BBC Future is running a new series titled Last Place on Earth, and in their first article they search for silent places undisturbed by the noises of civilization.
The best part of the article profiles Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist and founder of the non–profit One Square Inch of Silence.
One Square Inch of Silence appears to be both a place and an idea: the place is found in Hoh Rain Forest, Washington, USA , and the idea is this:
If a loud noise, such as the passing of an aircraft, can impact many square miles, then a natural place, if maintained in a 100% noise-free condition, will also impact many square miles around it. It is predicted that protecting a single square inch of land from noise pollution will benefit large areas of the park.
It’s a brilliantly simple idea.
Visitors are welcome to the One Square Inch of Silence in Hoh Rain Forest, and directions are posted on the site’s map page. The exact location of the Square Inch is marked by a reddish stone on top of a moss-covered log; coordinates are 47° 51.959N, 123° 52.221W, 678 feet (207 m) above sea level. Hikers are asked to maintain the quiet, of course.
Also found at the Square Inch site is the Jar of Quiet Thoughts, where visitors can write down and leave their quiet thoughts as well as read what others have written. Visitors have a duty to maintain confidentiality, and quoting from the Jar is prohibited.
Hempton says he has discovered about a dozen silent places in the US, and a number of others around the rest of the world. Much of Europe is disqualified because of its heavy development, although Hempton believes suitable square inches could exist in Poland and Scandinavia.
Hempton is confident that although we currently suffer from an excess of noise, nations will one day have quiet area programs similar to the dark sky programs that exist today. (If you don’t know about dark sky initiatives, take a look at the International Dark Sky Association.)
I absolutely believe we will have our quiet places (continued Hempton). Just like we went through with water quality, things have to get really bad before we recognize them as a basic value and clean them up.