While many of us are affected by the effects of masking, where loud noises such as traffic, music, or aircraft overflights interrupt our conversations, but what about the sounds we don't hear? Most of us are not familiar with the effects of noise underwater, where air guns, sonar, and shipping can reduce and even decimate the marine environment.
Seismic air guns, one major contributor to underwater noise, have been measured to produce sounds at 190 dB. Compared to a jet takeoff at 140 dB? This is unheard of in the human environment, and not just because you can't hear it. Even the Krakatoa eruption, which was heard nearly 3,000 miles away, was only 180 dB! Try talking over that!
Protect marine wildlife. Join the movement today at Oceancare.org.
Light pollution is all around us—in our cities, in our skies, even in our eyes. Neon signs blaring with messages trying to catch our attention, headlights shining in your rear-view mirror, street lamps with a glare that goes for miles. Why is all this light necessary? Truth be told, it isn't. Much of the light around you is going to waste, dispersed into the sky where it doesn't do any good. In fact, it does quite a bit of damage. Many animals, including birds, bats, and sea turtles, rely on dark skies to orient themselves and often move toward light sources which are artificial, not natural. The International Dark-Sky Association, or IDA, is one of many organizations facilitating a transition toward an environment-friendly, economy-friendly skyscape. The installation of IDA-approved light fixtures can save millions of dollars per year, not to mention improving the stargazing opportunities and protecting otherwise vulnerable wildlife. In contrast with other types of pollution, such as noise pollution, it is much easier to adjust policy and practice in such a way that light pollution can be significantly reduced. Get involved with your community, send them to the IDA, and save money while saving the skies.
Special thanks to ZocDoc for providing this infographic on noise pollution. As noise pollution becomes more prevalent, hopefully we will start to see more political action moving toward the protection of natural soundscapes and the environments they are critical to. As for now, this should illustrate the impact noise is having on your life, and what you can do to protect against it.
Soundscapes consist of natural sounds as well as noises (unwanted sounds) present in an environment. This includes weather, animals, running water, geological shifts and other natural sounds, in addition to the anthropogenic, or man-made noise caused by machinery, motor vehicles, and airplanes.
Soundscapes are unique in that they are defined according to what is heard. For instance, when jet overflights mask the sound of chirping crickets, the crickets are removed from the soundscape until they are once again audible. This also means that the soundscape varies by location, with short movements within an environment sometimes drastically altering the perceptible sounds.
As noise pollution becomes more prevalent, masking reduces the area in which natural sounds can be heard. The results for animals include mating calls being less likely to be heard, decreased capacity to avoid predators, and a lowered sensitivity to the territory of other animals.
For visitors to natural environments, such as National Parks. the acoustic environment or soundscape is an important motivation. Noisy streets and the bustle of everyday life can quickly become overwhelming, and visits to natural locations have been shown to reduce stress levels and improve focus.