The war on cars is also a war on noise

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by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

I wasn’t aware that there’s a website called The War on Cars, but listening to this podcast by conservation scientist and now-author Paul Donald, I realized that the war on cars is also a war on noise. Donald’s book “Traffication: How Cars Destroy Nature and What We Can Do About It,” covers the impact of vehicular traffic and roads on animals of all sorts, including humans. In the podcast, beginning at around 14 minutes, he discusses the adverse effects of vehicle noise on both birds and humans. Birds have to modify their calls to be heard above road traffic noise, and the many species that can’t do that simply have to move elsewhere or just don’t survive. Road traffic noise has proven adverse non-auditory health effects on humans, too. Of course, gas-powered vehicles also produce gaseous and particulate air pollution, and even electric vehicles leave small tire particles in the air.
Roads have other effects on insects, birds and small mammals, limiting their habitats if they can’t cross the roads and endangering those who do try to cross. Donald suggests reducing the use of cars by walking, using bicycles or public transportation and reducing speed to limit the overall harm of road traffic.
I’m not sure how realistic Donald’s proposals are, but at least he has made the problems of road traffic clear, perhaps in a way similar to Rachel Carson’s classic book “Silent Spring,” which made clear the problems of insecticides. I do know that a world with reduced road traffic will be a cleaner, quieter and better world for all.

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