Escaping the Noise

Imagine a winter walk through the woods. Not another soul in sight. You are walking among the bare trees, a carpet of fallen leaves underfoot. The air is crisp and cool. You spot a bird flitting from tree to tree, and as you follow it deeper down the trail, your ears are met with….a high-pitched metallic screeching sound, which continues incessantly for the next half hour. 

When we think about pollution, we tend to think about the things we can see: trash along the roadside, smog, oil spills, and so on. Noise pollution may sound like a frivolous concern, or maybe something that was made up by that cranky neighbor who just wants the kids across the street to keep it down. Unfortunately, it is a very real thing, and noise pollution is a problem not just for urban parks, but has even permeated our national protected lands. Studies show that noise pollution can have a negative impact on human health, and for animals, it can be a matter of survival. Think of birds, using their songs to communicate with each other and find mates. What happens if that song can no longer be heard?

This article from NPR highlights the results of a recent study on noise pollution in our national parks. This issue will likely only grow as our cities continue to expand, so it is good to see research being done and conversations happening on how to address it. 

This was not the blog post I wanted to write today. I had every intention of writing about the importance of green spaces in urban areas, but the truth is that I wasn’t refreshed by stepping outside today. Sometimes appreciating nature means that we also have to take a hard look (and listen) to how we are treating it. 

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