by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
In this report from Positive.News, author Martin Wright discusses efforts to make cities and parks quieter. He mentions renting a farmhouse so he could concentrate on writing. When he returned the keys to the farmer, he said how nice the quiet was. The farmer told him the previous occupant had made a similar comment, praising the “quiet noise.”
Wright notes how cities, including Berlin and soon Limerick in Ireland, are using our noise colleague Dr. Antonella Radicchi’s Hush City app to find and preserve quiet spaces.
He also writes about Gordon Hempton’s Quiet Parks, Inc., helping keep national parks in several countries quiet. As Hempton noted, quiet is our birthright. Quiet should be for everyone. The National Park Service noise map shows that without anthropogenic noise, the environment is quiet.
We evolved in quiet. Loud noise indicated danger, causing a “fight or flight” physiologic response with involuntary increases in pulse, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels.
As Hempton observes, we don’t want silence. We want quiet.
Hempton tells Wright that it’s not about quiet at all costs. Rather, he says that it is about:
Allowing the sounds of nature, rather than machines, to dominate. You should be able to hear the rustle of leaves when the wind blows, the finer notes of a bird’s song. You should, he concludes, “be able to hear your footsteps.” Quiet noise, indeed.