Are humans too noisy for the rest of the world?

You've heard the question before. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" But here's something else to consider: how come nobody ever asks what the trees can hear?

The new question we're dealing with is this: can you pick a spot in the US where you can escape from any and all ambient human noise? According to a recent story by NPR's Amelia Templeton, you may have a harder time with this challenge than you think:

Researchers at Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon have spent the past two years documenting the park's natural sound. Often, microphones will pick up the sound of falling trees, elks snacking and coyotes howling.

In even the most remote parts of the park, however, researchers are also hearing airplane noise 15 percent of the time.

Setting up temporary recording stations in 20 different locations, technicians say that there's virtually no place left in America that's untouched by ambient human noise - and that this may be stressful to wildlife.


According to Templeton, the project at Crater Lake is part of a larger effort by the national park service to document the extent of human-caused noise — a problem which, like climate change, "the national parks can't just fence out."

Read more about the impact of human noise pollution on wildlife at NPR

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