In “the peripheral glow of our prosperity", the author cleverly marries two phrases, “peripheral glow” and “glow of our prosperity”, using terms in both a concrete and metaphorical manner.
“Peripheral glow” can be understood literally to refer to the diffusion of artificial light (aka, light pollution) that is especially visible in the urban night-sky from a distance, while figuratively “peripheral glow” refers to the non-local (in terms of space/time and species) or secondary (peripheral) effects of man-made lighting which, though often unseen and unrecognized, are yet damaging to the health of biological organisms.
The usage of “glow” is metaphoric and ironic, on the one hand “glow” symbolizes the pride we feel in our advanced technological capacity, a capacity however which we are coming to realize seems to create as many problems as it was intended to solve, witness global climate change and the geopolitical conflicts surrounding our industrial dependence on petroleum. On the other hand, “glow”---a word with synonyms like radiance, light, shine, gleam, glimmer, incandescence, and luminescence---evokes nothing but the positive associations of warmth and security.
“Glow of our prosperity” can again be understood as the wealth and security---the prosperity---resulting from advanced technological capacity and the control it apparently confers over nature, and the pride we feel in our way of life. And this “glow” can alternatively be understood as an “afterglow”, a secondary and lingering effect, resulting from that same technological capacity and lifestyle.
Excerpt from, International Dark Sky Association
The way we see the night today is vastly different than the way people saw the night just a couple of centuries ago. When most of us look out our windows at night we see the soft glow of street lamps and porch lights. What most of us don’t see is the bright twinkle of stars and planets.
Light pollution is when large amounts of light hinder sky visibility and create adverse effects to those living around it. Light pollution is especially common in urban areas, where buildings are close together and lights are often left on all night long. This causes a waste of energy that could be saved by turning off the lights.
Light pollution has negative impacts on wildlife, astronomers, and people. All the extra light can cause confusion in animal migratory and mating patterns, which in turn causes problems within the entire ecosystem. Light pollution can also be confusing to nocturnal animals and those that rely on natural light for communication such as fireflies.
Astronomers feel the effects of light pollution as well, as it keeps them from having a clear view of the sky, and can prevent their instruments from working properly. Light pollution also means that it is harder for people to stargaze and enjoy nature because the lights are so bright.
When it comes to health effects, studies have shown that light pollution negatively affects humans’ natural sleep pattern, and that an increase of exposure to artificial light can lead to an increased chance of cancer.
International Dark Sky Association