Windschmerz: Can Nature Survive “Green” Energy?

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This is the aptly-named Hatchet Ridge, a formerly nice vista between Mt. Shasta & Lassen, CA. It was built by the same outfit that ruined the view from Great Basin National Park.

A newly coined word, windschmerz, describes the sinking feeling of witnessing a huge industrial plague being spun as good for the environment despite its obvious negative impacts. If this is the new environmentalism, nature has little chance of remaining intact, on top of all the other pressures Man applies. Wind power has gained a momentum that’s hard to stop because an Environmental Industrial Complex has grown around it. When thousands or millions of jobs depend on something, moral objectivity becomes nearly impossible. Germany has been a test-case for this misguided form of progress with its Energiewende mandate that caused alarm decades ago with only a fraction of today’s turbine numbers. The landscape destruction is so egregious that many people literally can’t perceive what they’re seeing, especially if their incomes depend on it. A whole government/industry PR wing is dedicated to muting the continual protests over new projects.

Windschmerz is a variant of weltschmerz (world pain or sadness) focused on a specific technology that’s destroying nature while claiming to save the planet. Are there any safe vistas where the wind blows? The industry seems happy to keep trashing scenery and wildlife until these eyesores are too thick for even the most deluded Greens. It used to be conservatives who didn’t respect landscapes but liberals have been successfully brainwashed by these scenery-eaters. It happened on the sly without adequate warning, mainly in Europe at first. Clean energy is looking quite dirty to objective eyes.

No matter how many zealots call them “beautiful,” wind turbines will always impact millions of people and animals in negative ways. The industry wants to expand what we see today by orders of magnitude if they can get away with it. These machines are a colossal aesthetic blunder that doesn’t require number-crunching to analyze. All you need is eyes, ears and environmental awareness. They aren’t replacing older industrial scars like coal mines; they’re just adding to the total human impact. The moment wind turbines began expanding beyond their experimental beginnings and corporations got involved, it was inevitable that this would happen. The goal is to make them as tall as possible to catch elusive winds, which means they will never become less visible. It’s also a pipe dream that they can be made quiet or safe for flying animals. Most people in the industry must know this, which makes them doubly full of it.

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One of the few locations where wind turbines don’t look out of place, though these are not the largest models. Seen at ground level they still loom over most structures.

Wind energy is the opposite of small-footprint thinking that real environmentalists should favor. It appeals to an engineering mindset that coldly destroys nature while raking in subsidy money. The big excuse is that carbon has become THE environmental demon, but many wind farm workers could be swapped with frackers, especially in the trucking, road-building and crane rigging sectors. They are industrial mercenaries who do what they’re told and cash their checks. At least the old environmental villains weren’t overtly trying to fool people.

The next time you look at a horizon full of mutant pinwheels and windschmerz hits you, just let it happen. Then get angry and join the fight to stop them. Here are some links to help with that.

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A scene suited to an H.G. Wells novel, with people as the enemy. Green word salads can’t mask this ugliness.

Blight for Naught: Wind Turbines and the Rationalized Desecration of Scenery

“To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.”  – Aldo Leopold *

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This mountaintop removal is praised by wind geeks who claim to hate coal mines. Wind projects don’t remove as much material but they prominently industrialize ridges.

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Early explorers would have seen this as an enemy gauntlet, and modern gut reactions are similar. There should be a penalty for ruining unbroken vistas.

Unsettling numbers of environmentalists fail to see that wind turbines are enemies of nature posing as saviors. Ruining the countryside with obscenely large towers is a denial continuum of the “build, build, build!” mentality that’s destroyed nature throughout history. It’s the towering, spinning version of “drill, baby, drill!” and supply-side ideology. Wind energy promoters are desperate to believe that their emperor isn’t an ungainly giant who cuts down trees, blasts ridges, kills airborne animals and tortures ground-based ones with blight and noise. They claim to be environmentalists but they’re mainly about non-fossil energy and new income streams. The presumption that nothing is workable unless someone’s profiting is a big part of the problem. Personal restraint and conservation are anti-revenue concepts that don’t sit well with a greedy populace.

