The Ground Beneath Us

“A beautiful call for deeper physical, intellectual, and emotional connections between people and Earth." —David George Haskell

When a teaspoon of soil contains millions of species, and when we pave over the earth on a daily basis, what does that mean for our future? What is the risk to our food supply, the planet’s wildlife, the soil on which every life-form depends? How much undeveloped, untrodden ground do we even have left?

Paul Bogard set out to answer these questions in The Ground Beneath Us, and what he discovered is astounding.

From New York (where more than 118,000,000 tons of human development rest on top of Manhattan Island) to Mexico City (which sinks inches each year into the Aztec ruins beneath it), Bogard shows us the weight of our cities’ footprints. And as we see hallowed ground coughing up bullets at a Civil War battlefield; long-hidden remains emerging from below the sites of concentration camps; the dangerous, alluring power of fracking; the fragility of the giant redwoods, our planet’s oldest living things; the surprises hidden under a Major League ballpark’s grass; and the sublime beauty of our few remaining wildest places,one truth becomes blazingly clear:

The ground is the easiest resource to forget, and the last we should.

Bogard’s The Ground Beneath Us is deeply transporting reading that introduces farmers, geologists, ecologists, cartographers, and others in a quest to understand the importance of something too many of us take for granted: dirt. From growth and life to death and loss, and from the subsurface technologies that run our cities to the dwindling number of idyllic Edens that remain, this is the fascinating story of the ground beneath our feet.



"An intriguing examination of the ground, which “holds the wild world in place."


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"A lyrical, far-reaching book. Part elegy, part call-to-arms, The End of Night feels like an essential addition to the literature of nature."   — Boston globe

A deeply panoramic tour of the night, from its brightest spots to the darkest skies we have left.

A starry night is one of nature's most magical wonders. Yet in our artificially lit world, three-quarters of Americans' eyes never switch to night vision and most of us no longer experience true darkness. In THE END OF NIGHT, Paul Bogard restores our awareness of the spectacularly primal, wildly dark night sky and how it has influenced the human experience across everything from science to art.

From Las Vegas' Luxor Beam--the brightest single spot on this planet--to nights so starlit the sky looks like snow, Bogard blends personal narrative, natural history, science, and history to shed light on the importance of darkness--what we've lost, what we still have, and what we might regain--and the simple ways we can reduce the brightness of our nights tonight.






"A moving, poetic, immersive, multifaceted, and thought-provoking study... Terrific."

Publishers Weekly

"[Bogard] offers delightful insights from experts on the activities of nature during the night.... Bogard will leave readers in awe of darkness and in admiration of his book."

Library Journal (starred review)

"In this artful blend of environmental and cultural history, Bogard manages to make a book about light pollution pure reading pleasure. As he travels the world looking for dark spaces that best reveal the night skies, Bogard considers our affinity for artificial light, the false sense of security it provides, and its implications. Smart, surprising, and thoroughly enjoyable.

—Colleen Mondor, Booklist

"The most precious things in the modern world are probably silence, solitude, and darkness—and of these three rarities, true darkness may be the rarest of all. Many thanks to Paul Bogard for searching out the dark spots and reminding us to celebrate them!"

—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

"Darkness is among the many things we have lost gradually, without mourning. Paul Bogard offers a brilliantly illuminating history and a badly needed reminder that we have been blind to the death of night."

—Bill Streever, author of Cold

NATURE  |  VOL 499 |  4 JULY 2013

NATURE  |  VOL 499 |  4 JULY 2013








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Let There Be Night

The development of the modern world has brought with it rampant light pollution, destroying the ancient mystery of night and exacting a terrible price--wasted energy, damage to human health, and the sometimes fatal interruption of the life patterns of many wildlife species. Artificial light blocks our view of the stars and mirrors a lack of appreciation for night’s gifts of quiet and repose, and it negatively affects ecosystems in ways we are only beginning to understand. In Let There Be Nighttwenty-nine writers, scientists, poets, and scholars share their personal experiences of night and help us to understand what we are losing as dark skies and nocturnal wildness disappear.

Their testimonies speak of the emotional and spiritual comforts of night; the awe we experience in the presence of vast, starlit skies; the scientific complexity of earth's diurnal rhythms; and the thrill of witnessing children's discovery of the magic of nighttime. These writers examine the folklore of night and trace the historical devaluation of nighttime as industrialization and technology banished darkness and its companion, silence, from our lives. And they propose ways by which we might restore the beneficence of true night skies to our cities and our culture. 

Let There Be Night examines a precious aspect of human experience in grave danger. The contributors offer an urgent call to awareness and action, and their diverse perceptions and voices also provide a statement of hope that the ancient magic of the night can be returned to our world.



"This collection makes a unique contribution to environmental writing. This is simply a wonderful idea for an anthology, and the writing is vibrant and insightful.”

—Bradley John Monsma, author of The Sespe Wild: Southern California’s Last Free River

Let There Be Night celebrates the gifts of darkness and mourns the loss of dark skies to light pollution. These fine essays reopen us to the dark, where we learn courage and remember wonder.”

—Stephen Trimble, author of The Sagebrush Ocean: A Natural History of the Great Basin


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