The world is getting alarmingly noisier each day that even a one-square-inch area of silence is now being fought hard to preserve.
Located in the Hoh Rainforest in the heart of Washington Olympic National Park lies a research project is dedicating itself to the protection of a One Square Inch of Silence from threats of noise pollution. This is a problem that is highly prevalent in the United States's current environmental landscape.
'One Square Inch of Silence' Project
A tiny red pebble found on top of a mossy log marks the location of America's quietest place, two hours away from visitor's center along the Hoh River Trail. Usually hiked in two hours, acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton was actively looking for the world's quietest places for a time when he found the area.
The search came after he had regained his ability to hear, and his experience of loss was what encouraged him to become an active protector of quietude. The pebble's placement easily marked the beginning of the One Square Inch of Silence project.
Not Entirely Quiet
Make no mistake, however. This square-inch quiet place isn't exactly "soundless." The OSI is a very rare place where there can be an absence of human-made noise for up to 20 minutes at a time.
In the "One Square Inch of Silence," one can actually still hear their surroundings, but those are mostly just natural sounds of the environment.
This project aims that people shall realize how natural sounds have the ability to connect them to nature. By listening to its sound, one can experience true silence and eventually inner peace, beneath all the man-made noise that continuously dominate his or her hearing.
The rationale behind the project lies in comparison to how loud noises emitted by a single aircraft can travel many square miles. An application of the same logic, protecting even just one-square-inch of a natural place, emits a positive impact that can also radiate many miles around it.
The Olympic National Park is known as one of the most pristine and untouched areas in the country. It is far from the noise of commercial flight paths and any other kind of human intrusions.
Its establishment has allowed the preservation of Washington's natural and geologic history, as protected and administered by the U.S. National Park Service. However, as the OSI currently lobbies for Olympic National Park to become the country's first "Quiet Park," where tourists and stargazers can enjoy an unpolluted view of the starry sky, Gordon Hempton, founder of the project, said that there are increasing threats to its quietude.
In a report by Lonely Planet, he said that the iconic landmark is currently being threatened by the heightened activities brought about by a nearby Naval Air Base and the constant expansion of Seattle-Tacoma airport.
With his own past efforts, such as successfully lobbying for airlines to reroute their flights, Hempton now hopes for a legislation that can officially protect it from these disruptions and ultimately, from noise pollution.
Quiet places like this beg protection to maintain its natural silence and failure to do so would cause the complete demise of one of the most important resources that both humans and animals need. Without adequate protection, silence could be for naught in the next 10 years, not only affecting man's relationship with nature but also with himself.
Finding Inner Peace
The search for inner peace is quite a challenge these days, which is why silent retreats have actually been on the rise. These retreats may not always be for the environment, but people are now rediscovering the joy in experiencing silence.
The One Square Inch of Silence project hopes that in the near future, people will eventually help protect and preserve quiet places like this themselves. With the unique experience of what is believed to be the quietest place on earth brings, it is definitely considered a must-visit destination for travelers.