The original point of environmentalism was buffering nature from all human intrusions and toxins, not just fighting a specific type of pollution (that allows pseudo-green machines to exist). Wind cheerleaders have decided that giant, mechanical weeds are green because they “must” be green. Reason and restraint were once central to ecological thinking and one wonders if younger environmentalists really understand what “the environment” is, beyond AGW. They should revisit the history of physical landscape destruction, which has entered a major new phase with wind power. Nature has a bleak future unless this industry is restrained quickly. It’s a tragic case of blight for naught when you see how ineffectual wind turbines really are. An all-electric economy may never be possible without earthbound nuclear fusion in portable configurations. The sun’s fusion reaction is the original solar, hydro and wind energy source.

Landscape-change denial has become as bad as climate-change denial. Along with their insidious noise, large industrial wind turbines are creating an unprecedented visual plague on the planet, with over a quarter million already installed as of 2016, Nothing else is as tall, widespread, stark and kinetic. There’s no precedent for machines of this size and quantity, especially in the scenic areas they’ve invaded. Their closest rivals are offshore oil rigs, which are far less numerous, not seen from inland areas, and not designed for permanence. Some future schemes call for nearly 4 million wind turbines but backlash is already strong because people can no longer ignore their presence.

Note: If you’re a wind power pusher who’ll ignore the content on this page, click here for a one sentence summary (or a shorter version).

Quasi-environmentalists keep repeating the same rationalizations for this growing blight on finite scenery. Here are some common propaganda tactics, with responses.

