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Monday, October 30, 2006

One Square Inch of Silence

Gordon Hempton is an acoustic ecologist. His mission is to protect nature from man-made sound. All of us have had the experience of a noisy park: airplanes, traffic, boomboxes, construction and people noise. But how many of us have experienced a place devoid of this kind of noise in nature? One where you could actually hear a leaf drop or a frog jump into a small pond?

Hempton has placed a small rock at a remote spot in the Hoh Rain Forest in Washington (in the USA). He calls it "one square inch of silence". He believes quiet is going extinct and that if we can find a quiet place, we should hold on to it.

According to the story from the Associated Press where I learned about Gordon Hempton's efforts, the national parks have recently released a draft general management plan that includes goals and strategies for protecting natural quiet and soundscapes. Hempton believes the plan does not go far enough. Because the national parks are under a very tight budget squeeze, he believes acoustic engineering for the parks will never be a high priority. He has an hourlong recording of soundscapes from the park available on iTunes and on his website to raise money for a nonprofit organization to help pay for monitoring of the site(s).

The three noisiest parks in the US are the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and the Hawaii volcanoes, mostly because of aerial tourism.

For more information or to make a donation, visit his website at http://www.onesquareinch.org/

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