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Spring 2009 - page 2

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Our participation at the Vancouver Wellness Show

This year for the first time we had an info-booth at the Vancouver Wellness Show. The show organisers, New Rave Productions, Inc., provided information about it (part of which is copied below in italic), and asked for feedback.
 
“366 exhibit spaces filled the floor to capacity; the show space was sold out.  Attendance saw a 5% increase over last year, at 34,951 people. On February 6, 7, & 9, 2009, the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre welcomed the thirty-thousand-plus annual visitors to the unique and anticipated show, the 17th Annual Wellness Show, that truly offered something for everyone.

With schedules that changed daily and so much to see, many opted for a three-day pass—a great value at under $30.  1,375 coupons were redeemed, and Farm Folk/City Folk will be the recipient of $1,375 as this year’s charity, selected by our presenting sponsor Choices Markets.  An additional $600 was donated by the Wellness Show to three charities in our Media Muffin special healthy baking competition.”

Our experience there was that it was very noisy in that big hall with rather poor acoustic properties. The overall levels that we obtained on our Radio Shack analogue sound-level meter, set to the A-scale and slow response, ranged from around 70dBA to 87dBA. Whenever one of the exhibitors gave a presentation on

 

one of several stages, that additional amplified sound drove the level right up to often over 90dBA, in some instances to over 100dBA. This type of stressful noise is what one hears at a busy freeway. It is not at all conducive to promoting good health at a wellness show.

We went around to speak to the individual presenters and the organisers; all in vain. The latter do not “require” exhibitors to make sure their sound won’t go over a particular maximum level, and monitor that. Each of them can set the level to his or her liking, all of which makes for a sonic mess. As appears to be the case in modern life, everyone wants to be “competitive” and out-compete all other presenters by cranking the level up.
 
We assume that until our participation there, the organisers never had anybody comment on the acoustic aspect of the show, for which they never felt compelled to do something about it. We will bring this to their attention, plus the fact that most of the people who stopped at our booth were gravely disturbed by that noise. Unfortunately, it seems that also most of them relied on us to “do some-thing about it”, instead of taking action themselves as well.

Our thanks to all who helped us at that show. In spite of there having been so much noise, it was a good exposure for us and our cause.

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Noise overload imperils ocean creatures, experts warn

—By Silvia Aloisi / Reuters

ROME – Man-made noise in the world’s oceans is becoming an increasing threat to whales, dolphins, and turtles that use sound to communicate, forage for food, and find mates, wildlife experts said last December. Rumbling ship engines, seismic surveys by oil and gas companies, and intrusive military sonars are triggering an “acoustic fog and cacophony of sounds” underwater, scaring marine animals and affecting their behaviour.

“There is now evidence linking loud underwater noises with some major strandings of marine mammals, especially deep-diving beaked whales,” Mark Simmonds, Science Director of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, told a news conference in Rome.
 
Simmonds, who was speaking on the sidelines of a December 1–5 United Nations Environment Programme Convention on Migratory Species conference, said there are also growing indications that certain tissue damage in cetaceans is linked to noise. Experts suspect that startled animals may tend to dive erratically and suffer something similar to human divers getting the “bends”—illness symptoms experienced when divers do not carry out proper decompression stops after a long or deep dive.

According to Ocean Noise: Turn It Down, a new report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the distance over which blue whales

 

can communicate had been cut by 90% as a result of higher noise levels. Over the past 50 years, low-frequency underwater noise has doubled every 10 years, while the number of ships has tripled, the report also said. It added that sound produced by air guns used for seismic surveys in oil exploration can travel more than 3,000 km from its source. The rising number of vessels, and their increasing speed, has led to more ships striking marine animals already threatened by hunting and climate change.

Experts say there are also concerns that rising levels of carbon dioxide are pushing water acidity levels up and contributing to noisier oceans, because when acidity rises, water absorbs less noise. “If there is a lot of background noise, the animals can’t hear the boat coming,” said Simmonds. “It’s the cocktail party effect.” Marine conservationists at the Rome conference are urging governments and industry to adopt quieter ship engines, tighter rules on seismic surveys, and less disrupting sonar technologies by navies.

But Simmonds said conservationists were concerned that pressures from the military and energy industry as well as the need for more research into marine noise pollution may lead to the resolution being substantially weakened. “We simply don’t know at this stage how many animals are affected by noise pollution, but the lack of full scientific evidence should not be a reason to delay action,” said Simmonds.


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