  1. We think wind turbines are beautiful.” When you call something beautiful you must do it in the context of what it replaced, altered, devalued or ignored. You can’t expect others to accept something absurdly large and kinetically distracting as the new normal. Rare wind turbines in urban settings can be interesting, but most end up in rural areas where they upset the historical sense of place. A number of soulless people have never respected nature’s grandeur without man-made “improvements.” It tends to be a Creationist or anthropocentric engineering mindset. Wind turbines are the biggest structures being forced onto landscapes by the same types who dammed rivers before they dammed air. Some of them claim to hate hydro power but water is much more efficient at powering generators, and dams make lakes, which are at least found in nature. They lament fish killed by dams but excuse wind turbines for killing birds & bats. Some of them trip up and say power lines are ugly while ignoring major new ones needed for remote wind sites. Where’s the moral consistency? Nothing in nature looks like wind turbines or flashes red lights all night. In the overrun UK, people are rightfully comparing them to War Of The Worlds tripods or marauding Triffids. In rural landscapes it goes against evolution to accept mechanical monsters as normal or desirable.
  2. Would you rather live near a coal mine or wind farm?” This is a mostly meaningless diversion, since far more people are dealing with visible wind turbines now. Mines tend to be hidden at depth or obscured by ridges, whereas wind turbines are deliberately prominent. Wind sites are not limited by geology and sprawl wherever they’re justified, adding to the total historical blight. Few people predicted the eventual size of these machines but it’s central to what ails them, plus their growing quantity. Even fracking is much less vertically intrusive and its sites can be restored (water is a separate issue). Wind turbines are put wherever the wind blows, and it’s often nice country that wouldn’t have been touched by other energy developments. The wind-mob knows that many people resent the blight but they keep rationalizing the spread of their machines. Their money/subsidy motivations are covered in depth elsewhere.
  3. They will replace fossil fuels and help stop global warming.” This also fails the evidence test, since wind turbines merely stretch fossil fuels by using them to create a different, less efficient form of energy uptake. There are analogies to a hydrogen economy that needs fossil fuels to extract it, so why bother with the middleman. You can’t build or transport such absurdly large machines with electric power; you need heavy mining & smelting equipment and big diesel trucks to move them around. Due to wind’s intermittent nature, wind power can’t work on the grid without a backup energy source, often gas, coal or nuclear. In many cases (e.g. Germany) it’s been shown that CO2 emissions have actually risen as backup plants are installed in new areas to accommodate fickle wind patterns.
  4. We can carefully site wind turbines to minimize their impact.” If this was ever true, why would there be so much resistance to almost every new wind project? In its 1970s infancy there were few protests because people saw it as a limited scale experiment, but the monster escaped its cage and there are only so many places to put them now, with fewer remaining options after every new installation. Too much land is already developed and wind power just adds to existing blight. Wind energy advocates think their giant machines can’t be ugly due to a righteous anti-carbon message (mostly psychological) but landscape blight didn’t vanish as an issue just because global warming took center stage. Turbine apologists say that smokestacks are ugly but wind towers just add blades to the same general structure. The industry talks of making towers even bigger to work in lower wind areas, and concrete may become a means to that end, with a more smokestack-like appearance. Will they keep calling them beautiful? Some wind drones do admit that turbines blight landscapes, and they think offshore wind factories are the answer, but it’s not cost effective to install them at a distance where they can’t be seen from shore. Many people see an unbroken ocean horizon as a basic right. Where else can you look to “infinity” without disruption? Ocean-based turbines also tend to be the largest models and harder to hide. See calculators for visibility vs. height and distance.
  5. Wind turbines occupy relatively little acreage.” A popular scientist repeated this lie in 2014. It’s based on the disingenuous claim that tower-bases are the only land & ocean space physically affected by these looming machines. It shows that the wind industry has much in common with those who want to drill for oil in ANWR, citing “only 2,000” affected acres that actually sprawl over 1.5 million acres. A number of environmental groups support wind turbines yet understand the ANWR ruse, so who are they kidding? See this NRDC ANWR map vs. their hypocritical platitudes on wind turbines. The Union of Concerned Scientists also tows that line, apparently unconcerned with scenery. Any sprawling industrial complex has a footprint of its total encompassed acreage, including access roads. The whole area becomes aesthetically tainted. Many wind “farms” now exceed 30,000 acres and their extreme height and visibility are the obvious issues. The industry also pretends home values aren’t affected when turbines are in the viewshed, even miles away. A number of people have simply moved away, as they might with any lousy, permanent neighbor. Such large machines are difficult to remove for legal and financial reasons (e.g. Falmouth, MA) but there was a notable victory in France based largely on aesthetic damage. Those who claim turbines can be a bridge technology, later dismantled, are not facing facts. Their roads and cement bases may remain for centuries and the enormous energy put into building them is wasted now.
  6. Rich people just don’t want their view spoiled.” With this canard, the wind-mob plays the common-man sympathy card while crassly trivializing the importance of scenery to quality of life. It’s also a Freudian-slip admission that “wind turbines are beautiful” is a lie, unless only the rich have aesthetic values. Some of these drones think tarnished scenery is a penance for fossil fuel use. Who are they to claim that unreliable wind turbines are a mandated electricity source? The subsidy-hungry industry pushes the same growthist agenda as the rest of the economy, using green sales pitches to create a sense of urgency (Vermont is a prime example, with mountains pointlessly threatened). Do windsters really believe that only rich people care about nature and nice views? Think about how nutty and reactionary that is. Some very humble people live in scenic areas and wind companies often target cash-strapped farmers to bribe them with royalties. Rural residents get caught in situations where neighbors are paid to host turbines while they get zero but are stuck living near them. A turbine could be 10 feet from a property line and do nothing for the landowner but loom, rumble and flash red lights all night. A number of wind executives are rich themselves, and how many would live near their own contraptions? T. Boone Pickens didn’t want turbines on his own land when pushing a Texas wind power scheme. He literally called them ugly.
  7. Cats kill more birds than wind turbines.” That’s only true in the context of how birds were being killed before wind turbines grew like a plague. There are no house-cats in many areas where wind turbines are installed, and the species of birds are often different, e.g. migratory or raptors. Cats don’t kill airborne birds passing through. And don’t forget bats, which can’t escape wind turbine blades via sonar. Bats die from pressure shocks as the blades narrowly pass by, and nothing else typically has that effect. Why would any “green” technology be killing animals on a regular basis? The wind-mob generally ignores such ethical questions (gotta stop carbon by any means, even at the expense of nature itself).
  8. People who complain about wind turbine noise are NIMBY liars.” This is a puerile denial of the obvious. You can’t honestly claim that gigantic machines, which intercept large masses of air, won’t affect the soundscape. Listen to the air-roar of a mere 20″ box fan, then ask yourself how something vastly larger with a driven generator can be quiet. The noise issue is complex in its manifestations and topography, yet fundamentally simple. The industry uses the complex parts to distract from obvious impacts, especially in opinion polls with cherry-picked residents. Infrasound causes some very unpleasant effects and can be hard to measure with standard equipment, but clearly the audible noise is bad enough. It needn’t be super loud, either, just unnatural or jarring, like a dripping faucet that would barely register on a dB meter but can prevent sleep. The typical industry excuse is that they aren’t louder than a refrigerator, but who hasn’t been kept awake by a refrigerator in the same room, e.g. a motel? A related, equally dishonest angle is “I usually see wind turbines at a distance and never hear them.” Do these people think wind turbines have a magic motility that always makes them far away and quiet to a given observer? Why do they think setback distance from homes is a chronic problem?
  9. Some right-wing climate deniers are against wind power, therefore that’s everyone’s motive.” This is an association fallacy or hasty generalization. Why assume that landscapes and quiet nights aren’t important to millions of Democrats and other random people? Wind turbines are very large machines built where nobody really expected them. Some things are offensive on a gut level no matter how much green propaganda is thrown around. Wind turbines are an example of something that can be done with applied engineering skills, but ought not be, for moral reasons. They aren’t as dangerous as nuclear weapons (another case of hubris gone mad) but they are “blowing up” scenery in many ways. Wiser alternatives should be getting the bulk of subsidies. See the bottom of this post.
  10. Wind turbine advocates are good environmentalists.” Only because they say so, as they continue wrecking landscapes while yammering about how beautiful or majestic their machines are. Climate change concerns don’t make scenery ruination any less of an issue. The environment is intrinsically linked to its physical horizons all around us. People plant trees and grass in cities because we evolved in nature and don’t want it obliterated by buildings and machines. The industry’s growth is decades past the point where there’s some balance between the number (and size) of wind turbines and the fundamental need for nice scenery. German academics saw this coming in 1998 but landscape apathy prevailed and things are much worse now. Each new “farm” (aka factory) eats into more space that wasn’t tainted by huge machines, unnatural noise and light pollution. When you witness their common detachment from nature, it’s clear that many wind engineers, truckers, crane operators and maintenance workers could easily segue into fossil fuel extraction. People who make a living by corrupting nature are an apathetic breed. Real environmentalists are conscientious on many levels and don’t ignore blight of this magnitude.
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An 88.4 meter blade is elaborately hauled in Denmark via fossil fuels, which also power the rest of the process. The EROI seems nil in terms of replacing oil, at least.

