Noise impacts the environment, humans and animals. Humans are such amazing creatures. We have come to understand our world in ways we didn’t think possible, and we have developed amazing technologies to make our lives easier. As our population grows, we look for new places to live and work, and that has an impact on the earth.
Most of us are aware of the damage and disruptions we cause to the natural environment, and we do our best to minimize the effect we have. We participate in recycling and conservation. But one thing we might not consider is how sound impacts the world.
One of the major causes of noise pollution are cities, but, outside of cities, in areas that are used for natural resource exploitation, noise is also a major issue. The equipment used to mine for natural gas, coal or various other materials that heat our homes, power our vehicles and help us develop other technologies, has an impact on the creatures around it.
Even in areas classified as nature reserves or protected areas, sound is still having an impact. This can be caused by airplanes and roads that allow us access to these pristine places. With more people traveling to experience nature, the greater the impact can be.
Sound is an everyday part of the world, and, even without humans in an area, there will be sound, from the wind and running streams to insects and animals. However, when the natural sounds are drowned out by human-made sounds, that’s when an issue is created.
How noise affects an ecosystem
Most animals are incredibly sensitive to noise and flee when something is too loud for their liking. Almost all wild animals have a survival instinct to run away when they hear something unfamiliar. To avoid noisy areas, animals change their behaviors. This can impact the predator-prey relationships in an area and change how plants are pollinated.
Mammals and large animals are not the only ones affected by noise pollution, insects can also be disrupted by it. Insects are a foundational part of any ecosystem, and, if their habits and behaviors are changed because of noise pollution, it can set off a chain reaction for the rest of the ecosystem.
This can lead to a reduction of certain species or an increase in others. In either case, if an imbalance occurs, it disrupts the natural order of an area. This can then have a ripple-effect that spreads to other areas around the world.
Noise pollution can even have an impact on humans who travel into nature to get away from the stresses of life. It can be hard to relax and enjoy natural sounds if you’re being bombarded by noise from vehicles, airplanes or mining equipment.
Ways to reduce the amount of noise pollution
If you’re living within a city or town, there are numerous ways to reduce noise pollution and how it impacts you, including:
- Using earplugs or noise canceling headphones
- Installing insulation and glass that reduces noise
- Sound proofing your space
- Turning off your electronic devices
- Moving to a quiet space
In nature, it’s not quite as easy to reduce the amount of noise that occurs, and it’s actually slightly difficult to study how much noise is caused in and impacts certain areas. One of the first steps to fixing the problem is being aware that it is occurring.
Reducing the amount of traffic on roads in protected wildlife areas could have a positive impact on the amount of noise in the area, which can then be beneficial to the animals.
For areas with mining equipment and compressors, some of which can emit sounds up to 85 decibels, it might be beneficial to reduce the amount of noise by placing the equipment in a soundproof enclosure, wrapping it in sound blankets and ensuring the equipment is maintained and in good working order.
Unfortunately, our world is noisy, and we’re never going to have complete silence — but most of us wouldn’t want that either. We have to find a balance between what is natural and tolerable for both humans and animals and work to ensure noise disruptions are kept to a minimum.
This is a guest post written by Bobbi Peterson.
Bobbi Peterson is a green living and environmental writer. She regularly posts about sustainability and simple living on her blog, Living Life Green. You can find more from Bobbi on Twitter.