Ocean Acoustics -
Moral Imperatives & LFAS
By Cheryl A. Magill <>
Today's warfare specialist knows gadgetry.
And today's warfare specialist will insist that we need some very big and very noisy gadgets. It is a sales pitch. There is a hook. A "hook" is a term used to describe an aggressive sales technique which will keep the buyer "sold." This warfare specialist sales-hook involves your buying-into this idea that the way to deal with all possible threats is by having the most dangerous tool imaginable at your immediate disposal. The hook is baited with fear-based responses and dangled before a tantalizing political backdrop; ensnaring all who ingest the idea that we need to fend-off hypothetical and unlikely disasters. By asking you to feel ready to respond to the immediacy of an imagined threat, the urgency of the sale is conveyed. And now you're sold and you've already committed to a concept. You've been played. You've quite possibly been snowed. Congratulations! You just made a decision as a symptomatic response to induced stress.
Ultimately, argues the warfare specialist, to prevent a disaster from occurring, the expert strategists have to guarantee that nothing can penetrate their global defense systems--in the air, on the water or beneath the seas. In order to accomplish this, you may be told that in an underwater environment, an acoustic "ping" must be introduced worldwide.
Well, there's the completed sales pitch. So you say to yourself, 'what's a little ping?'
There is no little "ping". The name itself is misleading. Low Frequency Active Sonar is a sustained, enormously powerful tone blasting at very low frequencies through deep ocean layers. It echoes back a signal to identify submerged objects under water. The trouble is, this may harm life which lives in these acoustic ocean layers; these linkl ayers. And it is damaging. Whales have died. Even people claim to have been hurt.
Some technologies should not be used. Perhaps the most outstanding advance of civilization is our growing unwillingness to use destructive tools. Increasingly, we have learned that the failure to observe such ethics results in greater and greater associative costs. What we fail to pay in the short run eventually catches up. The best examples of associative long term costs are related to the depletion of our now quickly vanishing environmental resources.
Approximately 70% of our planet is covered by oceans, and most of our planetary life forms live underwater. We have yet to discover the characteristics of many of the organisms with which we share this planetary home. Yet the LFA Sonar tones, as proposed to be implemented by the Navy, would pollute the environment of all these creatures by destroying the acoustic sanctity of their habitat.
The importance of sound in an underwater environment cannot be overly stated. To whales and dolphins, sound "lights" the way. Just as humans have relied on the stars at night to aid in their navigation, so too do ocean creatures rely on sound to guide them in their navigational orientations and linguistic/communication needs.
Let's for a moment compare ourselves with the dolphins and whales. Our human scholars figured out how to detect depth of field and to employ a technique called "perspective" only a few hundred years ago during something called the Renaissance. Obviously, perspective is something we're still struggling to learn, as it seems that we tend to regard everything in relation to our own species'static vantage point. By means of contrast, depth of field is second nature to cetacean and they are involved in a communication technique which conveys field depth in much the same way you might expect to watch a 3-D interactive movie. If you substitute light with sound, your begin to conceptualize this possibility. But by polluting this environment with loud sound vibrations, we may deprive whales and dolphins of that ability.
Here is another example. A little over a hundred years ago, our species invented something called a telephone. This device allows us to be charged long distance fees for emulating a task that the Blue Whale can do quite naturally. Blue whales are known to communicate with their mates many hundreds of miles away. But we may deprive the whales of that ability as well by adding this acoustic pollutant to their environment.
Sounds and signals can not stand out against the ambient background noise of LFAS. And so, we detract from definitions available to these creatures. But it's more than just perception. It has to do with complex matters too such as at what rate tissue and bone vibrate. At what rate lungs oxygenate and at what probable likelihood these creatures which we force to endure exposure to sonic radiation won't even make it to the shore to strand.
The LFA Sonar technologies have already been tested at powerful enough levels to have created damage sufficient to kill the large deep diving baleen whales. What its impact has been to the surrounding ocean climate is undeterminable. The most noted example of an adverse environmental impact was evident during the NATO Shallow Water Acoustic Classification research which was done off the coast of Greece.
