“And What do You do With Five-hundred Millions of Stars?”

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“And What do You do With Five-hundred Millions of Stars?” – Reflections on the Assessment of the Night and the Starry Sky through their Protection in the Territories.

Thomas Poméon and Samuel Challéat. Paper accepted for the Royal Geographic Society Annual Conference. London – August 2014
A paper of the RENOIR Research Group for the Locating Value Session, directed by: Samantha Saville and Gareth Hoskins

Abstract

Environmental crises renew questions about the values associated with the “objects of nature”. In this context, there is an endogeneisation of these values in the economic field, by assigning an economic value to the various items and services related to the ecosystem. The neo-classical approach to the environ ment, however, faces the problem of damages and profits commensurability. In fact, the evaluation process can not avoid the issue of socio-spatial construction of associated environmental goods values.

Two emergent specific environmental goods illustrate these valuation difficulties: the night and the starry sky. The negative impact of excess artificial light are now being studied by various fields of knowledge (especially ecology, medicine) [2], but the question of located values associated with the night sky and its stars remains current and overturns a paradigm: it is the darkness of certain territories which can makes their value by a new consideration of sociocultural (welfare, scientific heritage, landscape resource) and ecosystem services (regulation and self-sustaining ecosystem, circadian cycle, etc.) they produce.

Because the night and the starry sky are complex and unbargainable pure collective goods [2], the ability to characterize their value is derived from processes that have cognitive and spatial dimensions [1]. Thus, since the end of 2000’s, initiatives of certification of dark sky protected areas are growing worldwide. They stress an increasing concern about the problems of light pollution caused by the socioeconomic activities. That place the night and the starry sky in the center of new territorial considerations [3,4].

The proposed paper aims to interrogate the valorization process of the night and starry sky, and the types of services they provide to the territories. We question how value is geographically produced, with three entries. (i) What is the position of the objects “night” and “starry sky” in the field of ecosystem services? (ii) How the value of these objects is produced from new territorial action devices? (iii) In return, how these territories convert these services to bring them to local resources, localized competitive advantages, and thus create value from them?

Keywords

Night – Starry night – Locating valuation – Light pollution – Dark Sky Places – Ecosystemic services

References

[1]  Challéat S. and Larceneux A., 2012 (submitted paper). “The Role of Cognition in the Construction of Environmental Problems”, submitted for Développement Durable et Territoires.
[2]  Challéat S., 2010. “Sauver la Nuit” – Empreinte lumineuse, urbanisme et gouvernance des territoires, thèse de doctorat de Géographie soutenue le 13 octobre 2010, Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, 540 p.
[3]  RENOIR Research Group [Bénos R., Challéat S., Lapostolle D., Milian J., Poméon T. and Rayssac S.], 2014 (accepted). “Consider the Starry Night. The Construction of a Place-Based Resource: the International Dark Sky Reserve of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre”, colloque AsTRES, Le tourisme hors des sentiers battus : coulisses, interstices et nouveaux territoires touristiques, 21-23 mai 2014, Paris.
[4]  RENOIR Research Group [Bénos R., Challéat S., Lapostolle D., Milian J. and Poméon T.], 2014 (accepted). “Quand les territoires regardent la nuit”, séminaire du groupe de recherche en Anthropologie de la Nuit (Les Nocturnes), LESC, 14 mars 2014, Nanterre.

Samuel Challéat

Samuel Challéat est chercheur en Géographie de l'environnement à l'UMR CNRS 5193 LISST de l'Université de Toulouse 2. Il est l’auteur, en 2010, de la première thèse de Doctorat portant sur la problématique émergente de la pollution lumineuse. Ce travail, intitulé « "Sauver la nuit". Empreinte lumineuse, urbanisme et gouvernance des territoires », explore les mutations de la fabrique et de la gouvernance de l’éclairage urbain face aux nouvelles préoccupations environnementales et économiques dans les territoires à l’échelle nationale, et ouvre des pistes de recherche sur les notions d’empreinte lumineuse, de trame noire ou encore de paysages nocturnes. Depuis 2013, Samuel Challéat coordonne le Collectif de recherche RENOIR (Ressources environnementales nocturnes & territoires), démarche collective qui opère la jonction entre l’approche de la nuit par les sciences de la société et les approches de la pollution lumineuse par les sciences du vivant. Ses travaux actuels portent la focale – suivant le cadre d’analyse des socio-écosystèmes – sur l’environnement nocturne, qu’il s’attache à construire en objet de recherche interdisciplinaire.

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