Most of us live in cities and have lost touch with the natural sights and sounds in the world. Do you remember what it’s like to walk out your door and hear nothing but the buzz of a bumblebee nearby, the call of a mourning dove, the happy chirping of a robin, the quiet chewing of a deer munching nearby, and hummingbirds playing in the trees?
I believe that humans are so out of touch with the natural soundscape we have not only forgotten what the world is supposed to sound like, we’ve forgotten how to enjoy the quiet of the natural world. So often now-a-days, I go for a hike, and pass by hikers who either are listening to music on head phones, or are blaring music from a small speaker they carry with them. It’s almost as if these poor people have become so used to human-generated sound, they can no longer bear to listen to the quiet.
We are a singularly destructive species: we destroy habitat wherever we go, and along with that habitat the countless species and the sounds they make. It hurts my heart every day to think about what we are losing on this precious planet.
Bernie Krause has been recording wild soundscapes — the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds, the subtle sounds of insect larvae — for 45 years. In that time, he has seen many environments radically altered by humans, sometimes even by practices thought to be environmentally safe. His 2013 TED talk is a surprising look at what we can learn through nature’s symphonies, from the grunting of a sea anemone to the sad calls of a beaver in mourning.