Friday, November 03, 2006

The sounds of solitude

As a bad DSL modem left me cut off from the internet world this week, I thought about how difficult it is to cut yourself off from the modern world, even when you want to. Many of us use parks to seek solitude and escape from the artificial stress of modern society. This solitude is often interrupted by the intrusive sounds of man made machines, such as RV generators, snowmobiles, and airplanes.

Gordon Hempton's One Square Inch of Silence project seeks to protect solitude by reducing man made intrusive noises within our parks. Hempton has declared a one square inch spot within Olympic National Park as the quietest place in the United States. When the solitude at this spot is interrupted by a man made noise, such as a commercial airline flying over head, Hempton contacts the source of the noise and asks that they avoid this area. Hempton believes that protecting the solitude of this single spot will effectively protect a huge area within the park.

One Square Inch of Silence was designated on Earth Day 2005 (April 22, 2005) to protect and manage the natural soundscape in Olympic Park's backcountry wilderness. The logic is simple; if a loud noise, such as the passing of an aircraft, can impact many square miles, then a natural place, if maintained in a 100% noise-free condition, will also impact many square miles around it. It is predicted that protecting a single square inch of land from noise pollution will benefit large areas of the park.
I applaud (golf clap), Hempton's effort to protect the solitude within our parks. I can recall trips through the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park where I did not see another human for days, yet my desert solitude was frequently interrupted by the annoying sound of a 747 streaking across the sky 10,000 feet above a desert floor.

No comments: