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Environmental Philosophy

Volume 7, Issue 1, Spring 2010

David Henderson
Pages 17-26

Valuing the Stars
On the Economics of Light Pollution

The night sky has been radically altered by light pollution, artificially produced light that obscures the stars. The effects and costs of this are diverse and poorly appreciated. A survey of the economically quantifiable aspects of this problem demonstrates that the value of the starry sky is immense, and yet it remains stubbornly beyond the ken of the market. The attempts to quantify this value and the ultimate impossibility of the task give lie to the economic pretense that the dollar can commensurate all value. The case of light pollution exemplifies the importance of regulation to the protection of environmental value.

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