Ok, the pic is a Final Fantasy joke, but Bernie Krause, a field recording scientist, reckons that the sounds made by human machinery are buggering around with animal communication.
This isn’t just a matter of aesthetics. The contamination of biophony may soon become a serious environmental issue — Krause says that man-made sounds are already wreaking havoc with animal communication. We worry about the carbon emissions from SUVs and airplanes; maybe we should be equally concerned about the racket they cause.
The reason for this, says Krause, is that in the animal world, each animal species uses a separate accoustic spectrum. This way, other species don’t use a given accoustic spectrum and muck up whatever communication is happening in that spectrum. However, when you introduce man-made noises into the mix, animals get confused, and can’t make themselves heard. This, he says, is part of the cause of dropping numbers of biodiversity in the world.
So how can it be fixed?
Perhaps we should be developing not just clean tech but “quiet” tech, industrial machinery designed to run as silently as possible. More regulations could help, too. Cities have long had noise ordinances; wilderness areas could benefit from tighter protections as well.
And interestingly enough:
Last year, Krause brought biophony to the masses by creating an extraordinarily cool add-on for Google Earth. Download it from his WildSanctuary.com site and you can click on dozens of locations worldwide to hear snippets of their soundscape.
Excuse me while I go download the add-on!