, but I didn't know how how many heath effects there were from artificial lighting. I plan on trying to limit my use of artificial lighting by trying to complete my work during daylight hours from now on.

Anonymous said...

After reading “The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness”, I realized majority of the world isn’t able to see the beauty of natural God-given light, the stars, and natural realm of the sky because of the pollution of artificial light. In order to see the natural light it first must be darkness, ridding the earth of man-made light so that we’re able to observe the cosmos and constellations of the sky to embrace the heritage of our ancestors beyond the “Human-controlled light”.
“Despite their utility, these artificial lights were sources of danger in their own right…The loss of nighttime darkness neglects our shared past, but it might very well cut short our futures too” (45-6)
I have viewed night time light in a new way because I didn’t realize how dangerous it was not only to me, but others as well by the most simplest of means. It may give off a sense of security, but it does more harm than good.

Celeste B.

Anonymous said...

I think reading this was very interesting. It discusses how damaging artificial light can be for humans. I can see this even in my own life when I am exposed to light from my phone and then cannot fall asleep. Artificial light pollution in general can cause many other problems. Countries with high amounts of artificial light have also been linked to high amounts of cancer, sleep deprivation, depression and obesity.

Fatima B.

Mara Bracken said...

Before reading this article I had heard of light pollution was something was of concern, but didn’t know enough about the topic to be alarmed. I also knew that artificial light has aides things like insomnia and depression and insufficient sleep.After reading this article I know that light pollution affects more than humans and that animal’s biological instincts are causing them harm due to not being able to use the natural lighting of the moon or the darkness of night time. Something I can do differently is only using artificial light when I absolutely need it to. And for my personal health try to use my phone less at night.(which is probably the reason I have a hard time staying sleep through the night)

Mara B

Anonymous said...

On page 52, they address that light could be a factor that affects obesity, depression, and cancer (52). This is a wake-up call to everyone. It makes me want to rethink all of the time that I spend on my phone. It is important to note that in today's culture, it is very common to be on a phone, laptop, tablet, or television- all contributing factors to sleep patterns. I will definitely change how often I am on these devices! Hannah C.

Anonymous said...

I found this article very interesting to read about and I never thought of light as a bad thing. This article helped to allow me to open my eyes up to problems you might not ever even consider. Gabriel G.

Anonymous said...


After reading the article, I was shocked to learn about light pollution. I have heard the term a few times when it came to stargazing, but realizing that it is a more serious thing that causes many mental heath debilitations, and distracts an animals natural instincts. "Nowhere is light pollution more apparent, almost achingly so, than in satellite images of Earth from space." (45) Though I rarely use light since i tend to gravitate towards natural lighting and the dim lights in the afternoon and nightly hours, This keeps me aware to try and reduce the pollution as much as possible.

Dylan B

Anonymous said...

I think the concept of the effects artificial light on animals is very interesting. I never thought about how animals use the moon as a guiding light but now that I think about it I realize that and insects are big on that. Insects fly into houses and get attached to light one because of heat and scientifically they are drawn to other sources of natural light. This chapter was very interesting compared to the previous ones. Ronald A.

lulu127491 said...

I am going to start going to sleep when It is dusk outside and not stay up using artificial lights. On page 48, Boyle talks about how light pollution has been found to cause cancer. They continued to show studies about how melatonin can prevent breast tumors in rats. Light shuts off the effects of melatonin, therefore blocking this natural preventative measure. Amira Fane

Anonymous said...

After reading the article, I am surprised to learn that light can have such a negative impact on people and animals. In the article it says “they found that mice who were exposed to constant bright light exhibited depressive symptoms, behaving listlessly and ignoring their sugar-water treats” (50). This article really made me think about how much time I spend with lights in my face from my phone, tv, and computer. I plan to limit the amount of time I am exposed to light so that I won’t experience any of the negative impacts mentioned in Boyle’s article. Alyria B.

Anonymous said...

When I was reading this article I started to realize that the light has played a big role in my life and the fact that even my major involves me looking at a bright screen all day affects
my emotions. On page 52 "Is it a legitimate question to ask if light is the major factor in depression, obesity, and cancer?"(52). He said Yes it is and was certain about this answer. Which I do agree with because the more I sit down and look at my phone and look at my laptop the more of my life I slipping right past me.

-Patrick G.

Anonymous said...

I have known about light pollution for quite a long time now. It affects our farmland, our animals, and even our own brains. However, I did not know that this form of pollution could even go as far as to cause deadly diseases such as cancer, depression, and obesity. These are very large public health issues that demand equally require – nay, demand equally large campaigns to counteract. After reading this post I am inspired to see if I can help with the issue. If there is some way to convince cities and governments to shut off their lights when it gets dark outside, we might have a good start. Though, it also makes me think about how a world with less light might affect those that need it. I know that I may feel safe walking around outside if I need to, but would I feel the same if I were in a wheelchair? Or would I feel the same if I had a mental disability? A simple answer like, “just turn off the lights,” probably isn’t correct, but it is a step in the right direction.

- Joshua Coleman

CausalNexus said...

I have known about light pollution for quite a long time now. It affects our farmland, our animals, and even our own brains. However, I did not know that this form of pollution could even go as far as to cause deadly diseases such as cancer, depression, and obesity. These are very large public health issues that demand equally require – nay, demand equally large campaigns to counteract. After reading this post I am inspired to see if I can help with the issue. If there is some way to convince cities and governments to shut off their lights when it gets dark outside, we might have a good start. Though, it also makes me think about how a world with less light might affect those that need it. I know that I may feel safe walking around outside if I need to, but would I feel the same if I were in a wheelchair? Or would I feel the same if I had a mental disability? A simple answer like, “just turn off the lights,” probably isn’t correct, but it is a step in the right direction.

- Joshua Coleman