One of the more Star Wars-y projects gathering pace in 2016 must be the Google Loon project – an attempt to encircle the southern hemisphere with a ring of high flying balloons. Using 4G, the balloons will beam internet access down to those living in remote regions below who currently struggle to get connected.
Any increase in the amount of radiation in the atmosphere, be it wifi or phone connectivity, rings alarm bells amongst those who are electrosensitive. It also concerns those who worry about the amount of man-made electromagnetic radiation with which the world’s population is now being bombarded. However, assuming that Google ever manages to get all its balloons all pointing in the same direction, the radiation that they produce will be very low – around the same as a satellite dish; way below the kind of radiation that the average person is subject to everyday from their wireless devices. However, if you are electrosensitive you will know, to your cost, that even such low emissions can cause acute symptoms and make your life a misery.
GUARDS (Global Union Against Radiation Deployment from Space) are already objecting to the project, although they are even more worried about the environmental damage (kerosene burning rockets affecting the ozone layer and hastening climate change) that will be done by the planned launch of hundreds of new satellites over the next few years.
The problem that bedevils this argument is the fact that electromagnetically enabled connectivity has ENORMOUSLY improved the lives of many millions living in less priviledged parts of the world, while revolutionising the way we all live our lives. Just imagine, if you even can, a life without the internet, without instant access to information and all the myriad benefits that that brings. So banning it is not only, in practical terms, impossible but also seriously undesirable.
Yet….. Even though as yet only a very small fraction of the world’s population are suffering seriously from the man-made electromagnetic radiation* needed to create this connectivity, there are very serious and credible concerns that they are only the tip of the iceberg – the canaries in the mines. In other words that, like smoking and asbestos, almost everyone is being affected by this radiation but that, as yet, the damage being done to their health is not being recognised.
If you do not believe that these concerns are based in credible science, take look at the Bioinitiative Report. Twenty nine independent scientists and health experts from around the world have pulled together thousands of studies reporting on the ‘adverse health effects of electromagnetic fields (powerlines, electrical wiring, appliances and hand-held devices) and wireless technologies (cell and cordless phones, cell towers, WI-FI, wireless laptops, wireless routers, baby monitors, surveillance systems, wireless utility/‘smart’ meters’).
For those who do accept that serious, population wide damage is being done, there are three problems. One is that wireless connectivity has become so essential a part of our daily lives that it is extremely hard to persuade anyone to do without it. The second is that there are enormous vested interests in the phone and wifi business. While (see below) the industry is all too aware of the dangers, they are also very mindful of their investments.
And finally, like diabetes, electromagnetic pollution (electrosmog) is a silent killer. Unless you are one of the very few super sensitives you suffer very little in the way of ‘symptoms’ – until the damage has already been done. At that point you are pushed over the edge into sensitivity, your DNA is damaged, your fertility is reduced, your children are harmed – and you have cancer….
No, of course, not everyone will suffer all those ills – not all smokers died of lung cancer, nor did all builders die of malignant mesothelioma – but enough did for us not to want to repeat those mistakes.
So how can we get in there now and make people understand that being joined at the hip to their ‘devices’ 24/7 has risks – but….. that those risks can be seriously reduced by both personal and regulatory interventions. And whatever about persuading individuals, how can one ever hope to rein in the mighty global telecoms industry not to mention all the other industries that now see wifi as the way forward? For years the prospects have seemed grim but a conference held this autumn painted a rather more encouraging picture.
First up, Professor Victor Newman of Beneficial Environments with a PhD in Innovation. He plotted the trajectory of electro connectivity:
No problems – sensitivity (aware of the effects) – sensible (making sensible choices for oneself) – electro responsible (making sensible choices for others)
Or, in purely personal terms, how does one adapt?
From shock – to denial – to frustration – to depression – to acceptance – to experimentation – to decision making – to integration – to moving forward.
But the last stages (electro responsibility, integration and moving forward) only happen after a tipping point has been reached and reality has changed – thus allowing everyone to move forward. Both Professor Newman and Mike Mitcham of Stop Smart Meters who spoke later, saw employer liability and litigation as the most powerful driver towards that tipping point.
Everyone, and especially the telecoms industry, knows that that mobile phones are not safe and, despite all the truck loads of research they have sponsored, no one has ever claimed that they were safe – merely that there was no convincing evidence that they were not safe. But the insurance industry is not to be fooled and even as far back as 2010 over 60% of underwriters were refusing to cover cell phone carriers against ‘harm’.
Both Victor Newman and Mike Mitcham believe that the case of Innocente Marcolini is only the first of what could turn into a tsunami of litigation. In 2012 Mr Marconi won his suit against his employer who he had accused of ‘causing’ his brain tumour by forcing him to use his mobile phone. And it is not only employers who could be at risk of liability. School heads and governors are responsible for a child’s health when it is at school. Yet by forcing children to use wifi in school they are exposing those children to a class B carcinogen which is contrary to the provisions of the Childrens’ Act 1989 – so they too would be liable.
But as awareness grows, market forces will also be at work – a thesis interestingly paralleled by the growth of the ‘freefrom food’ industry.
Manufacturers will realise that, just as there was a significant market amongst those who did not want gluten or dairy products in their food, so there is a significant market amongst those who do want to use mobile devices but want to use safer ones and to protect themselves against the harm that those devices could do to them. As more ‘safety’ products (products with lower or less harmful emissions, ways to shield one’s person, one’s house, one’s workplace) come onto the market, so awareness will grow further, thus growing the market further.
Fashion designers will incorporate safety into the latest designs, celebrities will become concerned (I am amazed that Gwyneth Paltrow has not yet become electromagnetically aware!) – so all of sudden shielding and electro sensitivity will be all over Instagram and Twitter.
The more aware parts of the communications industry (as happened with the food industry – see Warburtons venture into gluten-free breads for example) will see the way the wind is blowing and will seek out safer and more acceptable ways of delivering connectivity.
And finally, as happened with tobacco and asbestos, a Volkswagen moment will come when the whole world realises just what a dangerous game the communications industry has been playing with our health and will move to safer and more acceptable way of delivering what we need.
OK – a rosy picture, but not, I think, a totally unrealistic one. But, there is one problem – the time scale. It took two generations to go through this process with tobacco and with asbestos. How much damage will have been done to our children and our grandchildren by excess man-made electromagnetic radiation in two generations? Indeed, if the decrease in fertility, which is most certainly exacerbated by EM exposure, continues at its current rate, will we even have any grandchildren?….
So maybe there is a way forward, but will we get there in time?
*As we learnt at school, the earth is encircled by electromagnetic fields which have never done any harm to our health. But these waves of electromagnetic radiation are a smooth curve. To get electromagnetic waves to carry information (which what we need them to do for communication purposes) we attach tiny ‘packets’ of information to them, but this means that the waves are no longer smooth but ‘stutter’ or are ‘modulated’ – and it is this modulation that is harmful to human health. If you want this explained more scientific terms, see this article on the FoodsMatter site.