Pearl Jam Is Doing Its Part to Keep Miami's Ears Safe

The members of Pearl Jam have never shied away from activism. They're the Bernie Sanders of rock 'n' roll. They've railed against President George W. Bush, rallied behind pro-choice policies, and raised awareness for Crohn's disease. And after 25 years, the bandmates are addressing a crisis they contribute to: hearing loss.

If we're not careful, preventable hearing loss will haunt our generation as we age. The World Health Organization says only 15 minutes of exposure to 100 decibels or more can cause irreversible hearing damage. Loud rock concerts easily meet this benchmark. So like caring older siblings who get you drunk and drive you home, Pearl Jam partnered with its fan club and the MusiCares Foundation to educate concertgoers about the dangers of listening to loud music. But the band is doing more than just raising awareness. Fans in the American Airlines Arena will be able to visit the MusiCares table and pick up Pearl Jam-branded earplugs.

This isn't the first time Pearl Jam has tried to offset its own collateral damage. In 2003, the band pledged a carbon-neutral policy to mitigate its environmental impact. While on tour, Pearl Jam calculates the metric tons of CO2 emitted from transporting the band, crew, equipment, and fans around the world — a figure that totals about 2,000 metric tons of CO2 per tour leg. The band then allocates a portion of its profits to environmental projects to attempt to offset its footprint. In 2012, Pearl Jam donated nearly $30,000 to plant enough conifer trees to retain 20,000 tons of CO2 (about as much as Pearl Jam tours output between 2011 and 2015) for 100 years.

On the band's website, bassist Jeff Ament calls on fans not to be "careless and lazy at loud rock shows" like he has been. Ament admits he enjoyed blasting his Walkman into his ears 30 years ago but now suffers from what sounds like tinnitus — a ringing in the ears — that plagues him when he tries to sleep. "Wear hearing protection, or you'll end up with a 1.5k ring in both ears... when you're trying to enjoy the serene quiet of an empty desert or forest," he says. And Ament isn't alone in this condition. Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and Ozzy Osbourne report serious hearing loss. Coldplay's Chris Martin says he has battled tinnitus for more than a decade. At just 24 years old, Grimes canceled her 2012 tour due to concerns about hearing trouble.

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Earplugs are like seat belts, helmets, and condoms — they can be uncomfortable and inconvenient in the moment, but the long-term consequences of not wearing them are exponentially worse. Eddie Vedder's voice may sound a bit muffled through earplugs, but that sure as hell beats listening to an incessant ringing for the rest of your life.

Pearl Jam 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-777-1000; aaarena.com. Tickets cost $67 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.

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