Caring About Quiet


Point well taken. We came to believe in the importance of efforts to reduce noise pollution while living in southern India, a noisy place indeed. Thanks to Dr. Morber for adding the soundscape to this story:


Listening to Silence: Why We Must Protect the World’s Quiet Places

As more people push into once-remote areas, truly quiet spots — devoid of the noise of traffic or crowds of tourists — have become increasingly scarce. Now, a coalition of activists, scientists, and park officials are trying to preserve the last quiet places on the planet.

It is a frosty March morning in the Hoh Rainforest, deep within Olympic National Park in Washington state. The forest is full of Jurassic ferns, hanging moss, and towering spruce and cedars, but what I hope to find is an absence. I seek a spot known as the “One Square Inch of Silence” — one of the quietest places in the contiguous United States, free from chattering people, humming power lines, and the whoosh of cars.

When I find the moss-covered log surrounded by a collection of red stones marking the spot, I listen. I hear the roar of the river and maybe a waterfall. There is an occasional bird song. And nothing else. I had worried that something would ruin it — that there would already be someone there, a plane would rumble overhead, or I would hear kayakers yelling on the river nearby — but as I sit and close my eyes I can’t hear a single human sound. It feels amazing. I needed this quiet. We all do.

As the global population soars, cities and towns sprawl out, and roads stretch into even the most remote parts the world, quiet is becoming increasingly scarce. The noise of buzz saws and trucks infiltrate deep into the Amazon rainforest. The blast of ship horns ring out over the Arctic Ocean. The U.S. has become a highly developed landscape, with just a fraction of its original wilderness remaining, split up into parks and protected areas. Now, even in these refuges, cars, planes, motorboats, helicopters, and crowds contribute to the growing din.

2017 study by scientists at Colorado State University and the National Park Service found that human noise doubled background sounds in 63 percent of U.S. protected areas. In 21 percent of parks, human noise increased background sounds 10-fold, “surpassing levels known to interfere with human visitor experience and disrupt wildlife behavior, fitness, and community composition.”…

Read the whole story here.

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