ARTICLE: The Conservation Of Peace & Quiet
In recent times issues such as climate change, deforestation, and species extinction have dominated the global conversation around the environment. However, one area that doesn't get talked about often enough is noise pollution and the impact of man-made sounds.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, its that sometimes you just need some peace and quiet. For the majority of human history, silence was a fact of everyday life. Your soundtrack was the ebb and flow of nature, birds singing, leaves crunching underfoot and the wind blowing through the trees. Even in the noisiest of places such as jungles and rivers, peace and quiet would never be far away. It is undeniable that our brains have evolved to inhabit this sonic world. However, as we continue to distance ourselves from nature and the sonic world that we are attuned to, there is a danger that we are damaging our own mental and physical well-being.
The fact that sonic warfare exists shows us the profound and visceral effect that sound has on our bodies and minds. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution through to modern consumer capitalism, we have built a world in which it is increasingly difficult to escape the constant barrage of man-made sound. To live in a 21st-century city is to bathe in an oppressive torrent of traffic, construction, and electrical hum. A constant background assault on our minds and ears that the brain has not evolved to cope with. It is easy to imagine the negative effect this has on our stress levels.
We must ask ourselves what kind of world do we want to inhabit, and what do we want that world to sound like? Animals such as whales, dolphins, and bats rely on sound for navigation, hunting, and social interactions. Their entire physiology is specially adapted to a sonic world that we are rapidly invading. We do not yet fully understand the impact of man-made sounds is having on our own species, let alone the impact on these animals and their habitats. It would, therefore, make sense to tread with extreme caution.
Keep the peace
When we think about conservation, we tend to picture endangered animals, exotic creatures and fragile ecosystems, but sound rarely comes into the picture. The intrinsic value of peace and quiet bares no price tag, but like any animal, the consequences of extinction are the same. Once it's gone we can never get it back. Sadly, we may be approaching a time where fewer and fewer people know what it's like to walk through a forest with only the sounds that nature has given us.
Ask yourself this. When was the last time that you heard nothing at all? Not the wisps of distant traffic, not the sound of construction or aircraft overhead. When was the last time you sat there in silence, truly alone with your thoughts? As climate change becomes an ever-important political issue, it is crucial that we fight to make noise pollution a prominent part of the conversation as well.
344 Audio is an Audio Post Production studio in Manchester.
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