The Quiet Gardener

With summer coming, so too come the power mowers, weed whackers, hedge trimmers, and don't forget those awful leaf blowers used "to fluff up the grass."

Graham Clark has been quietly countering this trend for years now with his gardening business, Human Power Gardening, which uses hand tools exclusively. He and his subcontractors provide an alternative to the noise and air pollution created by the power tools of other gardening businesses.

For their contribution to reduction of noise and air pollution in Vancouver, they received an award this past June from Mayor Philip Owen.

During his coverage of the story, VTV reporter Ethan Faber compared the time it took to mow a typical lawn with hand or power tools and found they were tied.

Graham can be reached at 879-4117.

The Royal British Society for the Protection of Birds has changed their phone system and now keeps waiting callers entertained with bird songs. Some callers specifically ask to be put on hold just to hear the twittering song birds of Great Britain.

Jet Skis

Ever since the introduction of jet skis, activists have been battling back against their noise as well as their noxious fumes and ever-present danger, and have won bans or operating restrictions on dozens of waterways. The US National Park Service announced restrictions on the use of jet skis in national parks effective April 20, 2000. Reasons for the tight regulations included oil leaks, damage to national park waterways, noise levels, and disruption to waterfowl, vulnerable sea grasses and aquatic life.

The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse (NPC) has recently produced a comprehensive resource entitled Drowning in Noise: Noise Costs of Jet Skis in America. It paints a devastating portrait of the noise annoyance costs of jet skis. The NPC describes the work as follows:

Drowning in Noise is the product of two years of research and analysis by an innovative public policy economist and an accomplished applied mathematician. Drawing on a wide array of scientific disciplines, Charles Komanoff and Howard Shaw have quantified, in dollars, the extent to which noise from jet skis degrades a quintessential American experience: A day at the beach.The authors find that jet skis will wreak an estimated $900 million in noise annoyance costs on beachgoers this year, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars of additional noise costs to water recreationists and shoreline property owners. The report also documents that "minimum-distance" rules are only modestly effective, while supposedly quieter new models won't put much of a dent in the noise burden. The only way to slash the noise costs of jet skis, the authors find, is to ban them from as many waters as possible.The jet ski industry contends that jet skis are no more disturbing than conventional watercraft. The authors explain, and quantify, how the varying noise output due to jet skis leaving and re- entering the water is far more intrusive than the relatively constant noise from motorboats. They show precisely how and why jet ski noise is different.

In light of the foregoing, it is unfortunate that a certain Canadian federal politician deems it acceptable and trendy to show up for an interview riding a jet ski on Okanagan Lake. Federal legislators are responsible for protecting the environment from assault, not encouraging it.

For a copy of Drowning in Noise, or for help in documenting and controlling jet ski noise costs in your area, contact Les Blomberg, at the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, 1-888-200- 8332.

Entire contents © 2001 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society

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