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Counterbalancing use of electronics by connecting with the Earth

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Letter #15 Counterbalancing use of electronics
by connecting with the Earth

a letter to Greta Thunberg
by Katie Singer

Dear Greta,

After I'd begun learning about telecommunications' public health and environmental impacts; after more children than I can count became screen addicts; after studies showed that using a mobile phone increases risk of cancer (but didn't get media attention) and far too many people got brain or tongue or thyroid cancer; after countless legislative sessions prohibited policymakers from considering the health or environmental effects of exposure to electromagnetic radiation when they voted to permit or deny new transmitting cellular antennas; after learning that 5G mobile networks' deployment will increase telecommunications' energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions exponentially and increase the public's and wildlife's exposure to electromagnetic radiation, I admitted to myself that I am powerless over telecom corporations and that my life has become unmanageable.

I called a geophysics professor and growled, "I need a god bigger than AT&T."

He told me to try Verizon. [1]

Electricity, a computer and Internet access give us extraordinary opportunities. But using any of these also means that we participate in ecological damage and depend on corporations over which we have no control. I do not expect electricity or electronic devices or telecom corporations to go away or get safer or less toxic or less hazardous or more respectful of democracy.

Still, as much as possible, I'd like to reduce my ecological footprint and my dependence on electricity and corporations.

To counterbalance our digital impacts, could we strengthen our relationship to the Earth? Could we re-learn traditional, non-electric skills and develop our humanness as we have children, grow and prepare food, educate ourselves, heal wounds and illnesses, use transportation and attend to end-of-life issues?

Here are a few steps toward counterbalancing our technology use:

Learn nature's laws. Natural family planning explains that all life evolves from heating and cooling and drying and moistening. By charting her waking temperature and cervical fluid, a woman can know when she's fertile and infertile. Pharmaceutical family planning has consequences for women's health and our ecosystem. In my childbearing years, charting moved me from thinking that I could and should control nature, including my body, without consequences. It helped me revere nature, including my health. [2]

Still thinking about reproduction, I've recently learned that if every woman has only one child, then, in four generations, we'd reduce the human population to two billion and reduce humanity's strain on the Earth's carrying capacity. How/could we encourage this without coercion of any kind?

Make home and neighbors. Grow cooking herbs like parsley or thyme at your window. Harvest dandelion greens and other wild edibles from around your neighborhood.

Walk to your grocery store. (I consider living within walking distance of a grocery store a great privilege. I've become addicted to it!)

Cook your own food. Anything processed--even vegan burgers [3]--engages international supply chains and therefore has a significant footprint.

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Katie Singer writes about nature and technology in Letters to Greta. She spoke about the Internet's footprint in 2018, at the United Nations' Forum on Science, Technology & Innovation, and, in 2019, on a panel with the climatologist Dr. (more...)

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