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How have sounds changed around us

Listening is the way of being with the world and being with others. It is one of the most important ways to know the world and the human-built environment around us. Normally we human beings identify ourselves as superior beings with brains running the world. But when one looks closely, one would realize that we are nothing but a tiny part of this entire world. When we listen carefully to the vibrations that we feel around us, it is listening to those vibrations only that connect us to the environment.

In our everyday environment, we are surrounded by an endless array of vibrations called “sounds”.

Go outside of your house, and all you get to hear today is the sound of a car approaching from behind, honking, phones ringing, loudspeakers playing, or aircrafts flying. Noise, noise, and noise everywhere! Unlike decades ago, where the sounds that reached our ears were the sounds of leaves falling, the sound of air, running water, and birds chirping. These sounds that we hear today are extraneous sounds, otherwise known as “noise or human-made noise” that have started to pollute our natural spaces, making the natural sounds go unnoticed.

Though humans are the extreme species that exist on Earth, there are other species that use sound to communicate. The sounds from trickling streams to singing birds or from traffic to machinery – add together to form a unique soundscape, a fingerprint of the habitat in its current state.

But who cares whether the world sounds pleasant or not? Because all we care about is our lives and if something unpleasant approaches our ears we humans unlike animals, can put on some earplugs, close the window or turn off the music to avoid it. The impact of such noises is enormous, especially in the case of animals. It can affect an animal’s ability to hear or make it difficult to find food, locate mates and avoid predators. It can also impair their ability to navigate, communicate, reproduce and participate in everyday behaviours.

Now, this brings us to our question: What has forced our world to sound so different?

We humans—the deceiving superior species on the Earth have developed brains to create a high-tech, complex world that many of us live in. Still we do not seem to have developed the vision to see and think about the consequences of our selfish and irresponsible motives which have destroyed the natural world. With our self-appointed dominance of the planet, we have forgotten to take responsibility for the same.

The change in how the world sounds today as compared to what it used to sound years ago is huge. Its impact on animals and us go unnoticed by all of us. But it is time that we pay attention to it because our hearing tells us that sound plays a crucial role in signifying the environment if and only we LISTEN to it. It is a powerful indicator of environmental degradation.

Two out of the three Gandhi’s proverbial monkeys tell us to speak no evil, hear no evil, and that stands true even in the case of environment and nature. So, let us no more allow ourselves to produce or hear those noises that pollute our natural spaces. Instead, let us take sustainable measures to conserve our nature so that our world can sound better again. And we can hand over a better environment to our future generation and not the environment that is a victim of our selfish attitude.

It is time we become conscious of what we listen to around us and focus on making our world sound better for us and the species that our planet is home to. Here is to bringing back our natural sounds and listening better!

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