May 2012 Sat Essay Prompt

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Computer images of the United States at night, based on NASA photographs, show that what was a very dark country as recently as the 1950s is now nearly covered with a blanket of light.

Much of this light is wasted energy, which means wasted dollars.

Other communities are finding success with simply turning off portions of their public lighting after midnight.

Even Paris, the famed “city of light,” which already turns off its monument lighting after 1 a.m., will this summer start to require its shops, offices and public buildings to turn off lights after 2 a.m.

The education people receive does not occur primarily in school.

Young people are formed by their experiences with parents, teachers, peers, and even strangers on the street, and by the sports teams they play for, the shopping malls they frequent, the songs they hear, and the shows they watch. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century Many people believe that our government should do more to solve our problems.Some examples are well known—the 400 species of birds that migrate at night in North America, the sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs—and some are not, such as the bats that save American farmers billions in pest control and the moths that pollinate 80% of the world’s flora. howwould Van Gogh have given the world his “Starry Night”?Ecological light pollution is like the bulldozer of the night, wrecking habitat and disrupting ecosystems several billion years in the making. .5 In today’s crowded, louder, more fast-paced world, night’s darkness can provide solitude, quiet and stillness, qualities increasingly in short supply. Who knows what this vision of the night sky might inspire in each of us, in our children or grandchildren?evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims; reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence; and stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.1 At my family’s cabin on a Minnesota lake, I knew woods so dark that my hands disappeared before my eyes.Though primarily designed to save energy, such reductions in light will also go far in addressing light pollution.But we will never truly address the problem of light pollution until we become aware of the irreplaceable value and beauty of the darkness we are losing.Simply put, without darkness, Earth’s ecology would collapse. Every religious tradition has considered darkness invaluable for a soulful life, and the chance to witness the universe has inspired artists, philosophers and everyday stargazers since time began. 6 Yet all over the world, our nights are growing brighter.In the United States and Western Europe, the amount of light in the sky increases an average of about 6% every year.This winter solstice, as we cheer the days’ gradual movement back toward light, let us also remember the irreplaceable value of darkness.2 All life evolved to the steady rhythm of bright days and dark nights.Today, though, when we feel the closeness of nightfall, we reach quickly for a light switch.

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