Anderson Cooper was so incensed by the decision to literally pull the plug on the Bruce Springsteen/Paul McCartney concert in Hyde Park last week, he contributed a two minute on-air rant on the subject during his “Ridiculist” spot on CNN.
Now, I love Anderson Cooper, I think he is a great journalist who does his job well and with heart. I love Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney because, well, who over 40 doesn’t? Still, Bob Dylan himself couldn't have said it better when he wrote these words that I'm going to share with Anderson now: the times, they are a-changin'.
For decades, people advocating a reduction in noise pollution have been working hard to get the message across that man-made noise is harmful. It’s harming plant life, animal life, and human life.
People my age, of the boomer generation, suffer tinnitus and varying degrees of deafness in part due to the decibel levels of bygone concerts featuring great rock and roll masters like Springsteen and McCartney. But we’re not blaming the artists, we’re blaming the decibels, and the cure demands a level of ruthlessness that we could never have imagined 25 years ago. Unplugging Springsteen and McCartney is only the beginning. Anderson, have you heard of the “Rock Concert Effect?” It's the tip of the iceberg.
It’s time to change our ways.
Look, Anderson, if you check into some of the studies on the effects of man-made noise on the earth that have been published over the past 30 years, you might be surprised to know the serious toll noise is taking on the planet and its inhabitants. Birds in urban areas have lost their ability to chirp in their natural tone, which has rendered them unable to attract mates. Man-made noise has so affected certain sparrow populations that disoriented female sparrows are abandoning their nests, and the species is declining. Baby sparrows, abandoned by their mothers who leave the nest to find food, and then can't hear the chirps of their chicks over the din. Parent sparrows are stressed out by all the noise, and they leave! Baby sparrows, abandoned because of man-made noise!
Out west, the iconic pinyon trees grown for centuries on the Mesas of the Western United States have died from the effects of noise caused by high decibel compressors set up at natural gas wells nearby, and with the demise of these historic trees goes the habitat of about 1,000 species of fungi, insects, arthropods, mammals and birds that depend on pinyons for their survival.
Hyde Park and other communities worldwide are making the earliest commitments to ending noise pollution in their neighborhoods and it’s going to hurt for a while. But noise-induced sleep deprivation and stress are both directly linked to almost epidemic levels of increased heart attacks among people worldwide. Noise causes blood pressure to rise and remain high; it compounds anxiety-related illness because noise triggers our natural “fight or flight” response too often; that response exists in us as a survival mechanism to alert us to real danger. Each time it’s triggered, our brain releases adrenaline, which ups the blood pressure and instigates the beginnings of long term health problems, because our hearts aren’t meant to be in “fight or flight” mode several times a day or more for years on end.
Noise pollution, I would like to point out to Anderson, deprives an enormous number of the world’s population of a good night's sleep, and without regular, healthy sleep each night our bodies become less resistant to cardiovascular disease and other ailments. It is creating an entire generation of prematurely deaf and hearing impaired citizens worldwide. Noise hinders healing, reduces resistance to disease, and noise interferes with school children’s ability to learn and retain information.
Noise scares our pets.
Look, I am glad to have lived at a time when we were all oblivious to the effects of high decibels on our delicate ears and cardiovascular systems. Although I have suffered from tinnitus for years, and I assume my hearing loss is fairly profound, I still have fond memories of the days of insanely loud rock concerts well. In fact, they still ring in my ears.
Putting a lid on noise pollution is not going to be easy for anyone who loves their music loud, but it’s time. The Hyde Park community put noise ordinances in effect because they had a problem and decided to address it. The ordinance does not list exemptions such as “excellent rock concerts” because, well, it’s time. The earth is too noisy Anderson, we have to make some dramatic changes and it’s not going to be fun at first. But we’ll adapt. We’ll find new ways to listen to our music without impacting health and well-being.
If we can get a handle on man-made noise pollution, our kids will have a better chance of retaining their hearing past middle age, and maintaining their cardiovascular health well beyond. Our grandchildren will get to see sparrows because we may be able to rescue the species before we kill it off entirely with unchecked, toxic noise pollution. Maybe even the remaining pinyon trees can somehow be salvaged, and that 1,000-plus string of species that depend on it for their survival.
Anderson, I understand your pain. We’re saying goodbye to an era when we pull the plug on our greatest rock and roll artists. This is just one of the many sacrifices we have to make in the long and difficult road to curbing man-made noise pollution that lay ahead. It’s the right thing to do Anderson, you’ll see.
Like second-hand smoke, we need to keep our noise out of the airspace of others who either don’t want to hear it, or who can’t make the choice for themselves. That’s right, I’m talking little children and puppies. Now, does that visual ease the pain of placing a curfew on Rock and Roll?