News / Science & Technology

Human Impact Muffles Mother Nature's Voice

Oil development could threaten Timber Lake in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the world’s remaining wild places. (Bernie Krause)
Oil development could threaten Timber Lake in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the world’s remaining wild places. (Bernie Krause)
TEXT SIZE - +
Rosanne Skirble
Bernie Krause records Mother Nature. During the past 40 years, the musician and naturalist has amassed 4,000 hours of natural soundscapes featuring the voices of 15,000 species, half of which can no longer be heard because of noise pollution and human activity.  

Whether it's the driving rain in a tropical storm, the scream of a mountain gorilla or the jolt of a snow mobile engine against the winter silence, Krause has recorded it all.

In his new book, “The Great Animal Orchestra,”  Krause takes us on a journey into the world’s wild places to hear this  tapestry of sound.
Human Impact Muffles Mother Nature's Voice
Human Impact Muffles Mother Nature's Voicei
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X


“The insects sing in one niche in a given habitat, birds in another, reptiles, amphibians and mammals all find their own niches to sing so that they stay out of each other’s way,” he says. “It is not so much a single voice as much as it is the collective voices that appear. The ones that amaze me the most are the ones that are mostly in the equatorial regions of the world and the rainforests of the world and the deserts of the world because they are so cohesive and structured.”

In one passage, Krause journeys several kilometers from his camp in the Amazon jungle in Brazil to record the night ambiance.  
Bernie Krausehas recorded more than 15,000 species and 4,000 hours of wild soundcapes. (Tim Chapman)Bernie Krausehas recorded more than 15,000 species and 4,000 hours of wild soundcapes. (Tim Chapman)
x
Bernie Krausehas recorded more than 15,000 species and 4,000 hours of wild soundcapes. (Tim Chapman)
Bernie Krausehas recorded more than 15,000 species and 4,000 hours of wild soundcapes. (Tim Chapman)

“I had no sooner set up my mic and sat down at the other end of the cable, 30 feet away [9.1 meters] when I turned on my recorder and heard this jaguar, which had followed us and had stepped right up to the mic and like a great singer, began to growl right in the mic. There it was establishing its own niche and territory, vocally.”

Krause has worked on every continent. His immense sound archive includes such distinct voices as the whistle-like melody of the Musical wren from Peru, and mating gibbons at dawn in Indonesia.  

“They sing these wonderful duets that inspire the Dayak to sing in duets as well," he says. "The Dayak are a tribe that lives in Borneo, and the Dayak think of the songs of the gibbons as so beautiful that it causes the sun to rise in response.”

But species like these are threatened by logging, urban development and a changing climate. Krause recorded the impact of this loss near Lincoln Meadow, a pristine landscape in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

“I recorded in 1988 and was told by a logging company there that they were going to do selective logging that summer and that it would have absolutely no impact on the wildlife. I said, 'Fine. Let me record, I would like to see from a recording perspective what is happening.'”
Without human interference, Chernobyl sounds like a healthy landscape twenty years after the nuclear disaster. (Peter Cusack)Without human interference, Chernobyl sounds like a healthy landscape twenty years after the nuclear disaster. (Peter Cusack)
x
Without human interference, Chernobyl sounds like a healthy landscape twenty years after the nuclear disaster. (Peter Cusack)
Without human interference, Chernobyl sounds like a healthy landscape twenty years after the nuclear disaster. (Peter Cusack)

And, when he returned, Krause says the decline was obvious. “And what has happened is that even though they have only taken out a tree here and there, it is remarkable because the soundscape has changed. And even though I have gone back 15 times over the last 15 years, it still has not come back to the original power of its voice.”    
       
While landscapes are vanishing, Krause sees hope in even the most desolate places, like Chernobyl, the site of a nuclear meltdown in Ukraine in 1986. He says a recording made 20 years later shows “what can happen if humans are not around to interfere and it has come back despite all the radiation that is there.”  

Krause says his work is a call to protect wild places. “The most important lesson I have ever learned is that this may be our last chance to hear the voice of the divine because that sound to me is the voice of the divine.”    

Krause says our impact on the natural world is profound, and unless we pay attention to its creatures, we will silence Mother Nature’s Great Animal Orchestra.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid