Rob: Hi and welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up radio show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Phili and South Jersey. Sponsored by opednews.com. And go to opednews.com/podcasts and you'll find hundreds of other interviews of previous conversations that we've had on the show here.
My guest tonight is Katie Singer. 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. Her websites include: Katiesinger.com and electronicsilentspring.com. Welcome to the show!
KS: Thank you so much for having me.
Rob: Well I really enjoyed the presentation that you gave a couple weeks ago at the Techno-Utopianism and the Fate of the Earth conference (ifg.org). So I invited you on the show to talk more about what you presented on, and on your book, An Electronic Silent Spring. It's an eye opener and full of great resources. So, I'm going to start off -- you started off your talk -- no you didn't start your talk, but somewhere you talk about how the early stages of the Earth's electronic activity contributed to formation of life. Can you talk a little bit about that and put that into context of the book?
KS: Sure. If we go back billions of years when some people would describe the earth, then, as primordial soup; and we had build up of charge; and with build-up of charge, lightning began to strike. And a bombardment of lightning storms led to the building blocks of life, such as nucleic and amino acids. Early plants made oxygen, which paved the way for animals. And what we know is that all living creatures function and are created by electrochemical signals. Our brains and hearts function by electrochemical signals. Even at rest, all cells have measurable voltage. So in other words, without electromagnetic energy, none of us would be here. We depend on electromagnetic energy for all of our functions, including digesting food and balance, and what makes my voice work with my brain. All of that stuff. And if I keep going with the frame that I've come to, I think 1844 is when the electromagnet got invented. And with that, rapidly came things like motors and radio frequency waves that allowed radio and TV. Electricity got delivered over power lines over long distances throughout the whole country to urban and rural areas. And all of that has happened really in the last 150 years. So the electromagnetic energy that we're now surrounded by at frequencies and amplitudes that do not exist in nature, this is new for living creatures, to be living in this, we could call it electric smog. We're living in a surround of electromagnetic energy that does not exist in nature. And how are we affected biologically? Like how do our cells respond to that man-made electromagnetic energy? How do our organs respond? How do wildlife respond? These are some questions that the scientists I report on in my book, they're looking at those kinds of questions. If I keep going. --
Rob: Keep going.
KS: Okay, so most of us got born assuming that we'd have electricity, we'd have refrigerators, we'd have television, radio, all of that stuff. And some people now got born assuming they'd have computers, cellphones, and WIFI. Along with those assumptions that we would have electronic devices, I think we've assumed that it's all safe. Again, some scientists are looking at that question: is that true? Is this stuff safe? This is one example that I find really helpful, although I don't understand exactly why some physicists are not thrilled with my analogy and I'll say that a lot of what I say is simple. When we simplify things like electricity, we can make errors. So, let me qualify that my descriptions are simple, and when they're more comprehensively described we get a better chance of accuracy. But here's one example that helps me understand why we've made this assumption that electronics are safe, and we don't need to question their biological effects.
If we -- we know that lightning and the electric chair, which both operate at high levels of electrical power, both lightning and the electric chair can harm and kill; we know this. We see immediate effects from them. What happens when we're exposed to lower levels of electrical energy? Some of the devices that emit lower levels of electrical energy would include radio, TV, cellphones, WIFI -- all that stuff. Usually we don't see immediate (biological) effects (from them), so we're basically enamored with all the cool things that the electronic device can do for us. We don't notice what's going on biologically. It may take a long time to notice, but what does happen say, if a child is exposed in utero, if she's exposed from birth through starting school? What happens to people who are exposed to multiple sources of electromagnetic energy like from WIFI, and cellphones, and smart utility meters, and you live near a cell tower? I could go on. There are lots of questions that we need to look at, and scientists actually have looked at them in many cases. We need to
Rob: Let me just interrupt with one thing. You just mentioned one item that I'm not totally familiar with, and I don't think listeners would be familiar. What do you mean by a smart electronic utility meter? The other things I know. Now that one I think you need to say what it is.
KS: Okay, many people have heard of smartphones and the "smart" grid as in the "smart" electric grid. Smart is a new catchy word. It's been around for a few years. If we're talking about "smart" meters, then -- and I put the word "smart" in quotes. A "smart" utility meter is a wireless digital transmitting utility meter. It can be used for gas, water, or electric. It can communicate data about your energy use to your utility company wirelessly. Some meters can transmit radiation for a half a mile or more. Depending on how they're programmed, they can send data every 15 seconds or once a month. They've been deployed around the country. There are many people like in California I think they've got more than 10,000 complaints to Pacific Gas and Electric, which is their largest utility company, about the health effects. We know, for example that people with cardiac pacemakers, their pacemakers can shut off after installation. What are the immediate effects? I have heard reports of a woman, whom I believe is an engineer, and she got into bed one night. There was a ligament in her leg that was kind of playing jump rope, every 20 seconds. Then her husband got into bed and he had the same experience. She had meters and they had just had a "smart" meter installed. And in fact, the "smart" meter was going off every 20 seconds sending data about their energy use to their utility company. So that would be an immediate effect. Usually we don't see immediate effects., Sometimes we do. People don't really know what's going on. They might not sleep well, they might have headaches. These are things now that people commonly expect to live with. So they might not notice a relationship. If you want more information about smart meters, my website, www.electronicsilentspring.com has intro packets. And one of them is focused on "smart" meters, and it will take you to other places that will give you a lot more information. I can say clearly that the goal of the "smart" grid is to reduce our energy use. For example, if people are using energy, using electricity in a smooth way, so in a consistent way, it's more efficient; we don't waste as much electricity. That's beneficial, because we all want to be saving energy here, saving electricity. But the smart grid does not have to be installed with wireless communications. Wireless communications actually use more energy. And they transmit electromagnetic radiation, which does affect us biologically.
Rob: So, these electronic utility meters, these "smart" meters are for the smart grid, you're saying?
KS: Yes, and they --
Rob: Are they also just for the convenience of the utilities so that they don't have to have meter readers come out like they used to?
KS: Yes. That would all be true. I mean, there are lots of reasons. I have, so in my state, we have an opt-out, for example, with our gas meter. An opt-out means, I do a self-read of my meter; I don't pay anything for this opt-out. It takes me about 8 seconds once a month. I go out, I read the meter, I write down what the meter says, and I send a postcard in to my utility company. Then I don't have to have the transmitting meter on my house.
KS: In some states, in order to have that opt- out, you have to pay $250 up front. And I think you may have to pay additional fees. It's very controversial, because nobody should have to pay to self- read their meter and also it gets complicated, because I'm surrounded by houses that are all about 10 feet away. The house next to me is a duplex, and there are two meters that beam directly into our bedroom. But, my neighbors don't want the opt-out. So I get the radiation blasted into our bedroom.