COVID-19 has caused the greatest reduction in noise pollution ever recorded in human history

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken hundreds of thousands of lives and devastated the global economically. However, there have been a few positive unintended environmental consequences created by the virus.

Reports show there has been a significant reduction in climate-change creating greenhouse gasses in the first half of 2020. A newly-released report has found that human-generated noise pollution is down by up to 50% as well.

The research published in the journal Science was led by Dr. Thomas Lecocq and Dr Koen Van Noten of the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels and involved 76 authors from 66 institutions in 27 countries.


Seismologists believe this period may be the quietest since humans have been able to measure noise pollution and have dubbed it the "anthropause."

These scientists measure seismic waves to detect earthquakes and volcanic activity, but have to consider in the rumble of human activity caused by traffic, construction, and even sporting events, to get accurate information.

via Science

To assess the reduction in human-generated noise pollution, the researchers looked at 268 seismic stations around the world and found that 69% of them showed "showed significant reductions in human-caused noise."

The researchers also noticed a wave of sound reduction that began in China, then moved towards Western Europe, mirroring the progress of COVID-19 earlier this year.

"We were able to clearly link reductions in activity with lower seismic noise readings," Professor Martha Savage, a geology academic from New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington who was involved in the study, said according to Vice.

The change in the global audio-environment revealed that human-generated noise pollution travels much further into the Earth than previously thought. A a seismometer placed 380 meters underground near Auckland, New Zealand showed that activity had been reduced by 50% during lock down.

via Science

The changes in global noise pollution due to COVID-19 highlight a growing global problem. Studies show that humans who live or work in loud environments are more susceptible to high blood pressure, heart disease and low birth weight.

"What we're doing to our soundscape is littering it. It's aural litter—acoustical litter—and, if you could see what you hear, it would look like piles and piles of McDonald's wrappers, just thrown out the window as we go driving down the road," Les Blomberg, the founder and executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, told the New Yorker.

A study by the WHO found that noise pollution in western Europe leads to the annual loss of "at least one million healthy years of life."

Research on the effect of noise pollution on the animal kingdom is in its infancy stages but preliminary work shows it to be a threat to the survival of countless species. For example, fish larvae are able to find their homes through the sounds of coral reefs, this can be disrupted by noise pollution.

Owls and bats use acoustic signals to locate prey which can be disrupted by noise generated by human activity. The ubiquity of noise pollution has caused some species to relocate to live in quieter environments, effecting the biological richness that is vital to the ecological health of the planet.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unquestionably devastating for humanity. But if there is a silver lining to be found in the crisis, it's that it's given us a vision of the world that is healthier for the entire animal kingdom.

Hopefully, this vision can will be taken into consideration by those in power as we rebuild the world when the virus subsides.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.