Noisy Humans: Man-Made Clatter Muffles Nature’s Chorus

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Kurt Fristrup, a senior scientist at the U.S. National Park Service, says that noise pollution is becoming so pervasive that people are tuning out the natural sounds around them. According to new research, when we leave home, we’re more likely to try ignoring man-made sounds than enjoying Mother Nature’s chorus.

“We are conditioning ourselves to ignore the information coming into our ears,” Fristrup says. The real loss, he believes, is for future generations. “If finding peace and quiet becomes difficult enough, many children will grow up without the experience, and I think it’s a very real problem.”

He and National Park Service colleagues have monitored sound levels at more than 600 sites over the past 10 years and found that none were free of human noise pollution. The team’s model of merging data from more remote regions with urban areas gave them an overall sense of the noise pollution across the U.S. Based on their findings, the researchers believe that noise pollution will grow faster than the population, doubling every 30 years.

View a map of sound pollution at Tinyurl.com/SmithsonianSoundMap.

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