NATO Nations have LFA Sonar technology. And there was testing done in May of 1996 in the Ionean Sea by an (Italian) NATO Research Vessel, the Alliance. The whale deaths and the testing took place in the Kyparissiakos Gulf. Directly after that testing, more than a dozen Cuvier Beaked Whales died almost instantaneously. This information was published in 1998 when Frantzis published information regarding the causal influence of LFAS testing on the instantaneous deaths of whales which are not likely to strand in that region. NATO responded by assembling a bioacoustic panel of national experts, none of whom seem to have successfully thwarted Dr. Frantzis's assertions which appeared in an article published on March 5, 1998, in the journal Nature. Try as they might to find other reasons for the mulitiple strandings, the panel could not escape the fact that simply not enough is known about the possible destructive influence of active acoustics on these creatures. Portions of this "link" report, which is prepared by NATO's Undersea Research Centre , are considered to be non-classified and were made available for global review after October of 1998.
NATO has since experimented with a technique for targeting LFA Sonar even more sharply, allowing for increased precision at greater ranges. It is believed that this technology may now be used with even greater precision and possibly, with greater more damaging power and intensity. The information regarding this technology was published in the November 1999 issue of cientific American.
People are presently evaluating the technology. Navies, who feel it is their job to come up with innovative tools, have tried to gain approval for the controversial technology by stating it's not so bad. Glossing over potential problems is the current military strategy for ignoring realistic questions. Another technique we see with increasing regularity is to summarily dismiss all efforts to examine the potential for damage by stating that environmental concerns are "exaggerated." To the contrary, the need to use conjecture in and of itself demonstrates a lack of proficiency in understanding the potential impact of any system. The eagerness to run head-on into something which may be associated with long-term irreversible consequences invites even further speculation.
Whether or not Low Frequency Active Sonar is deployed in our oceans tomorrow will depend on the choices and lessons observed today.
Will the militaries of the world be able to respect ocean life enough to resist the use of this technology?
Currently, we have an increasingly long list of dangerous devices and tools which militaries around the globe have set aside and have elected not to use. (At least, not yet!) This is an important fact, because it is an extremely dangerous balancing act which nations must face together. As inheritors of the Post-Cold-War-Syndrome, we may continue to see questions about global conquest off-set by pledges of disarmament. Nuclear weaponry may head the list, but is quickly followed by chemical and biological weapons.
Now we are about to see technologies enter the list of unthinkable applications which world citizens will begin to insist should not be used. One such technology, LFA Sonar, is acoustic in nature. Low Frequency Active Sonar can create long term harm and in fact, during previous deployments it may have already done so.
In order for the world to have informed leaders, citizens must guide these leaders toward an understanding of what the important issues are. In a nation which is not under military seige, there are usually opportunites for discussion; for examining information, and for the gathering of many opinions prior to making any momentous decisions. It is a our simple point that choosing to introduce LFA Sonar constitutes a momentous decision. The suggestion here is that people can stop this escalation of underwater acoustic technologies from converting their off-shore "tone zones" into acoustic radiation "fry zones."
Without intervention from caring people around the globe, a further deterioration of the ocean habitat may continue unabated. In many nations,coastal reserves are already below dangerous miniumums as fishing areas have been over-fished by poachers and commercial fisheries. If we are contributing acoustics such as Low Frequency Active Sonar; then we are contributing energies so powerful that they can vibrate coral reefs, crack whales' bones and damage cellular integrity. This "sonar" is like sounding a proverbial ocean death knell.
Fortunately, our appreciation for acoustics can take us in other directions. For instance, there are tasks which adults and children can undertake together in order to evaluate a greater need for improved ocean acoustics in general. And specifically, both kids and adults can take a role in better understanding the global influence of acoustic technologies. Acoustic applications are finding their way into industry, architecture, power generation, medicine, artforms and even weather manipulation. Instead of burning fossil fuels, tomorrows most urgent needs may involvea more advanced understanding of critical acoustic technologies. Surely, there is not dispute that great possibilities exist within this field of study. And there are great responsibilities too.
Back during the early days of nuclear testing, the militaries of the world held the awesome power of the nuclear genie. And they insisted on playing with the technology before adequately testing it and knowing what they had. Places like Bikinni Atoll are testimony to the fact that dumb mistakes were made. Rushing forward with new technologies is a not always wise.
