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Reading Response: "Our Vanishing Night" by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Alem is an entrepreneur and writer with an A.S. in digital filmmaking.


This essay makes me think about human evolution. This thought entered my mind when I read the following sentence, "In most cities the sky looks as though it has been emptied of stars, leaving behind a vacant haze that mirrors our fear of the dark and resembles the urban glow of dystopian science fiction." I like to think of myself as a philosopher, mainly because my mind is filled with so many questions about so many things on a daily basis. Not too long ago I was looking up at the night sky and as usual a question popped into my head. What happened to all the stars? Usually at this point I would call someone or if I am around a person who has a brain and actually uses it, I would ask them what they think. For some reason I don't remember why but, I just brushed the thought off. And now after reading this essay the thought is not only back, its amplified.

It makes logical sense that light pollution in responsible for the appearance of less stars in the sky at night. But still once again my mind is drifting away from the thought of the missing stars, it's more on our evolution. I had a talk with a friend today he believes that he will live to be over 100yrs. old. He figures by the time he reaches an age when his body starts to deteriorate there will be new medical advances to ensure a longer survival. I see problems with this. Just as the light pollution that we create is currently having negative effects on our environment so to I believe technology will do the same. This essay speaks of a day when the only light at night came from the moon, stars, and candle lit devices. We have come a long way as far as technology goes and because of this most people would say life is easier than it used to be. I question that.

For every invention that has made our life's "easier" or more exciting, we could possibly be paying a big price. Already scientists are linking cell phone towers to cancer, automobiles emissions to holes in the ozone, hormones in our food to rapid physical development in children, etc. The more we come up with ways to do things faster, better, and easier, we are neglecting the evolutionary effects that these things will have on our future. I asked my friend, what is the use of using technology to prolong your life if it's going to end up destroying the planet that you live in? He didn't have an answer. I think that more effort should be put into studying the harmful effects of some of the technology that we have become dependent on before it's too late. But, at the end of the day I do live in a country that consumes and waste the most resources in the world per-capita so, I won't be holding my breath.

This Essay can be found in a book titled "The Best American Essays" by Mary Oliver.

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