This recent article in the London Times is a great read for those of us interested in natural quiet and the effects of humans sounds on people. Helen Rumbelow was sent on a seasonal assignment by her editor: find a place in the England where one might experience a “silent night.” She travels to places recommended on the official UK Noise Map, visits researchers, and reflects on her own quest to find quiet. It written in a light, amusing tone and well worth a read. Among the more sober point made by those she visited:
- Deepak Prasher, Emeritus Professor of Audiology at University College London, a world expert on noise nuisance and health, reminds us that ” if noise is continuous it places great stress on the body. People think they adapt but actually all that happens is they get used to the idea of living within noise. Their body doesn’t get used to it…We need to have an awareness that noise isn’t good for us. We have acknowledged it for air pollution but noise pollution goes together with that.”
- Professor Jian Kang of Sheffield University notes that among visitors to the Sheffield Peace Garden, those with a university education found it noisier than those without, a point that is part of a larger trend: “Reducing noise gets more important as affluence increases,” says Kang. “Many years ago, noise was regarded as a sign of development and was therefore tolerated as something from which we all benefited.” In countries that are still growing apace, such as Kang’s native China, they are still as tolerant of mechanical noise as we were in the 1960s. But in the West, our sense of beneficial connection to such noise has been broken.