A very apt retort, Bernie! It does indeed depend on which side of the
cannon one is standing!
The British "Royal Air Force" (RAF) uses the Lake District to practice
low-flying combat manoeuvres and "dog-fight" tactics. They are
supposed to maintain an altitude of 250 feet above the terrain but I
have been on the hills literally dozens of times when fighter planes
have been banking hard and flying so low I could easily see the
pilot's facial features if his visor was up! One such low-pass on
England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike, caused my grandfather to
fall - so intense was the noise - it overwhelmed his ears' ability to
maintain balance and orientation, and could easily have been fatal up
there. This disorienting effect is immediately apparent when watching
birds and the hardy "Herdwick" sheep which graze on the hill-tops.
They all scatter, bolting away from the noise in all directions. Some
animal deaths do happen when scared, disoriented animals run the wrong
way, their senses overwhelmed by the jet noise in this rugged terrain.
In Britain the 5th November, as some of you will know, is "Bonfire
night" or "Guy Fawkes night". This is the anniversary of the day in
1605 when a man named Guy Fawkes and other conspirators plotted to
blow up the Houses of Parliament in London using 36 barrels of
gunpowder. They came very close to succeeding but the barrels were
discovered in cellars beneath Parliament just in time. In
commemoration we have big fireworks displays all over the country on
that day each year. I went out in my back garden to watch the
displays, but could not enjoy it and soon had to go back inside
because of the yelps from neighbours' pets and cries from roosting
birds after every single firework. Some people I know give their pets
sedatives in the late afternoon or early evening but sheep, cows,
horses, and the myriad natural species are not so fortunate. I was
feeling quite fragile anyway last night and could not bear to stay out
amongst those traumatic vocalisations. However I am already planning a
trip out next year to record as much of these vocalisations as I can
and hopefully learn something about the stresses felt by animals and
birds during and after the firework displays.
PS. I'll discuss the all-weather microphone housing in a separate post.
--- In Bernie Krause <> wrote:
> Funny you should mention soundscapes and war, Colin. It brings to mind =
> two comments made by American powers that be. The first, by James
> Watt, Secretary of the Interior under Reagan, who once said: "Noise is =
> power. The more noise we make the more powerful we will appear to be
> to the rest of the world." This set the stage for the next
> philosophical level. I was at a National Park Service soundscape
> meeting in DC in late 2001 just before the Bush administration took
> office. We were discussing impacts of noise on wildlife when at one
> point a biologist from Aberdeen Proving Grounds (US Army, Maryland)
> spoke of tests he was running with different types of noise to scare
> birds from the runways at the site. During that discussion he
> addressed his experience with the impact noise of cannons. "While they =
> didn't particularly work too well," he began, "one of the women
> biologists on the site (echoing Watt) said, "Why, yes. And the sound
> of cannons is the sound of freedom." At which point I stood up and
> responded, "Indeed. And doesn't it depend on which side of the cannon =
> one is standing?"
> I have plenty of examples of military jet fly-bys over high desert
> areas affecting the biophony profoundly and causing predation on
> already seriously threatened amphibian (Spadefoot Toad) populations in =
> the eastern high Sierras.
> On Nov 6, 2008, at 3:07 PM, colinbox wrote:
> > From "the other side of the pond" here in Britain (and all over the
> > world I'm sure) there is now a new sense of optimism and hope. Well
> > done Americans! I for one am still shedding tears of joy!
> > Aside from the obvious, few existing US government policies have
> > angered us outside America as much as the desecration of the
> > environment and denial of responsibility for the impact of those
> > policies. From a recordists perspective the environment is the focus
> > of our passion, and the new administration cannot fail to have a more
> > sympathetic approach to the natural world we recordists love so much!
> > Bernie, you asked for ideas on other natural soundscape issues... I
> > feel there is one subject which dwarfs every other, though it may be
> > deemed too contentious for discussion here. However, I feel we must be
> > brave enough to at least raise the subject: Surely no other human
> > activity has such an immediate and catastrophic impact on soundscapes
> > as war... Does anyone else feel this subject deserves discussion -
> > here or elsewhere? I do not wish to to offend anyone (or promote any
> > specific cause) so a separate group seems the only sensible route for
> > discussion - e-mail me with ideas please (off-group is probably best).
> > I have no doubt that soundscapes globally will benefit from the next
> > US administration. In a very real sense the changes on Capitol Hill
> > will inevitably have an impact on the natural world and every
> > recording we make - wherever we are. As others have pointed out,
> > without subjects, the best equipment in the world will not deliver you
> > a recording!
> > Colin
> > --- In Volker Widmann <volwid@>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > I still remain somewhat irrationally optimistic.
> > > Instead of falling into deep despair I simply act on the maxim,
> > that I
> > > you want people to follow a certain path there is no other way
> > > convincing them but to arouse their hearts with love for the aim
> > that
> > > you have in mind.
> > > And this leads us nature recordists to what we are doing.
> > > This is what our commitment to society should be.
> > > So we definitely are not a bunch of techno weirdos prowling in the
> > > woods, bogs and fens, but we are Arousers of Love for the voices
> > of the
> > > other beings that are with us on this earth.
> > > That is quite some task, but I love it! I can't think of anything
> > better
> > > to do.
> > >
> > >
> > > Volker
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Walter Knapp schrieb:
> > > >
> > > > Posted by: "Bernie Krause"
> > > > >
> > > > > Just remember ol' bean, now the real work begins. We all gotta =
> > get
> > > > > directly and intimately involved in issues that we hold near and
> > dear.
> > > > > There's just too much destruction and deconstruction over the =
> > past
> > > > > three decades to overcome and to hold one person responsible
> > for.
> > > > > For those who wish to address the ArcticNWR, for instance,
> > perhaps
> > > > > it's time to form a pro-active team, create a protection model =
> > based
> > > > > on our particular area of expertise, and present it and
> > ourselves to
> > > > > the administration as a responsible group to lead the way. If =
> > there
> > > > > are other issues we wish to address re the natural soundscape
> > effort:
> > > > > ditto. Anyone got any thoughts?
> > > >
> > > > Without human population control you are fooling yourself. Any
> > minor
> > > > improvement you might make will simply be overrun by increasing
> > > > population.
> > > >
> > > > Walt
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
"While a picture is worth a thousand words, a
sound is worth a thousand pictures." R. Murray Schafer via Bernie Krause
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