Looking Up

Light pollution affects so much, from plant pollination rates to human mental health. Kimberly Dill hopes her research on dark sky conservation inspires change.

Looking Up
Image courtesy iStock

Imagine a cloudless night. If you look up, can you see the glorious band of our Milky Way Galaxy stretching from horizon to horizon? If you live in a city, probably not. Hackworth Grant-recipient and assistant professor of philosophy Kimberly Dill is hoping her research on dark sky conservation can inspire change.

In talking about conservation, light isn’t often seen as a pollutant. But it has a huge impact on both the environment and humans—including pollination, migration, mental health, and even cancer rates.

“The human and more-than-human worlds are entangled in these very rich and deep ways,” Dill says. “I see my work as making those connections a lot more explicit.”

With her Markkula Center grant, Dill will visit three international dark sites to investigate how dark sky conservation policy tensions might be resolved: Alqueva, Portugal; Galloway Forest Park, Scotland; and Bryce Canyon National Park, U.S.

Through this research, Dill hopes to highlight a Jain philosophical value called anekantavada, meaning ‘many-sidedness.’ “If you want to get a complete picture of a complex issue, learn as much as you can about as many diverse worldviews as you can,” she explains. “Then, see where they overlap and articulate your theories there.”

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