Jim Nollman writes……….

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Those of us private contractors hired to confront the Navy’s whale-killing acoustics, sometimes spoke about active sonar to our bosses as an “out-of-scale” technology. The term describes a technology that possesses a rather unique type of flaw which is neither mechanical nor acts as an impediment to its proscribed purpose. Out-of-scale is a euphemism that describes hardware that is innately dangerous to the environment in which we all live.

Those of us working on the whale issue, got nowhere with Navy policy makers when describing their much-admired sonar as innately ”dangerous”. So we invented the term “out-of-scale” to describe acoustic technology that compromised the environment simply by doing what it is supposed to do. It was dangerously loud, impossible to control the range of this danger, and therefore could not be used anywhere life existed, without producing collateral damage.

Is this starting to sound familiar?

The Growlers are another of the US Navy’s out-of-scale technologies. The planes probably do most everything the Navy had hoped they would do. But to attain that success, Navy procurers had to have made a committee decision to overlook the unintentional flaw that causes it to destroy the acoustic environment for a vastly out-of-scale 10 or more miles in every direction. It was built despite pre-knowledge of acoustic collateral damage.

One might wonder if on the day the Navy buyers bought the plane, they overlooked the out-of-scale flaw by agreeing to agree, against their understanding of systems testing, that this machine would only ever be used on aircraft carriers, well out of hearing of the public. Or perhaps they looked in the mirror and saw themselves as hardheaded warriors, who must learn to accept collateral damage as a horrible but unavoidable aspect of modern warfare.

This technology is now on Whidbey Island flaunting its flaw by destroying real communities and real lives. The constancy of the noise verifies the Navy’s belief that the collateral damage is still within acceptable limits. And all the other things these Growlers provide, remain more important to DoD policy makers than the people who live on Whidbey Island. If it were otherwise, they would be phasing out the Growler program, not expanding it.

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  1. Nora

    I am sittings as I have most of the day in front of my screen waiting for some sensible response to what has been god awful day of enduring the noise
    I live on the very most southern end of Lopez Island- I arrived here exactly two years ago December 27th anticipating retreat
    Your accuracy of design implementation results and then the human and environment abandon is vivid- as so many written accounts of thought or plea
    My mind today stretched to the imagined whole picture being an artist deep thinker and beyond sensitive concluded nothing can prevent what is in our path. To suggest the spotted Owl as an endangered species is not even good enough to start with as I am thinking suicide when my life and health are impacted so severely. I came here totally invested – I have what to leave with and how to ?
    Today the planes were active from 6 am till 10pm growlers starting at 2:30 pm and non stop till 10pm as possibly they just shut down
    My entire body is pulsing with frayed nerve sensation. I keep thinking of hell . That I watched the resident bald eagles fly unison today to one as the growler flew over the male flew off in jared fear.

  2. liz

    Dearest Nora,

    You are not alone….Many, many of us feel or have felt the same way. When you feel this way you have to call a friend right away. Many people are just feeling trapped. Work with others to find a way to make escape routes for yourselves when you are under these air raids…I know all to well how overwhelming they are. Feel a collective hug from all of us and know that we care about you! Hang in dear girl! You can NOT let this get the better of you. CAll your politicians, COER hotline and anybody that you can think of to let out your frustration. You have a ton of dedicated indivduals working to mitigate this situation….Again, HANG IN THERE!

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