Noise Pollution Threatens Earth's Ecosystem

June 02, 2008 08:56 AM
by Colleen Brondou
Researchers investigate how noise pollution affects not only human health, but the natural environment as well.

30-Second Summary

Much has been documented about the growing epidemic of noise pollution and its impact on humans: hearing loss, stress and heart disease are just some of the health problems attributed to our increasingly noisy world.

But only recently are we beginning to recognize how noise—namely man-made noise from airplanes, cars and ocean liners—affects the rest of the world around us.

Clive Thompson, reporting for Wired Magazine, recently spoke with Bernie Krause, a field recording scientist. According to Krause, man-made noise is making it difficult for animals to communicate, so much so that mating calls and warning cries are being drowned out, and entire species are being displaced.

“We worry about the carbon emissions from SUVs and airplanes,” wrote Thompson, “maybe we should be equally concerned about the racket they cause.”

Krause isn’t the only one to notice the effects. In 2005, a research team from Cornell University found that noisy shipping traffic has impacted the ability of whales to navigate and communicate. And in 2007, a study was proposed to examine the effects of the more than 98,000 cars that file through Florida’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

“There’s the noise factor,” explained Mary Kay Cassani, an instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University, “and that disturbs the natural behavior patterns of the wildlife.”

Headline Links: ‘Man-Made Noise May Be Altering Earth’s Ecology’

Opinion & Analysis: Impacts of noise pollution on wildlife

Related Topics: Noise 'a growing public health hazard' for humans

Reference: A guide to environmental science


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