The environmental impact of acoustic technologies can not be studied in severalty from other influencing acoustics on a global scale. For just as the Blue Whale's call is heard halfway across an ocean, so too are our voices joined in sensible applications of these technologies. Therefore, let's hear it for good global leadership which grapples with the moral consequences of employing acoustic technologies! Particularly, insight and leadership are needed towards the applications associated with Low Frequency Active Sonar. Hopefully, our worldwide plea to stop the deployment of LFAS will not fall on deaf ears?
What have people done in order to express their concern over acoustic technologies, especially as regards LFAS polluting our underwater habitats and destroying marine life?
1. Some people have chosen to respond to government reports. Here are some samples of responses which were submitted to the Navy's DEIS. People wrote to the US Navy with their opinions about Low Frequency Active Sonar.
2. Some people have supported those information, wildlife and cetacean groups</A which oppose LFAS. They have done so through the purchase of gifts & joining through memberships. Alternatively, other people have contributed their time and energies to a grassroots organization called: The Stop LFAS Network
3. Several people have elected to pay closer attention to the government process of communicating with their elected leadership and to ask Congress if they know the truth about LFAS.
4. Creative children's links to interesting ideas about future applications of sound technologies in a safe marine environment. Perhaps tomorrow's children will not wish to grow-up being ignorant or naive' about the dangers of misapplied acoustic technologies. Comparative Decibels on a Looneyrhythmic Scale
5. Publicity & celebrity have begun to accumulate around the LFAS topic, as people from the famous and infamous positions are choosing to voice their opinions. Too, some leaders around the world in various fields of endeavor have tried to show others a need to show care and love for our acoustic environment.
* Dr. Marsha Green & others spoke on the Art Bell show on March 11th & 12th, 1998
* Benedick Howard on the Laura Lee Show 1998 - LFAS - Low Frequency Active Sonar
* Benedick Howard's August 6th, 1998 Simulcast Interview with Laura Lee
* Benedick Howard is Interviewed by Jeff Rense May 19, 1998 - - check the archives!
* Cheryl Magill Interview with Laura Lee About Low Frequency Active Sonar
* Bendick Howard & Others Interviewed by Jeff Rense On February 22nd Benedick Howard discussed the many adverse repercussions of low frequency sound as used by the US Navy both on shore and in our threatened oceans. This was an interview with Jeff Rense on Sightings on the Radio. Jay R. Murray and John LaForge also spoke about low frequency sound; referring to ATOC, LFAS and ELF. The interview may be heard through the Archives on the Sightings Web Site.
* Interview on Jeff Rense's Sightings Program November 12 as we discussed developments regarding Low Frequency Active Sonar, Responses to the Navy's DEIS and Mr. Lanny Sinkin's article, NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE DECEIVING PUBLIC Join Dr. Marsha Green, Mr. Lanny Sinkin, Dr. Lee Tepley and Cheryl A. Magill.
6. Creative and zealous endeavors of our truly inspried contributors would end this sequence with songs, stories and poems about LFAS and our need to further supervise the direction this technology takes. This will include interspecies communication efforts and all the many esteemed efforts to seek alternative solutions in the wake of moral ultimatums. By way of example, both of these items can be ordered through on-line vendors:
link Heartsongs of the Universe by Dawn L. Ferguson Track #10.
(Dawn's new CD is fabulous.)
Tears of the Whales (We recorded these humpback whale vocalizations directly after a LFAS transmission broadcast into the ocean on the Kona Coast of Hawaii in February, 1998.)
Tears of the whales Filling our oceans Tears of the whales I see in our seas Tears of the whales I hear you Tears of the whales I see you.
Exploding, imploding you show us our ways Exploding, imploding for how many days. Will we hurt you exploiting your ocean home? With our waste and our boats and our LFA Tones.
Crying, dying your show us our ways., Crying, dying for how many days. Will we hunt you and kill you, with your blood on our hands May your tears and your sorrow Transform man.
The greatest part of the task may rest in deciding how best to express and convey what you can do to Stop Low Frequency Active Sonar. Whatever your talents or interests! Thank you for considering options & alternatives regarding LFAS.
Cheryl A. Magill <


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