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)
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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid