Friday, October 23, 2009

Leaf Blowers (Suck)

Saturday morning 8:00am. The leaf blowers come. Now, we sleep with our windows wide open. So we wake up. Because leaf blowers make a lot of noise. We call that "noise pollution". Especially Saturday morning at 8:00am.

Now let's review the leaf blower. It moves leafs from A to B. In fact it moves leafs away from places where they belong, namely on the ground between your plants. Once, blown on a pile, they can be shipped off. Now, leafs make humus (degraded organic material in soil). Yes, they rot, but the rotting doesn't smell bad. It's natural (really). And as an additional bonus: it makes your soil fertile.

Leaf blowing removes leafs. So now we have to ship-in degraded, other organic material (that actually does smell strongly and is probably made of your leafs in the first place). We call that mulch. In summary: we use a very noisy machine (at 8am) that uses gas to then remove organic material which is then turned into mulch that needs to be shipped back in from far away, once again, using gas. How stupid is that, given that nature has figured out ways to do that all by itself.

However, what I experienced recently went even further. The leaf blowing humanoid was directing his all-powerful blowing machine into a tree (he was a tree blower). The reason was presumably that he wanted the leafs that had turned a little brown to fall off the tree early. As it turns out, trees have evolved to figure this out all by themselves; they do not need help with that (certainly not at 8am).

One more example of how we have alienated ourselves from nature. Half a year ago or so it actually rained in Southern California. I picked up the following phrase when entering a restaurant: "I am going to move back to the desert". Rain is good for plants. In fact, rain is good for people too. So don't complain if it rains; you only have to endure it about twice per year. Try living in Sudan (no rain) or Ireland (always rain).

I worry: when my oldest child got (consciously) confronted with rain for the first time, and I explained that rain made plants grow she said in surprise: "no daddy, sprinklers make plants grow". Yes, that was actually correct. 60% of our water usage is on watering our lawns. That means that we have to drain the Colorado river to the last drop before it hits Mexico, just to water our lawns (and wash our SUVs). Actually, we also drain the west side of the Sierra's Nevada's resulting in "salt storms" in those regions. So let's get rid of those lawns now and replace them with native plants (almost don't need any watering). Additional advantage: lot's of hummingbirds in your garden!


  1. being fresh off the boat, the leaf-blowers were a rather rude shock, especially since i expected people and governments in the USA to be more environmentally conscious.
    And yet another bee in my bonnet is the large number of eucalyptus trees here. EUCALYPTUS. which is very well known for its ability to deplete the water table in no time. in the middle of the desert. this place never ceases to amaze me.

  2. Julian (COOOKIE MONSTER) YarkonyDecember 20, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    I agree a lot. I enjoy looking at hummingbirds and other pretty animals. If we had more native plants we would increase the enviroments carrying capacity. Maybe we could even plant sooo much eucalyptus and keep it flourishing through the winter (some how) that maybe the birds would decide to stay for the winter.

    Warmest regard

    Cookie Julian

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