Think globally on climate, act locally on leaf blowers

Read the full post from the Regulatory Review. See also a 2008 study on VOC emissions from leaf blowers in the Chicago metro area.

As nations gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last fall for the latest United Nations climate conference, the language of complex international climate negotiations—“loss and damage,” “nationally determined contributions,” “global stocktake”—can seem far removed from the realities of our day-to-day life. For the growing chorus of people concerned about climate change but unsure of the next steps to avert climate disaster, listen to the noise emanating from the yard next door. We should work collectively to regulate, and ultimately ban, gas-powered leaf blowers in our neighborhoods.

Consider what happens every fall in my new hometown of Atlanta. It is a time of crisp days, stunning foliage, and cool nights. Sadly, Atlanta’s autumn beauty is too often disrupted by the ear-splitting sound of gas-powered leaf blowers. Every morning, landscaping companies deploy these gigantic beasts across the city, strapped to workers’ backs like dystopian World War II-era flamethrowers. The enemies are Atlanta’s leaves, and the leaf-blowers are determined to disrupt office Zoom calls, infants’ naps, and the peace and tranquility of your home.

What is so wrong with these gas-powered monstrosities? Let me count the ways.

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