The Hum of the Near Silent Future

by Doron Amiran, CCP  |  Jan. 27, 2016

I live on a country road, not too far off the highway. There are many things I love about
our one-and-a-half acres of Sonoma County paradise. Birds flit among the trees,
and the sunshine dapples the greening grass of springtime. But the highway
buzzes incessantly in the background, and the decibels spike from time to time with
the keening whine of an accelerating turbo, or the roar of a Harley.

The rumble of internal combustion is an incessant part of
modern life. So much so that silence is a precious and undervalued commodity. Silence-seeking
is a uniquely modern pursuit, and will drive some to hike miles away from roads
and traffic to enjoy the unfiltered sounds of nature: the wind through the
leaves, or the screech of a hawk on high.

I think of the city-dweller who must shutter herself from
the roar of the machines outside. Especially that most beloved of machines: the
car. How constant is the sound of automotive combustion in our lives? So much
so that we do not even think of it. We just accept it as one of the prices we
pay for the freedom of mobility we enjoy, along with the cost of gasoline and
its stench on our hands after a fill-up.

Electric cars offer a different soundscape altogether. My
Fiat 500e creeps along silently until I punch it. Instead of a rumble, grumble
or roar, however, there is a slight whine as the motors wind, and I am instantly
flying down the road, nearly silent.

What will our world be like when we have revamped our
fleets, replacing our fossil-fuel burning automobiles with the electric cars
that are already whizzing around California in the tens of thousands? How
different will our cities be when all that churning and burning is replaced by
the subtle hum of electric transportation? How many windows will be thrown open
to let in the sunshine, no longer needing to be closed to the roar of the city
outside? How much more time will we want to spend in our yards and on our
porches, freed from the sound, smoke, and stench of our fossil-fuel-powered
economy?

It seems like a small thing, to quiet our world. But the
rapid growth of electric transportation, where we will measure our efficiency in
miles-per-solar-powered kilowatt instead of mpgs, offers not just a cleaner and
more sustainable world, but a quieter, calmer and more pleasant one as well.

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