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A lot of blasting, logging, road building, concrete and crane rigging is needed for each tower. All of it requires fossil fuels, as does initial manufacturing and maintenance.

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Propaganda images never show the true scale of wind turbines. Everything’s Kumbaya in these greendustrial parks. The oil business uses similar tricks to blindside the public.

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Crude photos use cherry-picked locations and perspective to frame wind turbines as inconspicuous or irrelevant. People who actually respect scenery would not lie by omission.

Below is an example of wind industry propaganda and arrogance from wind-energy-the-facts.org, which echoes awea.org. The .org domain is also a ruse since wind power is clearly commercial.

“The effects of landscape and visual impact cannot be measured or calculated and mitigation measures are limited. However, experience gained recently suggests that opposition to wind farms is mainly encountered during the planning stage. After commissioning the acceptability is strong.” (source)

They start with the specious claim that blight “cannot be measured or calculated” in a technical sense, which ignores aesthetic gut reactions. There is no official ugly scale, but ugly is still ugly! Much smaller cellular towers or office buildings can spoil views and are often disguised as trees or shrunk to fit their surroundings. You can’t do that with wind turbines so they resort to propaganda. That first lie sets up the ruse that opposition to industrialized scenery is mostly temporary. They claim “after commissioning the acceptability is strong” but cite no objective polls. A more likely scenario is that people give up fighting and just try to cope, like Indians beaten down and trapped in reservations. At least that article admits that “mitigation measures are limited,” which is a dry way of stating that you can’t un-see or un-hear huge towers all over the place, so you either cope or move. The wind business forces itself onto rural communities and expects them to adopt a Stockholm Syndrome mindset. Gag orders are apparently placed on landowners as part of their turbine-hosting agreements (almost everyone has a price) and upbeat polls ask if people favor “renewable energy” without specifying its ugliest component. Articles and forums supporting wind power are constantly ignoring or downplaying its aesthetic damage to scenery and the animals it kills. A truly green business wouldn’t need so many cover stories. They’re filling the fields, mountains and oceans with colossal, noisy, flashing towers and acting like it’s easily ignored (see cognitive dissonance). Engineers are generally not stupid people, so they’re either lying to themselves or have chosen to disrespect nature.

