Close your eyes, what do you hear? The sound of vehicles braking and driving by on the overcrowded roads? The sound of taxis honking their horns as they speed through the traffic, or the constant drone of the concrete jungle? How many of you indicated the sound of a bird singing?
By expanding the lives of one species we are participating in the extinction of other species. While we as humans prosper in modernity and consumerism we need to start asking ourselves at what cost? We are defacing the earth by cutting down trees, polluting nature and partaking in the extinction of animals, and all for more material gain. Greed is one of many reasons for which we as humans will eradicate nature and all its inhabitants.
Anthropocene symbolises the geological age and is seen as a period in which human activity had the strongest impact on not only climate change but environmental change as well (Collins, 2016). Anthropocene and the “Great Acceleration” goes hand in hand due to the rapid shift in the environmental system (Gisli, 2013). A dominant nature environment is now mostly dominated by humans (Gisli, 2013).
The swift growth of technological developments, over population of mankind and the escalation of resource consumption are the human driving forces of the Anthropocene (Waters, 2016). The ozone hole over Antarctica had led to immense climate change and threatens the ecosystem (Steffen, 2011). The ozone hole is only one of the anthropogenic causes of change other influences include the modifying of biogeochemical cycles, the modification of water cycles and in return the change of water vapour and the extinction of fauna and flora (Steffen, 2011).
Being an early riser may be someone else’s idea of torture, but it has its own benefits. If you wake up early enough you are greeted with the sweet sounds of singing birds. Hearing the solace of singing birds is more than enough to brighten up one’s day. Those unfortunate days where I sleep in late I am woken by the sounds of cars passing by, honking horns and even the odd police sirens echoing through the streets.
Throughout the day the sound of birds signing is replaced with the constant sounds of people talking and the busy world in which we live. A nature-dominated environment is now overpowered by the presence of mankind and as a result thereof the sound of nature is replaced by manmade sounds (Gisli, 2013). The rapid shift in the soundscape links to not only the “Great Acceleration”, but shows the aftermath caused by the anthropogenic age (Collins, 2016).
There is a discord between the sounds of manmade activities and the sounds of other species in our environment (Whitehouse, 2015). The grounding of awareness is an indexical and iconic meshwork not only for birds, but for mankind as well (Whitehouse, 2015). Even though this meshwork is continuously developing there is still a few regularities present (Whitehouse, 2015). The symbolic arises from this grounding and provides the possibility for a fluctuation (Whitehouse, 2015). The Anthropocene is unstable and the cause of this instability can be linked to mankind (Whitehouse, 2015).
Listening to birds in the Anthropocene should not promote separation, but should strengthen the bond between birds and humans harmoniously (Whitehouse, 2015). Mankind changed our soundscape and influenced the sounds that we hear. The sound of nature was the dominant sound over the ages, but as time passed we as humans changed the power relation (Gisli, 2013). Humans dominated nature and by doing so changed our soundscape. Human activities integrated with the sound of nature to form a new soundscape one in which nature and human activities are both present (Whitehouse, 2015).
Most of the bird sounds that can be heard are only from a few species. This alarming revelation indicates that our biodiversity is decreasing at rapid speeds and that we need to come up with a solution in order to prevent mass extinction. More and more species are becoming endangered and we as humans are to blame. We are living in the Anthropocene and it is evident in the way that our ecosystem and biodiversity is dwindling (Whitehouse, 2015).
My father moved a lot when he was younger, but even though he moved between Germiston, Pretoria and Witbank there was always one constant, the presence of animal life. Growing up my father had a love for birdlife and farmed with pigeons and fantails. He would always remember waking up to birds singing and coming home from school and being surrounded by them. Since then times had changed and these days it is seen as a rarity to be woken up and surrounded by birds.
My mother grew up in Mapleton and can recall seeing a variety of bird species on her way to and from school, species such as crows, finks, partridges, guinea fowls and woodpeckers. On weekends she and her siblings would go and visit their grandparents on a farm. Her fondest memory is being woken up in the morning by the sound of a “piet-my-vrou”. My grandparents grew up in Fortuna and Mapleton and vividly remembers being able to see animal species every day. They saw rabbits, jackals, guinea fowls, pheasants, squirrels and owls on a daily bases. Urbanisation led to the declining of these animals amongst humans, animals which roamed free amongst people can only be seen in rural parts of the country.
In the morning when waking up for school I was greeted with the sound of birds singing in the background. Birds could be seen on the playground or flying above us when it was recess. On the first day of spring each student had to bring flowers and every year our school planted and expanded the flora of the area and environment. The declining of singing birds in my area strengthens the loss of biodiversity caused by the anthropogenic age.
The aftermath of the degradation of ecosystems can also be seen in the loss of plant species in my neighbourhood and surrounding areas. Pollution, overpopulation and urbanization are the main reasons for the loss in biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems in my community.
It is truly a tragedy when the sound of human activity is the dominant sound over that of nature and its beauty. The shift in dominance between nature and mankind forms part of the Anthropocene and shows that we are living in an anthropogenic age due to our own fault (Gisli, 2013). Mankind is to blame for the change in the ecosystem and the loss of biodiversity we come across every day.
If we as human beings are not careful we will be the sole reason for the extinction of not only our fauna and flora, but also the extinction of mankind. We need to strive for a harmonious relationship between nature and mankind and find a balance between the two. Nature and mankind needs to be a co-dependant relationship and in order to grow we need to be able to rely on each other.
Collins, W et al. 2016. Dictionary.com. [Online]
Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/anthropocene
[Accessed 10 April 2016].
Collins, W et al. 2016. Dictionary.com. [Online]
Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/anthropogenic
[Accessed 10 April 2016].
Gisli, P et al. 2013. Reconceptualizing the Anthrops in the Antropocene: Intergrating the social sciences and humanities in global environmental change research. Environmental Science & Policy, Issue 28, pp. 3-13.
Steffen, W et al. 2011. The Antropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society , Issue 369, pp. 842-867.
Waters, C et al. 2016. The Antropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene. Science, Issue 351, p. 6269:[sp].
Whitehouse, A. 2015. Listening to birds in the Antropocene: the anxious semiotics of sound in a human-dominated world. Environmental Humanities , Issue 6, pp. 53-71.