Bats are adapting their hunting strategies to the noise of our cities. The good news is that a study published in Science shows that bats appear to be successfully adapting to human noise. But as a researcher not involved in that study notes, “[s]ome animals probably can’t [adapt].” So what happens to them? And what about humans? As the world gets noisier, how will we cope? Or not? It’s certainly something that should be addressed sooner rather than later, because, as the article reports:
“This is way beyond bats now. This is about thinking about any animals,” says Paul Faure, the director of the Bat Lab at McMaster University, who was not involved in the study. “We are domesticating our planet, we’re creating noise pollution, we’re creating light pollution. We’re fundamentally altering the world that we live in.”
Noise and its effect on all animals, including humans, has been ignored for too long. It’s more than just a nuisance. Among other things, noise can damage hearing with one exposure. It’s time that the federal, state, and local governments step up and regulate noise much as they regulate air or water pollution, treating noise as the public health hazard that it is. It also is time for adults to assume some responsibility for their hearing and their children’s hearing by protecting themselves and others through the use of ear plugs and ear muff protectors, or by the simply lowering the volume when they can, and leaving a loud space when they cannot. It’s time that we take noise-induced hearing loss and other noise-induced hearing injuries seriously. Because until we do, people will continue to suffer permanent hearing injuries for which there is no cure, a particularly galling situation when one considers that noise-induced hearing injuries are 100% preventable.