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Johan Ekloef

Darkness Manifesto, The

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This is the first book about the science and natural history of darkness.

How much light is too much light?

Satellite pictures show our planet as a brightly glowing orb. In our era of 24/7 illumination, an excess of light is a pressing problem. Just about every creature on earth, humans included, operates according to the circadian rhythm. The world's flora and fauna have evolved to operate in the natural cycle of day and night, but in 2021, light pollution has become a major issue. Swedes have always had to deal with extremes of light and dark, thanks to the short winter days and bright summer nights - but these days there are few corners of the world that don't have their own artificial 'white nights'.

This well-researched book challenges our instinctual fear of the dark and urges us to cherish the darkness, its creatures, and its unique beauties. Ekloef ponders the beauties of the night sky, traces the errant paths of light-drunk moths and the swift dives of keen-eyed owls. He explains the echolocation of bats and shrews and shows us the bioluminescent creatures of the deepest oceans.

Johan Ekloef has a doctorate in zoology and is one of the world's preeminent bat experts. He lives in the west of Sweden, where he works as a conservationist and copywriter. As a devoted friend of the night, in The Darkness Manifesto, he writes urgently and personally about the damage we inflict on ourselves and our fellow creatures simply by keeping the lights on. He depicts in the domino-effect of diminishing darkness - insects dumbfounded by streetlights failing to reproduce, birds blinded and bewildered by lights, bats starving as they wait in vain for food insects that only come out in the dark of night, and humans growing ever more stressed and obese from light-induced sleep disturbances.

The light bulb - for a long time the very symbol of progress and development - needs to be turned off. There is still hope for nocturnal life. Perhaps the next generation will be able to gaze out into the starry sky the same way mankind did before the discovery of electricity. Carpe diem? Carpe noctem!


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