Noise is most definitely part of our everyday lives, so much so that it has become a norm. Honking of car horns, loud music, the television, traffic, our electrical appliances and even pets barking in the middle of the night have all become a part of our culture and it is almost as though we have become deaf to its effects.
When we hear the term pollution we tend to focus on either water, air or land-based pollution and often neglect noise and light.
However, noise pollution is a real concept and a serious issue. Think about how annoying someone practising the recorder is sometimes you literally feel to pull your hair out or legit feel like you can turn into the hulk.
Exactly one week ago was the start of the official celebrations to the world’s greatest show on Earth, Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival, an absolutely euphoric event providing a freedom and joy that no man can truly explain.
Unofficially, carnival celebrations start on Boxing Day and are followed by a series of fetes (parties), competitions, ole mas, kiddies parade of the bands, steelpan and so much more. Despite this year’s carnival being labelled as epic, the issue of noise pollution was a constant topic of conversation.
On January 13th at a very popular cooler fete authorities requested that the music be lowered as it exceeded the decibel levels allowed in the organisers’ Noise Variation Permit. This sparked a war between the Environmental Management Authority, party promoters and the residents of Woodbrook. The promoters insisted that by enforcing the law they were killing carnival, the authority insisted that the law be upheld and the residents rejoiced because the law was finally upheld as a number of events take place in Woodbrook and environs.
Promoters typically apply for a Noise Variation Permit, whereby an event is allowed to exceed the prescribed level for a period of time. Holders of a Noise Variation Permit are required to adhere to the set decibel levels and in cases where no Noise Variation is obtained, the regular (daytime or nighttime) prescribed levels must be observed.
So what exactly is the issue???? I don’t quite understand myself, to be honest. In no way can I see how enforcing the noise pollution rules is destroying our carnival. It is of my opinion that a number of other factors related to investment in the industry, product specialisation (i.e we are carrying our parties and bands to many different islands so what exactly is going to make our celebrations stand out?), creativity, greed, lack of cohesion ( Socadrome vs Queens Park Savannah stage) and lack of professionalism that are contributing to our suffering numbers.
While Carnival is an integral element of our culture and provides livelihoods to many citizens sustainability is still a concept that must be upheld. Our celebrations can take place with society, the environment and the economy in mind. We must hold ourselves to higher standards and do what is best for all, not just one particular group. For years residents of Woodbrook and environs have suffered. Imagine if you were ill and just wanted to sleep but there was music blasting at immense volumes, or your children have exams and are unable to study because of loud music, or your newborn cannot stop crying due to continuous and excessively loud music. Most of us often turn a blind eye because we are not directly affected but we cannot continue to operate in such a manner.
Our noise pollution rules were created for a purpose and it has absolutely nothing to do with the destruction of our cultural events.
There are numerous effects of noise pollution
1. Hearing Problems: an Unwanted sound that our ears have not been built to filter can cause severe problems within the body. Constant exposure to loud levels of noise can result in eardrum damage or worse loss of hearing. Moreover, our sensitivity to sounds that helps regulates our body’s rhythm is reduced.
2. Health Issues: Excessive noise pollution can influence psychological health. This can cause aggressive behaviour, disturbance of sleep, constant stress, fatigue and hypertension. Constant sharp noise can also cause severe headaches and disturb your emotional balance.
3. Sleeping Disorders: Loud noise can certainly hamper your sleeping pattern and may lead to irritation and uncomfortable situations.
4. Cardiovascular Issues: High-intensity noise causes high blood pressure and increases heartbeat rate as it disrupts the normal blood flow.
5. Effect on Wildlife: Animals are far more dependent on sound than humans as their survival depends on it, so the effects are definitely more serious. Pets tend to react more aggressively in households where there is a constant loud noise. They become disoriented more easily and face many behavioural problems. In nature, animals may suffer from hearing loss, which makes them easy prey and results in declining populations. Others may become inefficient at hunting, disturbing the balance of the eco-system. Species that depend on mating calls to reproduce are often unable to hear these calls due to excessive man-made noise and are unable to reproduce also contributing to decreasing populations. Others require sound waves to echolocate and find their way when migrating. Disturbing their sound signals means they get lost easily and do not migrate when they should.
Unwanted loud noise literally drives us crazy and our noise pollution rules are for our benefit and the protection of the environment. Even though noise has become an essential part of our culture the law is the law and it is our duty to abide by the law no matter the event. Many of our promoters obey the laws of other countries so why must Trinidad and Tobago be disregarded???