Silent Soundscapes

According to some scientists and this article, our soundscape is decreasing in sound. All the sounds we are used to hearing when outside the chirping of the nearby birds, the sound of the wind rustling the branches of trees are no more, and it is our fault. Our increasing human interferences has depleted the soundscape of its variety of sounds like the howls of wolves. Bernie Krause is the creator of the field of study known as “soundscape ecology”. This field specifically studies sounds produced by organisms in a particular landscape. This all from his recently written book: Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes. Dr. Krause claims that a soundscape can tell apart the differences in landscapes in part due to specific sounds heard. One of  the examples he mentions is the change in sound when trees were felled in Nevada, after he came back and recorded the soundscape again; he found that there were less birds heard chirping. He says there are three different sources sound is divided into: goephony (wind in the trees), biophony (birds chirping), and anthropophony (humans). Krause says “I’ve been astonished to realize that over half of the places I’ve recorded in five decades no longer support enough living organisms to generate a cohesive biophony. They’re either totally silent, or so compromised by human endeavor that the natural soundscapes are unrecognizable.” It is really unfortunate that our impact has been so detrimental, however, it is really fascinating that all this information can be found from sounds alone. If only we were better listeners.

Dr. Bernie Krause recording the soundscape.

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