Since time immemorial, human settlements have established themselves around watercourses. Rivers...
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Noise is a sound and sound is a vibration that is measured in decibels.
These sounds are heard by our ear, which essentially consists of 3 parts: the outer ear (auricle and ear canal), the middle and inner ear; with the ‘border’ between the outer and the middle ear being the ear drum.
We now know that sounds are vibrations and that the ear is the ideal instrument to help us to interpret them. Here is a description of how it functions: the vibration is captured by the outer ear, which is ideally shaped to enhance understanding and localisation - it will then trace its path along the ear canal up to the ear drum.
The ear drum then oscillates as vibrations are received. Inside, the ear drum is connected to 3 bones, the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup (which is in fact the smallest bone in the human body!). The function of the middle ear is specifically to transform vibrations into ‘information’ which the inner ear can interpret (particularly through hair cells which, take note, are never replaced during the course of one’s life), then this information is sent to our brain via the auditory nerve.
In summary, an extraordinary, but fragile mechanism which can only be very partially repaired if it is damaged.
This case file with focus on noise pollution must therefore ‘make a big noise’, (a virtual noise, of course!) in order to emphasise the existence of this problem that hundreds of millions of our peers have to face on a daily basis.
Is noise a type of pollution?
When we ask people to describe what is pollution, they reply that it is the thick smoke that is emitted by factory chimneys, the gas that is emitted by vehicles and trucks, the oil slicks caused by petroleum, the radiation leakages during the accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima, the pesticides that contaminate our water tables, the litter that is invading the oceans, etc. but few people describe noise in their initial responses, therefore...
Therefore, when we ask the question, ‘What affects the quality of your life?’ (apart from economic issues), noise represents one of the main types of pollution which we have to tolerate on a daily basis, often constantly!
What is the current status?
The population explosion on earth (remember that the world population has almost quadrupled during the 20th century) has led to the development of cities, transport routes (roads, highways, railways, airports, etc.), industrial activities, power plants, etc.
This irrational growth has made it increasingly difficult to find peaceful areas, places where it is possible to hear nothing more than silence (this is related to light pollution that is generated by cities and which hides the stars from city dwellers - see http://fr.cyberdodo.com/dessins-animes/environnement/cyberdodo-et-l-energie-solaire.html), a peaceful, blissful silence that we need for our balance and particularly for a good night’s sleep.
Our civilisation seems to have become noisy by nature - do you know that our planet is under strain because it has to accommodate more than a billion cars, yes, you read it right, 1,000,000,000 vehicles since 2011! Each of these vehicles makes noise as it moves, consuming fuel, polluting the air and affecting our ears (See the case file with focus on urban pollution as well as the quiz to test your knowledge).
Rich countries provide a very bad example (to their own children, but also to developing countries that dream of imitating them) by confusing what is indispensable with what is superfluous, with the frenetic consumption of objects, equipment and other gadgets which they do not need at all and which plunder natural resources – resources that are not inexhaustible.
This frenetic consumption also generates noise, since each of the stages between the raw materials and the finished product will produce noise.
In order to understand this concept properly, let’s take for example one of the trusty companions of many teenagers (And also of adults, of course): the cell phone.
When you buy a cell phone, what do you think of?
Essentially, apart from its price and its performance, don’t forget... firstly there are different wrappings (plastic, cardboard box, paper, etc.) you will need to rip up so that you can access your wonderful new gadget as quickly as possible (wrappings which will need to be put in their respective separate bins) and often the thousands of tasks that need to be accomplished before you can joyfully hold it in your hands and inform your friends that: “Here it is, I have it, I’m so happy!”
How many parts does your cell phone have? Several hundreds, many are made of plastic and originate from petroleum, a non-renewable, polluting fossil resource. Other parts are made of metal: aluminium, copper, zinc, etc. even gold - these metals are extracted from mines.
The manufacture of each of these hundreds of parts requires the use of raw materials, machines, energy to produce them and generates different types of pollution including... noise! Consider this before you think of changing your cell phone...
Which health risks are brought about by noise pollution?
The use of the plural is important, because noise can have numerous negative consequences for our health; let’s start with the direct wear and tear caused to the ear canal, for example, by:
Listening to music at very high volumes (when you’re by yourself, at a party or at a concert)
Exposure to intense sounds (At the work place, etc.).
But noise does not only affect our ears, it also affects our wellbeing by causing an increase of blood pressure, stress, irritability; our concentration can also be affected (work, studies, etc.), as well as the quality of our sleep, which is so vital for our general balance, and which, if it is disrupted, can lead to the development of numerous complaints (some of them serious).
At the beginning of this third millennium, more than half of the population of our planet is living in cities where most of the time the noise level is too high, similar to serious pollution, because there are no periods of true calm, as a city never sleeps.
This noise is derived from several sources: automobile traffic, various activities, the neighbourhood, etc. and the fact that it is everywhere additionally complicates the search for efficient solutions to reduce this constant noise pollution.
Numerous surveys have shown that noise is regularly cited as the main inconvenience felt by city populations.
What if we contrast this onslaught of noise with a focus on the word ‘Respect‘?
What if a true right to quiet is granted to homo sapiens (Us!) in the 21st century?
What if each member of www.CyberDodo.org were to become an ardent promoter of this right?
In summary, as we have said in this case file, ‘make a virtual noise’ so that our living environment can become quieter!
To see the cartoon on sound pollution, click here
To do the quiz, click here
To play our games, many of which illustrate noisy activities, click here
© CyberDodo Productions Ltd.