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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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

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Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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