The Fruits of Civilization – Noise


“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.” ~ German French sculptor, painter, and poet Jean Arp

People make a terrible racket with their clamorous machines. The effect is unnerving. Traffic, airplanes, and other hubbub take a significant toll on nearby animals, humans included. Noise lessens the quality of life and lifespan for all within earshot.

As you raise background sound levels it has the same effect on your hearing that fog has on your vision. ~ American bio-acoustical ecologist Kurt Fristrup

Much of the wild is disquiet, but animals evolved in these habitats, and so are accustomed to living amid Nature’s own cacophony. In contrast, the sonic bedlam of humans ladles tremendous tension.

Noise is an imposition on sanity, and we live in very noisy times. ~ American musician Joan Baez

Artificial noises don’t just confuse and distress: they drown out what animals need to hear to survive. Predators have trouble finding prey. Prey cannot hear approaching predators. Songs of love are lost, and thereby the prospects for future generations.

 Undersea Noise

“Natural underwater sound is used by many animals to find suitable habitat, and traffic noise is one of the most widespread pollutants.” ~ English zoologist Sophie Nedelec

Sound travels better underwater than in the air. The quality of the acoustic environment is important to aquatic life. Fish use sound cues to navigate, and to woo mates. Noise from boats can lead fry astray, and so lessen their chances for survival.

All sorts of sea life are harmed by acoustic pollution. Aquatic lives are recklessly lost or ruined by noisy men.

 Navy Sonar

The US Navy does not care about the damage it does to life in the oceans. For decades, the Navy has heedlessly deafened dolphins and whales by blasting its sonar at frequencies known to inflict pain.

“If you deafen a marine mammal for even a short period time, you are affecting its ability to survive.” ~ American environmental scientist Michael Jasny

Cetaceans may go mad trying to get away the terrible noise. Many have beached themselves to end the agony.

“The U.S. Navy could use a number of proven methods to avoid harming whales when testing mid-frequency sonar. Protecting whales and preserving national security are not mutually exclusive.” ~ American environmental scientist Fred O’Regan

The Navy acknowledges that it has killed tens of thousands of marine mammals with its sonar. The US Supreme Court found that quite alright, ruling that the Navy could do as it pleased.

“The most serious possible injury would be harm to an unknown number of marine mammals. The overall public interest tips strongly in favor of the Navy.” ~ US Supreme Court in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council (2008)


The American Navy is not alone in killing sea life with noise. Commercial surveyors – looking for oil, gas, or mineral reserves – use underwater air guns that deafen and kill all manner of marine creature.

Whether over land or in the seas, the cumulative effect of noise is to unbalance the ecosystem. The roar of modern humanity is a raspberry of disdain to life.

noise, n. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization.” ~ American writer Ambrose Bierce in Devil’s Dictionary (1911)