La nuit, une nouvelle question pour la géographie

Abstract : Our Western society has a complex relationship with night, the period of time which is protected from diurnal rhythms and which both facilitates thought, reflection, the imagination, creativity, listening to others and coming together while, at the same time, reveals segregation, fear and hence restriction. We consider urban lighting in developed countries - a real project with a strong symbolic value - in relation to the socio-cultural, ecological and health costs of artificial light. Describing the different impacts of artificial nocturnal light with the help of concepts drawn from environmental economics makes it possible to see damage to health and the environment as well as the reduction - and even the loss - of accessibility to the starry sky as significant sources of pollution. We show how the starry sky, considered as environmental property, has been seized on by astronomers in their promotion of "Save the night", a substantial project which now concerns the nocturnal environment in general. From its inception, the project has met with opposition, but the essential energy-saving measures and budget restrictions of communities have brought about an increased local interest in the different propositions put forward by associations for the "protec- tion of the nocturnal sky and environment". The questionable efficiency of the "Coase Theorem" bargaining mechanisms, however, leads us to maintain that the protection of this totally public property, which can be neither appropriated nor marketed, must be the responsibility of public authorities.
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Samuel Challéat. La nuit, une nouvelle question pour la géographie. Bulletin de l'Association de géographes français, Association des Géographes Français, 2011, 88 (2), pp.183-196. ⟨hal-00924555⟩

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