Have you ever lived next door to a dog? Even if you like the pooch, what’s the worst thing about living there? I’m going to guess it’s the noise. You’re trying to sleep in and out comes the yowling. Screaming their head off at some nonsense, like, oh, another dog is being walked across the street, or someone’s delivering something to their door, or a burglar is approaching your window – but you never learn that because that dog scared him off!
Nothing gets me yelled at by Handsome as much as my barking. There are things that concern him more (like my love of chasing some animal into the street), but barking happens so much more. This could happen when I bark loudly right next to him while he’s working or sleeping (funny how that seems to affect him), or because I’m outdoors telling off a stranger and he knows his neighbors are going to get upset. Or because we’re on a walk and I see another person and dog coming, and the dog and I go on a rant at each other of “If I weren’t on this leash, I’d rip you apart at the seams!”
(Even though we both know that, if we weren’t on leashes, we’d probably just sniff and play together!)
But you know what animal makes a lot more noise than we do? And doesn’t just drive us nuts but themselves as well?
Now first there are the actual sounds you guys make just by doing things. Between your cars, planes, factories, shops, ships, rocketships… you are a very loud species. And then there’s the noise you make on purpose – musical instruments, speakers, sound systems, headphones (yes we dogs can hear them), alarms, firecrackers, sirens, bombs… My ancestors tell me this planet used to be really quiet except during thunder and volcanoes. Today we kind of like the peace those bring, as nature focuses you folks on more important, less self-expressive, activities.
But today I want to talk about another kind of noise. A sort that doesn’t hurt us dogs’ sensitive ears as much, but breaks our hearts to watch. The noise of misinformation.
Long ago, certain people realized that creating noise is a great way to avoid responsibility for things. When scientists discovered that smoking tobacco leads to cancer, the tobacco companies spent billions of dollars putting out stories that said that there were “two sides” to this, that not all scientists agreed. Well this was a lie. But they kept their yammering going, and so managed to keep selling their ‘cancer sticks’ for decades.
It’s not unnatural. Two kids get taken to the school office for fighting at recess. One says they fought because the other punched them and called their mother a name. The other says that’s not true. What’s the principal supposed to do? One is lying, but there’s no way to know which one. So whoever’s lying just did a great job of avoiding trouble by making that noise. Hey if we dogs had the ability to get out of punishment by lying, we’d do it too. No judgment there.
My problem is when adult humans do it on a large level. I’m sure you heard about the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States in 2001. The U.S. was upset and wanted to retaliate against the group that had done it. But the president wanted to go to war against Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with those attacks, and was even run by enemies of Al Qaeda. So he and his administration started repeating the lie that Iraq was behind the attacks, and preparing to unleash nuclear war on the U.S. (something they were nowhere near capable of doing). Many Americans and others spoke up about the lie, but they weren’t loud enough to beat the noise. The U.S. attacked Iraq and started a war that killed maybe a million people. (Why do I say “maybe?” Well, the noise machine has made sure that no one knows exactly how many deaths there were.)
But as awful as that, and so many similar cases, have been, maybe the worst case of noise ever has been the lies about what’s happened to the Earth’s climate over the last couple hundred years. Scientists knew about greenhouse gases and man-made global warming in the 1950s. Yes you read that right – the 1950s! So what’s happened for the past seven decades? Noise! Tons of noise, billions of dollars worth of noise, all to just create doubt about this science. For profit, for power, for… well, anything but care and love for the human race, for the animals of the earth, for even one’s own children.
And it’s too late. This last year has shown that the effects of Global Warming are here, as I’m sure you all know. And no matter how old you are, my reader, the rest of your life will be spent dealing with the effects of this. Where you live, what you can eat, whether you can eat, what happens to your economy, what the population of your area is like, and of course what it’s like outdoors, will all be determined by this crime against all life. It will be horrific, it will be incredibly expensive, and it will determine the future of all our species.
Now that’s just fact. You can – and should – do whatever you can to help, but sadly no one person can reverse what’s happened (not even Greta Thunberg, and if anyone could, it would be that amazing soldier!).
But you know what you can do? Stop encouraging the noise in your own life!
If you are wondering what’s going on in Gaza, and you click onto social media and see completely conflicting stories about who’s doing what, look somewhere else you trust for your information.
If you’re voting in an election, look at what the candidates actually say and what they’ve actually done. Don’t believe something someone says about them just because you hear it (Here’s a start: Volodymyr Zelensky is not a Nazi, and Hillary Clinton does not eat children!).
And even closer to home – if someone at your school posts online that someone else you’ve always found nice is doing something really bad, have some doubt about it. This may just be noise. And if rumors start flying where you work that make someone look bad, check that gossip out before you repeat it.
And my biggest request of you – Don’t be the one to start a noisy lie. It’s not worthy of you, and it only makes everyone else’s lives worse.
Let us dogs be the ones who annoy everyone with our dumb barking at the wrong times and in the wrong places. You guys are way more powerful, and your noise causes way more harm.
But even better, let’s all aim for a bit more…