Stop calling this growing blight

There are over 250,000 of these eyesores as of 2016, and some wind zealots want to see up to 3.8 million. They are far more interested in megawatts than rural scenery.

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If these were suddenly looming above your town and spewing noise, would you call them magnificent or maleficent? If those hills could speak would they choose such defilement?

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The wind power industry claims home values aren’t affected by horizons full of machines that hijack serenity. Just apply some common sense here! Many people simply move.

You can’t reach hardened wind power advocates with aesthetic arguments. Many of them don’t intrinsically respect nature because they’re anthropocentric technophiles and neo-environmentalists. They probably spend far more time looking at computer screens than physical horizons. Maintenance of the technological world and its power grid is their top priority, with nature as a quaint distraction, or a backdrop for extreme sports. The height of wind turbines plays into the bungee-jumping, thrillseeker mindset and they get fascinated with the ability to build something that large. Ancient concern for nature is lost in their awe of Man’s hubris (not unique to wind turbines, but they’re top dog now). Windnuts share many traits with the wingnut climate deniers they claim to despise; always pushing for more gigawatts and construction projects. Instead of protecting nature from people, now it’s about sustaining what people built with fossil fuels, using much weaker forms of energy that require vast acreage. If landscapes must be trashed for the “greener good,” they’re fine with it. Way to go, you soulless idiots! Pursuing a nature-wrecking technology in the name of environmentalism is dystopian irony at its worst. Wind power just escalates Man’s historical plundering of nature and the Manifest Destiny mindset. It squanders our last chance to conserve and downsize per countless warnings about carrying-capacity overload.

Wind turbine manufacturers compete to see who can build the biggest eyesores. Watch some of these videos where they take pride in looming as tall as possible over the countryside. Anything green is long forgotten in those brag-fests. It’s become a bloated excuse for manufacturing, mining, logging, blasting, road building, trucking and crane rigging jobs. That’s what it takes to get huge machines installed in the hundreds of thousands, eventually millions if madness prevails. Too bad they can’t try it on a different planet instead of experimenting on the public and wildlife. Maybe there’s a planet Enercon (emphasis on the con) or a planet Vestas with no natural vistas. There’s also something sinister about the word Iberdrola, like a disease that’s also a corporation. Not only are they in the wind business, they’re vested in a controversial hydroelectric dam in Brazil. Groups like Greenpeace oppose them for that but not for wind power blight. Where’s the moral consistency?

In case you think this is a rant with no hope, I’m all for rooftop & parking-lot solar panels or putting them over train tracks and canals. They are much greener than wind monsters because they don’t increase the human footprint, which was never solely about carbon until recent attitudes took hold. Geothermal is another good renewable source, along with small, non-dense wind turbines (under 50 feet tall) and safer forms of nuclear power. The whole centralized model of building “energy farms” and moving electricity over long transmission lines (additional sources of blight) needs to end. True green = small footprint. But unless people practice restraint and use more birth control, our long-term existence on this planet won’t be guaranteed by any technology. Fossil fuels built this whole mess and it will be hard to sustain without them. The whole notion that there “must be a solution” is countered by historical evidence of human greed and shortsightedness. This modern energy quagmire vs. the scale of growing needs aka overpopulation is unprecedented. Very large machines in the countryside are a new phase of urban sprawl that leaves many of us speechless. Ecocide, Phase 2 is a good term for it. If these were housing developments or freeways, most environmentalists would oppose them for destroying open space! In light of these inexplicable new values, some ecological thinkers have resigned themselves to the continued destruction of nature by old and new technologies. Wind power is actually an old technology, rebooted in the worst way.

