Noise and its effects on the human constitution are major problems in modern societies.1 Approximately 20 per cent of the population of Germany are treated for aural disorders, and almost a third of all working diseases are connected to the creation of noise. In marked contrast to other environmental problems, noise is still on the increase. By the late twentieth century in the Rhine region near Cologne an already huge number of cars, trucks and other motor vehicles was still growing; new modes of transport like high-speed trains and the expansion of air traffic were harassing a heavily burdened population. At the same time newspaper correspondents were complaining about noisy leisure activities like downtown beach volleyball tournaments or the ‘acoustic pollution’ of open air concerts. But disturbing noise, caused by industry, traffic, neighbours, children and the like are not only omnipresent. They must also be seen as an intricate and multifarious sensual phenomenon – perhaps one reason why the issue has not figured prominently either in recent environmental campaigns or in environmental history.2 When the minister of Bonn’s cathedral complained about the large number of public events on the open space in front of the Church his plea for more quietness was rejected in a letter to the editor in the local press: ‘His ringing of the bells does not help to reduce noise on the Cathedral place either!’3 And when embittered residents of Cologne airport organized an Anti-NoiseMarch to the private home of the Prime Minister of NorthRhine/Westphalia in Bonn, the police ordered them to stop: the Samba-

1 A.L. Bronzaft, ‘Noise pollution: a growing world problem’, in P.J. Thompson, ed., Environmental Education for the 21st Century (Frankfurt/M., 1997), 99-108; M. Schulzke, ‘Rrruhe! Menschen im Lärm – krank, erschöpft, ruhelos’, Psychologie heute, 22, 1995, 44-9.