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Dark Planet: Rethinking the Futures of Multispecies Places

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Publication date22/06/2022
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventPlanetary Futures of Health and Wellbeing: 22nd Futures Conference - Radisson Blu Marina Palace Hotel, Turku, Finland
Duration: 15/06/202217/06/2022


ConferencePlanetary Futures of Health and Wellbeing
Internet address


Light is everywhere, often uninvited as a by-product of our contemporary lives. Darkness meanwhile appears unwanted, yet is essential to our health and wellbeing, other species and our planet. We currently use more resources than can be sustained and need to fundamentally rethink our relationship with darkness. The plethora of new agendas promoting health and wellbeing in cities meanwhile are accompanied by visions of clean, green and daylit urban environments. They say nothing about how we might promote health and wellbeing at night or the multispecies city after dark. How might we move towards a darker planet to protect biodiversity and reduce the cascading impacts of artificial light at night?

Since the Enlightenment, Western culture in particular has been intrinsically bound with ideas regarding illumination and a reductive world-view that does not account for the diversity of experience apparent around the world. In the context of many city centres around the world, darkness is now unwanted, connected as it is to negative cultural and historical associations alongside contemporary perspectives of fear and crime. Values of light, clarity, cleanliness and coherence have since been transferred across the global experience of culture more widely, resulting in a worldwide decline of the ‘nocturnal commons’ to which urbanisation has significantly contributed.

When we consider what futures are possible or plausible they tend to direct us to visions of either a shiny, frictionless world which is light and bright, or at the other end of the spectrum they are the fearsome, shadowy dystopias where darkness is vital to their encounter. This paper examines a third way, where we reconsider ourselves, our world and other species we share it with differently. It proposes a new philosophy in which gloom is reclaimed as an emancipatory place for positive thought and creative expression to move us toward a sustainable and healthy environment for all collective life – a dark planet. In doing so, it aims to set out a new pathway for fostering the conditions and behaviours that enable human and nonhuman life to flourish together.