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On Light Pollution, Passive Pleasures, and the Instrumental Value of Beauty

Terrel Gallaway

Journal of Economic Issues, 2010, vol. 44, issue 1, 71-88

Abstract: The night sky is a unique and exquisitely valuable cultural asset that is being lost to humanity. Light pollution obscures the heavens, interferes with wildlife, and wastes billions of dollars in energy annually. Light pollution can be easily mitigated, but unfortunately, it has gone largely unnoticed as a preventable environmental problem. This paper examines light pollution as well as the value of the night sky. The paper focuses on society's disregard for the loss of a cultural asset that has been a part of art, science, and culture for as long as these things have existed. It argues that the blame lies largely in an inability to articulate adequately the value of natural beauty. It is further argued that such beauty has instrumental value, and the explicit recognition of this value is an important step toward preserving the night sky and other objects of natural beauty.

Date: 2010
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DOI: 10.2753/JEI0021-3624440104

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