'/> Uncommon Hours: "The Maddest Noise"
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"The Maddest Noise"


We wish the ear had not a heart
So dangerously near.

Emily Dickinson

Imagine an eruption of noise so loud and piercing that it makes your ears bleed, so disorienting that you might throw yourself off a cliff. Imagine such eruptions coming unpredictably, violently. The noise drives you to isolation; it disrupts your ability to communicate. The pain is unthinkable. The result is death.

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that it was okay for the Navy to continue shelling whales off the coast of southern California with just such noises from its mid-range frequency sonar.

According to a press release from the Natural Resouces Defense Council, “Many scientists believe that animals seen stranded on the beach represent only a small part of the technology’s toll, given that severely injured animals would rarely come to shore.”

The Court decided that the “public interest” came before the harm to marine life in the region.

Alas, we’re still a long way from regarding the species and creatures on this planet who are not us as fellow travelers.

The words of Aldo Leopold might as easily apply to the oceans as the land: “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

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