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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

The Unseen Dangers of Noise Pollution

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Noise pollution, by definition, consists of unwanted and disturbing sounds that may negatively impact the quality of life. Common sources include railroads, automobiles, aircraft, shipping, amplified music, construction sites, factories, and power plants – in other words, human activity.

Not all beings are sensitive to the same frequencies. Frequencies below 20 hertz are called infrasound, while those above 20,000 hertz are referred to as ultrasound. The lower and upper limits of hearing vary by species. Some of my larger fellow co-inhabitants, such as elephant-, hippo-, whale-, and octopus-people communicate using infrasound. Much of the noise pollution produced by humans is below 20 hertz, so even though they don’t hear it, it is disturbing to many animal-people.

Most animal-people produce sounds for communication. Aside from using sound to express themselves, some animal-people use it to see in the dark. By emitting a sound and then listening to its reflection, they can know the distance, direction, speed, size, and density of objects around them.

Since animal-people depend on sound for so many different things in their lives, it’s easy to understand how noise pollution would negatively affect their well-being. According to Dr. Guralnick, “Noise pollution reduces animal habitat and directly influences their fitness and ultimately their numbers. By doing so, it makes it harder for animals to survive.” The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in the US states that, for marine life, reflection seismology “is like a bomb repeatedly going off in their home every 10 seconds— a home they can’t flee.”

Despite the fact that noise pollution is invisible, it has tangible and harmful consequences. So, what can you do? You can help raise awareness. Whenever the opportunity arises, point out the sources and the effects of disturbing sounds on animal-people and humans. Also, please choose the quietest means of transport available. And wherever possible, plant more trees because they absorb sound vibrations and thus reduce noise.

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