Hear the leaves falling

Even with a dozen big trees now gone from our property, there still will be a lot of leaves to fall from the many dozens of oak, elm, maple, and other trees that remain. The last few times I’ve visited the hardware and garden stores, I’ve looked over the selection of gas-powered backpack blowers, expecting I’d purchase one so that I can keep the yard clear this autumn. But in the April issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows argues against leaf blowers.

Their high volume, which I had long considered their most salient feature, is only their second-most-unusual aspect. The real marvel is the living-fossil nature of their technology. And because the technology is so crude and old, the level of pollution is off the charts.

Fallows was part of a small group of people and elected representatives to successfully advocate against leaf blowers in Washington, D.C. Kudos to them for making their communities less polluted with gas fumes and low-decibel noise.

I knew that two-stroke engines weren’t great for our environment, but I thought, wrongly, that they were getting cleaner. Fallows set me straight, and that’s enough for me to not get one of those backpack blowers. The other facts he shares—about an increase in hearing loss in the U.S. and how a blower’s motor will surely damage my ears—settles the case. I’ll be looking at the battery-powered blowers from now on, and grabbing for the metal rake that’s worked quite well for the last few years.



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