The Loudness Wars (and leaf blowers)

In an earlier post complaining about excessive noise I briefly mentioned the trends within music. The Loudness Wars: Why Music Sounds Worse : NPR has more interesting details on this include some real stats (sadly using only the top song from each year rather than some sort of average). There’s a Wikipedia article now, Loudness war. Some more anecdotes can be found in an article from the Times Online.

The comfort for me in all this is that people seem to be really realizing that this is a problem and ruining the quality of music, and so maybe we are or soon will hit a peak and then trend back to something more reasonable. Don’t even get me started on people using earbuds whose music can still be heard by others.

Leaf Blowers

Last week I was also reminded of something that’s been bothering me for years, leaf blowers. I’d describe a leaf blower as something that accomplishes the same thing as a rake, but with the added benefit of costing more, taking much longer, requiring more effort, using gas or electricity (cost and pollution), and making a ton of noise. A quick search online for ban “leaf blowers” shows that I am very far from being the only one with this opinion. It appears that a lot of people are working to get them banned, and in some places have succeeded. Let’s hope that spreads.

I did my usual Facebook check and there are tons of anti-leaf-blower groups, with fewer than a couple hundred people in most of them. The Clean Air California website seems to be aiming to ban them statewide or even US-wide. Here (sorta) in Toronto I see an article on a motion to ban them in 2007 which failed for what seems like pathetic reasons including industry lobbying, 6 years after the previous attempt to ban them.

Looking at the leaf blower issue turned up the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, which seems to be perhaps the American equivalent of the Canadian advocacy site I linked to in my previous post. Last year I attended a lecture at Town Hall Seattle by Gordon Hempton who started the One Square Inch of Silence project, not a bad idea but more significant for it’s symbolism than the one particular place. I don’t have any real conclusion here, I’m just complaining in my usual, not-really-doing-anything-about-the-problem way.

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2 Responses to The Loudness Wars (and leaf blowers)

  1. We are another, long-standing anti-leaf blower group. Use our site for information. Zero Air Pollution is the grassroots group that helped secure a ban on gas blowers in Los Angeles over ten years ago. Since then, we have supervised our public service website, in order to educate the public, the press, and politicians about the history of our ban, and to encourage compliance with this law. We present health and economic facts about all leaf blower use. The site also has our responses to erroneous claims made by ban opponents. Those erroneous claims are still being used today, as are the same ploys to stop or hinder a blower ban. We DO need to update and link to new grassroots groups around the country, and to leaf blower videos such as (Rake vs Blower) and others.

  2. mfagan says:

    Neat, thanks for the info and link to the video.

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