Listen to Sounds of Silence

“One of the ways we stay in touch with the rest of the earth is through silence,” says acoustic ecologist, Gordon Hempton in his book, One Square Inch of Silence. The book is about his quest to create that much space for silence in Olympic National Park, WA.

Hempton defines silence as “free of human caused noise.” His story begins in Olympic National Park where he lives and he records decibels at points along his travel route across the country to Washington, DC in an attempt to document the need for regulations that protect silent spaces in our national parks. It is a call to each of us to listen to all the sounds of silence, the drips on leaves, the wind passing through different trees, coyotes, bees, nut gatherers, falling snow…., for our own well-being.

His sound videos taken in different parts of the country are on the internet. I listened to “Forest Rain” which immediately put me back in our tent by the lake and the wonder of hearing rain and all the peeps of frogs and birds luxuriating in the rain as well. It is a profoundly relaxing sound video.

Significant causes of health problems, according to Stansfeld and Matheson’s report, “Noise Pollution: non-auditory effects on Health” in the Oxford Medical and Surgical Case Reports, are aircraft and road traffic noise. This noise impairs reading comprehension, long term memory, and cognitive performance in children. Noise stress may also be associated with high blood pressure and other stress-related conditions.

This key to silence is an important key we need to use to save our well-being on this earth, especially with attention to how we access the electrical energy we need. We could simplify our choices of allowable energy forms based on how much noise new sources generate during building and maintenance of the energy in question.

Tesla Motors is developing a home battery for Solar home electrical backup, eliminating the need to be at the mercy of power companies for compensation of surplus energy produced.

While it is encouraging to see more solar energy applications quietly helping to meet our needs, we in NH will hopefully see the 9 million dollars the legislature set aside for the development of renewable forms of energy that are also in harmony with our environment.

My concern with the Northern Pass project is the noise level generated by industrial equipment brought in to tear up forestland and build 500 miles of access roads in order to build the line and for routine and after-storm maintenance if the project is completed. The noise would be ongoing in forests people come to for R&R.

Having destroyed their once lucrative forest tourism and fishing industries in Quebec with their noisy dams and power lines, Hydro Quebec stands poised to do the same to NH despite doubletalk about having plenty of energy.

Governor Hassan (603-271-2121) and our legislators need to know that we expect the 9 million earmarked for renewable energy development to be used as intended. If you live in other states, consider contacting your legislators. Our health and well-being depend on it..

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