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Sci Tech    H4'ed 7/12/18

Statement for the United Nations' July, 2018 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

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Statement for the United Nations'

July, 2018 High Level Political Forum

on Sustainable Development

To be presented by Katie Singer

The Internet's unintended consequences

Internet service has become necessary for family connectedness and educational and economic opportunities. The Internet is the largest thing that humanity has built, yet its impacts remain largely invisible and unregulated.

Consider each smartphone an Internet portal, a luxury item. Downloading one hour of video per week uses more electricity than two new refrigerators require in a year, yet not every household has a refrigerator. Because of increased video streaming and smart devices, e-technologies' power demands increase 20% per year. Wireless Internet access uses 10 times as much energy as wired (i.e. fiber optics-to-the-premises with no wireless interface in the last mile). The Internet could generate 3.5% of greenhouse gas emissions (more than aviation and shipping industries) by 2020 and 14% by 2040. By 2025, with power-hungry servers storing data from billions of Internet-connected devices and an international array of access networks, the communications industry could consume 20% of the world's electricity, straining grids and hampering climate change targets.

Globally, we generate more than 47 million tons of e-waste per year.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) now threatens half of all jobs, including in farming, medicine and teaching.

Peer-reviewed studies show that exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) damages DNA, increases risk of behavioral problems, cancer and other diseases and disrupts bees' navigation. In 2018, the World Health Organization classified gaming addiction as a mental health disorder.

Ineffective cybersecurity threatens every country's power grid, elections and democracy and every citizen's finances and privacy.

The Internet continues to expand

The Internet's unintended consequences hamper our ability to achieve the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Still, it expands without regulation.

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Katie Singer works on public policy with the Electromagnetic Radiation Policy Institute. A medical journalist, her books include The Garden of Fertility; Honoring Our Cycles, and An Electronic Silent Spring: Facing the Dangers and Creating Safe Limits. 

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