FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Menace of Leafblowers: a Careless Technology in Our Own Backyard

I have been a critic of technology for a long time. By technology I mean machines designed supposedly for the benefit of humanity, but, in time, have become a menace. Such machines like the airplanes, the automobile, the tractor and most of the machinery employed by the industrialized farmer came into being for making human life easier. However, in about a century these technologies threaten human life and life on the planet.

Airplanes and the automobile use petroleum, which is a major cause for global warming. And the industrialization of agriculture has been an unmitigated disaster. It brings back the dark ages in the name of efficiency and science.

How does it do that? It forces small family farmers out of agriculture. It favors large farmers and agribusiness in taking over the production of food and the political control of rural America. In addition, mechanized and chemical agriculture makes the natural world and rural America into a gigantic urban factory.

If your town is surrounded by large farms, say goodbye to civilization. Forget about schools, churches, sidewalks, parks, barber shops — much less coffee shops.

If you want to track down those causing global warming, take a look at animal farms, the thousands of holding ponds full of animal excrement and urine, and the colossal size of farms under agribusiness management. They are dumping huge amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and other global warming gases into the atmosphere.

Now talking about these large machines-real threats in the same breath with leaf blowers might be outrageous. And in some way, it is. However, I am not comparing them. My purpose is not to raise these tiny air blowers to heights they don’t deserve to be.

However, I don’t like leaf blowers. When I hear the deafening sound they make, and see the tiny dust storms they produce in order to move tree leaves from where the leaves are after falling from the trees to another place, I get very upset. A rake could do all that (move leaves) without searing sounds, dust in the air, or pollution.

If I am right that the leaf blowers are useless and hazardous, why are they everywhere? This summer I saw them in Argostoli, the capital of the island I was born, Cephalonia, in Greece. I protested and the user of the leaf blower, an employee of the local government, directed me to the vice-mayor. I did not bother.

I was also against these infernal machines in Alexandria, Virginia, where I lived for about thirty years.

But now I live in Claremont, a relatively small and beautiful town in southern California. Claremont has about 22,000 trees. These trees lower the temperature and make Claremont a livable city. They give me enormous pleasure. They are Claremont’s greatest ecological and aesthetic asset.

The roads of the Claremont are wide. In the mornings of Saturdays and Sundays those boulevards are free of cars. I bike and the breeze bathes me with cool air. I also walk everywhere. I write and do my research in the college library. On several Sundays I go to the farmers’ market.

I love Claremont.

However, the presence of leaf blowers in Claremont all but spoils my affection for this town. Seeing these machines force me to question the judgement of the home owners who pay them to do their useless but loud work. When my anger brings me to the door of some homeowner, it’s obvious the home owner is buried in TV watching, hearing neither the sound nor seeing the dust of the leaf blower. Besides, he / she will tell you these machines are harmless.

And when I speak directly to the “gardeners” using the leaf blowers, I come across enormous social and political problems of class divisions and immigration America is unwilling to tackle.

For the most part, these “gardeners” are impoverished Hispanics who don’t speak English. So my conversation with them is no conversation at all. I tell them the gasoline-powered machine they use is illegal in Claremont. While I talk to them, mostly in anger and with raised voice, they stop their machines and look at me with disbelief. After all, those employing them approve of their machines.

I raised this question at a recent forum of the Democratic Party candidates for the Claremont City Council. With the exception of one candidate who trivialized my concern, the other two blamed the town for not enforcing its own prohibition of the gasoline-powered machine.

I recommended that the town of Claremont “solve” the leaf blower problem by going directly to the homeowners: informing them they would be fined if they did not prohibit their “gardeners” from using the illegal machine.

The political candidates ignored this suggestion. This tells me the careless leaf blower technology, just like the tractor or the polluting automobile, is here to stay because it benefits its users, which include home owners, “lawn care” managers, colleges and universities, churches, and numerous other businesses.

These users, like millions of Americans, don’t see pollution, much less the natural world or people like me who are against polluting and careless technologies.

More articles by:

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail