Tomorrow’s Silence: The Trend Towards Things that Make Less Noise
How the world may be much quieter in the not-so-distant future
Planes, trains, and automobiles may have been the catalyst for a classic 80s movie, but in real life, these vehicles actually cause a lot of environmental problems. And while emissions are certainly a major issue, the noise pollution they cause can’t be ignored. Annoying, sure, but noise can actually be extremely harmful to your health. In addition to ears, it’s also bad for the heart, and it may even threaten the future of the human species. The good news, however, is that people are starting to take noise more seriously. Both private companies and governments are now working to curb the din, and these are the things they are focusing on:
There has been a spike in the sale of electric cars in recent years, and while good for the planet, this is also excellent for noise reduction. Electric vehicles are much quieter than ones that run on fuel, and the more of them that are on the roads, the quieter it will be. A residual benefit of this is the fact that horns wouldn’t have to be as loud. Even if gas-powered autos will remain the norm for a while, there are other initiatives in the works to lessen noise. Some states – including California and Arizona – have experimented with a special type of pavement comprised of smooth concrete or rubberized asphalt designed to make things quieter. In Phoenix, this has resulted in the reduction of traffic noise by up to 12 decibels.
If you live in a sizable city, chances are good that you hear sirens from fire trucks or ambulances fairly often. And, in most cases, you probably never see these vehicles. Sirens are intended to alert people, so they’ll get out of the way, but they really do their job too well. Not everybody needs to hear them, and in the future, they probably won’t. A company in England is working on a siren that directs its sound horizontally, which will prevent it from being as loud to people in high-rises. But even more encouraging is the promise of new tech that will allow emergency vehicles to send sirens right to cars, as well as the phones of pedestrians. With self-driving autos, sirens may not be needed at all, as these alerts could be sent to their computer systems.
Thanks to satellite systems, airplanes can now take off and land at steeper angles than they used to, and this has been credited with reducing the amount of noise they cause to communities in flight paths. On top of that, airplane engines are now designed to make them quieter. Upon takeoff, Airbus’ A380 creates half as much noise as a 747, and one-quarter as much when landing. The folks at NASA want to take things even further. Engineers are experimenting to make planes as quiet as possible. This includes using hybrid engines and putting engines above the wings.
Who amongst us hasn’t been woken up at some ungodly hour on a Saturday morning because a neighbor decided that was the perfect time to blow the leaves around his yard? Leaf blowers are the scourge of suburbia, but they too are starting to quiet down. Many are now being made with batteries instead of noisy (and dirty) engines. Battery-powered lawn mowers are also becoming prevalent. Eventually, you may never have to know if anybody on your street is doing any yard work.
Construction machinery is also benefiting from the advancements in batteries. In addition to improved longevity, newer batteries have also become much cheaper in recent years, which has resulted in less expensive equipment. And in addition to the money saved on fuel, along with the benefits to the environment, electric machinery is much quieter. This is especially beneficial to crews and everyone in the area when work has to be done indoors.
The world continues to be a noisy place, but thankfully, it’s possible to see a change on the horizon. And construction companies don’t have to wait for less noisy equipment; they can get a mini skid steer or battery-powered wheelbarrow right now that’s strong, durable, and quiet.