General web search for wind power opposition groups and antidotes to industry propaganda. The media has done a poor job of reporting both sides of the wind energy story, but the tide seems to be turning as these giant machines reach a critical mass. Hopefully there will be a global moratorium on further construction, at least on mountaintops, where wind turbines are the most disrespectful. Subsidies in various nations have already been cut back as the ruse reveals itself, but there needs to be an “outrage clause” that stops them for nature’s sake alone.

Interactive map of U.S. wind projects. This is a good way to see how large these “farms” are, and debunk minimal land use claims (point 5 above). You can drive over 50 miles in some places and always see turbines. The industry wants to keep making them taller so they’ll work in lower wind areas. Scenery be damned is the general consensus.

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Map of U.S. wind projects, totaling around 50,000 turbines as of September 2016 (source). They want to invade lower wind regions with even taller, uglier machines.

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Nothing else looms on rural horizons like these glaring, spinning machines. Views are affected from many angles and distances. Farmers mainly tolerate them for revenue.

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The environmental impact of water dams is rarely disputed but air dams are praised as progress. If giant wind machines had been built first, would people think the opposite?

“That ain’t progress, that’s shit!” Fictional character Lewis Medlock echoes real views on water dams, which aren’t much different in principle than air dams. You can have large generators at ground level or smaller ones inside large towers in much greater numbers. Which is really worse? One kills swimming animals and the other kills flying ones. They both disrupt nature and neither emits standard pollutants (after construction) yet few people call hydro-power Green. If you’re against damming rivers, why make excuses for damming the sky? Wind power is a hasty reaction to the fossil fuel dilemma, not our sole choice on this scale. The definition of the word clean contains “morally uncontaminated; pure; innocent,” which is the opposite of scenery fouled by wind turbines. “Clean energy” has become dirty propaganda.

The anti-fracking movie, Promised Land, was originally going to be about wind turbines. They ought to do a sequel since the public is still largely duped by wind hype, thanks to media soft-pedaling. Both industries convert scenic, quiet places into energy factories and know it will disrupt lives, so they use slick propaganda. But fracking is much less visible at a distance than wind power and its lands can be restored, though water issues plague it.

* It’s unlikely that famous conservationists & naturalists like Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, Ansel Adams, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, et al., would have welcomed this assault on landscapes. As an example, the John Muir Trust (a Scottish legacy charity) is against wind turbines in any sort of wilderness area, but they’re fighting a tough battle. Even iconic Loch Ness is threatened by wind energy now. It’s discouraging to see modern environmentalists buy into the weak benefits of a bloated, unreliable power source that can never solve fundamental energy shortages.

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Even if World War X is avoided, the planet will get much uglier if the wind power madhouse isn’t shut down. They’ve already been built directly on beaches.

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One does not simply create Mordor with wind turbines and write it off as “green.”

End note: This author isn’t a global warming denier, but wind power should not be a linchpin of climate strategy. It’s taking us in the opposite direction of conservation, restraint and humility. Nature’s been telling us to downsize and a smart species would pay attention.

This page will be updated at random with new information.

Peace and Quiet should be a RIGHT, not a luxury.

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Respect the Silence

Noise is arguably the biggest daily irritant in the modern world. It’s caused by a combination of industrialization, overpopulation, mass media culture and selfish attitudes. The human nervous system never evolved to cope with amplified electronic and vehicular noises. Those who claim that noise is “just part of modern life” are ignoring where we came from. Noise pollution is the biggest outward manifestation of bad neighbors. The effects of noise usually get more irritating as you age, develop calmer tastes and realize humanity won’t change much. It’s become a life-altering nuisance for hundreds of millions of people.

Units with shared-walls have the most obvious noise problems but the ability of humans to be obnoxious under any circumstance is legendary. People often move to rural areas hoping for tranquil surroundings, only to realize some idiot 100 yards away thinks the relative isolation gives them a “right” to broadcast noise much further than urban zones allow. There are extremists like the Colorado thug who made news in 2011 for driving off prospective neighbors with a sign boasting of loud vehicles and parties. Others are more random with their disturbances but show similar lack of respect.

