Time for lights out and starry starry nights

Sky thick with stars

Here's one for you. Who said the following? 'Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals..,' asks Joan Chittister.

- NCR Online

'...not to speak of vulgarising charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at last it looks as if our people were awakening.'

No, this was not said by some enthusiastic young activist on a foray into the world of contemporary ecology. On the contrary, it was said by Teddy Roosevelt, the great conservation president, in 1901.

The subject clearly is not a new one; however, we have ignored it over the years. Roosevelt, a genuine outdoorsman himself, was in the process of setting aside over two million acres of land to preserve the forests and natural value of this country in an era easily as rapacious as ours.

But at the same time, yes, it does 'at last look as if our people were awakening'. (More than) 100 years later, yes. But still good -- if it's not already too late.

At least we're at the point where ecology is being taught in our schools. Legislation has turned its attention to preserving the species of the planet. Commercial fishing quotas and methods are now on the radar of the world. Private citizens are devoting their lives to saving spawning places and water. And we're even beginning to understand that what we allow to happen to the habitat of animals will soon affect our own habitats.

And yet, our forests are still endangered. Our seas and rivers are still being overfished. Our groundwater is under attack from drilling methods designed to satisfy our insatiable lust for gas and oil.

Clearly, pollution is something we think we know a good deal about now. But then, out of the blue -- literally -- comes something many of us have never even thought about before. At least I never did. Until I got to Ireland.

Here in County Kerry, Ireland, where I have come to write for a while, a remote area of (around) 700 square kilometers on the Iveragh Peninsula has just been designated an International Dark Sky Reserve.

A what?

FULL STORY Humanity deserves dark skies and starry nights (NCR Online)

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