Photo credit: Timothy Valentine licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

There’s an old adage that every cloud has a silver lining, but I’ve always been skeptical about that. For example, I don’t think there is really any silver lining to the COVID-19 cloud that has disrupted life in the U.S. and worldwide, but maybe I’m wrong.

We did learn how much anthropogenic noise we make, in our cities, our skies, and our oceans, and how both people and animals thrived in their newfound quiet. And perhaps another silver lining is that people working from home instead of their offices now realize how loud and disruptive gas-powered leaf blowers are.

In Montclair and many other small cities and towns in New Jersey, that knowledge led to political pressure on elected officials, which in turn has led to leaf blower bans.

In California, where I live, the compelling issue is air pollution. Small gasoline engines emit smog-causing pollutants as well as noise. A proposal to ban small gasoline engines by 2024 is pending before the California Air Resources Board.

Whether it’s noise pollution or air pollution, both of which are linked, a quieter, cleaner environment will be good for all.