Disregard for neighbors can be outwardly belligerent or subtle and passive-aggressive. Chronic noise perpetrators tend to play the victim and re-frame complaints against them as harassment when the converse is true. By nature they are rude and impossible to reason with. Noise-makers fail to respect The Commons, the physical middle ground that unrelated people must share. Noise can invade that space just like bright lights or bad smells.


A note on earplugs and white noise machines:

Some noisy punks casually tell neighbors to wear earplugs and stop complaining. Even if that wasn’t an evil attitude it has many practical downsides. For starters, nobody has a right to restrict the enjoyment of full hearing! It’s like asking people to wear blindfolds so they don’t see your trash-strewn yard. Also, earplugs can prevent you from hearing vital sounds like alarm clocks, smoke detectors, breaking glass or watch dogs. Strong earplugs also make one’s heartbeat audible, which can cause insomnia. Masking external sounds with white or brown noise generators is only effective to a point and can’t do much about gut-felt bass. Noise masking is mostly suited for blended ambient noise or distant traffic sounds, not direct neighbor intrusions.

Growing noise problems in rural and wild areas:

The introduction of car-like stereos in powerboats is part of a trend that makes shrinking wilderness harder to enjoy. Who thinks they have a right to spew loud subwoofer bass over water where it can carry like a skipping bullet? This is often done on lakes where people go to enjoy the scenery, not just trashy reservoirs. Another tragic phenomenon is the forcing of giant wind turbines onto rural lands in the name of “protecting our environment for future generations.” Even if their visual blight wasn’t bad enough, these 300 to 500 foot turbines generate infrasound and other noise that prevents many people from sleeping. Wind Turbine Syndrome is no joke but the industry denies it by cherry-picking locals who aren’t directly affected or are paid to keep turbines on their land.

Common noise problems with potential solutions:

1) The irritant factor of loud music is a given, but even “low level” subwoofers are a nuisance since bass goes through walls when other frequencies may not. Many noise ordinances were written before discreetly amplified bass existed in consumer gear. Large older speakers certainly had bass, but subwoofers emphasize it without equalization and it carries further. (c)Rap and other modern forms of music also have more bass content. SolutionUse headphones if you play any sort of moderate to loud music in a shared-wall situation, or where it can escape your house. Turn off your boom car stereo when you pull into a neighborhood. No music should have to be heard through walls, period. It’s easy to lock on to subtle, unwanted patterns which make sleep or relaxation impossible. Wind Turbine Syndrome is a similar concept. Some sounds are much harder to ignore than others. Psychological torture can be inflicted at levels that don’t register on decibel meters. You have to live it to understand it.

2) People recklessly slam doors, not thinking about how the building reverberates each time. SolutionDoors can be closed with controlled force vs. mindless slamming. It just takes giving a damn about your neighbors.

3) People (especially on top floors) walk and stomp, not caring that vibrations transmit to lower floors. Kids often run around like it’s a playground. SolutionJust make some effort to not walk heavily on top floors, and calm your kids down. Because of floor construction, some disturbances are inevitable but intent matters a lot.

4) People lose their tempers and broadcast their domestic yelling and fighting noises to other units. Solution: Be aware that your social life is not the center of the universe. Save your brawls for inside a car, or anywhere away from home. Get your personality in order so you don’t spend half your life bickering.

5) Even normal voices seem louder at night as city traffic declines and ambient noise drops. Solution: Make an effort to talk quietly at night, just as if you had a baby sleeping in the other room. A simple matter of common courtesy.

6) Loud exhaust systems can wake an apartment complex or neighborhood as shift workers depart and arrive. SolutionMany aftermarket pipes are illegal but get installed anyway. Shallow, insecure people strive to be loud for some extra horsepower or to maintain a biker image (see Harley vs. Hoover joke). If you rigged your vehicle to be loud, just undo the modifications out of common decency.

7) Apartment managers often schedule leaf blowers and lawn mowers for morning hours like 7 or 8 a.m., disrespecting anyone who sleeps later than that. Solution: Landscaping companies need to deliberately work later shifts, or use quieter machines with sound insulation or 4-stroke engines (they exist but tend to cost more).


Links for further reading: