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November 22, 2018

Our Web of Inconvenient Truths

By Katie Singer

Every day, I learn about new changes that decrease consumers' choices around technology, increase energy consumption (by deploying new layers of infrastructure and marketing new devices), and increase EMR exposure.


Satellite Eyes New England Winter Storm Breaking Records
Satellite Eyes New England Winter Storm Breaking Records
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Society has changed

Every day, I learn about new changes that decrease consumers' choices around technology, increase energy consumption (by deploying new layers of infrastructure and marketing new devices), and increase EMR exposure:

* Last May, without warning, Verizon began eliminating landline phones in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

* On September 26, the FCC passed a Wireless Infrastructure Order that preempts local control over public right-of-ways. Telecom corporations are now allowed to install "small cell sites" (largely in support of 5G and the Internet of Things) on utility poles; municipalities are not allowed to deny permit applications or enact moratoria on these deployments for any reason. Please note: another FCC could rescind this Order. However, passage of the proposed STREAMLINE Act (SB 3157), currently up for a vote in Congress, would be very difficult to rescind. Let your senators know that you want them to vote NO on the STREAMLINE Act.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors strongly opposes SB3157. Twenty cities have filed a suit against the FCC's September 26, 2018 order, which, like SB3157, dictates how local governments manage their own right-of-ways.

For more information about SB 3157, visit

* Verizon launched 5G home broadband service on October 1 in parts of Sacramento, Los Angeles, Houston and Indianapolis.

* On November 15, the FCC voted to allow SpaceX to deploy 7,518 broadband satellites in addition to the 4,425 satellites that were approved in March 2018. The newly approved satellites will use frequencies between 37.5 and 42 GHz for space-to-earth transmissions and frequencies between 47.2 and 51.4 GHz for earth-to-space transmissions. FCC Chair Ajit Pai said these satellites will provide "high-speed broadband services in remote areas (and) global connectivity to the Internet of Things through 'routers in space' for data backhaul." The FCC has no word about these satellites' energy consumption or greenhouse-gas emissions (including just to launch them) nor their EMR emissions' impacts on public health or wildlife.

What is constructive use of our attention during such times?

When SteinerBooks publishes Our Web of Inconvenient Truths at the end of January, I will launch a campaign for every household to reduce consumption by 3% per month. Reducing energy consumption can also reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Two easy first steps are keeping Wi-Fi off when it's not in use, and drying clothes on a rack. I'll post more ideas in my newsletters and the book.

I also vote for aligning with existing public sentiment. The media have recently given attention to Silicon Valley parents who do not want their children near any kind of screen. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in October that we need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions drastically--or within twelve years, or temperatures will increase to a point that living may become intolerable. Reducing screen-time exposure = reducing energy consumption = reducing greenhouse gas emissions = reducing EMR exposure = helping the whole planet.

Montgomery County, Maryland, will sue the FCC over radiofrequency emissions standards for small cell antennas. The County aims to force the agency to update its emissions standards.

Get informed about what's truly sustainable, and what's just hype. Energy analyst Kris De Decker's newest piece about the circular economy is very worthwhile:

Report from the UN's July 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

In July 2018, I attended the UN's High-Level Political Development with 2500 others. The Forum focused on the UN's sustainable-development goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs include ending poverty, providing universal clean water and sanitation, responsible consumption and production, reducing CO2 emissions and biodiversity loss, increasing educational opportunities and affordable, clean energy.

Many presenters believe that technology will save us from our myriad troubles. They aim for universal access to online services. Few people have considered the harmful, unintended consequences of electronics or the Internet. A report, "Sustainable Energy for All," quotes the head of Energy & Extractives at the World Bank: "There needs to be increased financing, bolder policy commitments, and a willingness to embrace new technologies on a wider scale." A card from shows a lush picture of a river at the base of mountains and the statement: "Join the Ecosystem. Become a data contributor today."

A keynote speaker declared, "To achieve the SDGs, all we need is speed." Later, I asked this man how speed works with regulations to safeguard the public's life, health and property. He said it was a great question, and whizzed on.

Smart Cities are the rage. Dubai has proudly gone paperless. Many people said, "there's no reason to hold back from smart technology."

A few speakers admitted that in their country, "We will not be able to achieve the SDGs by 2030."

At several side panels, I presented my flyer about the Internet's footprint. After reading the flyer, most people said they'd never thought of the Internet's energy consumption, greenhouse-gas emissions or waste. (This flyer summarizes my forthcoming book, Our Web of Inconvenient Truths. The flyer is now available in English, German and Japanese at; if you can translate it into French, Spanish or another language, please let me know.)

When I explained, "As we shift from 4G to 5G, none of the TVs that operate at 4G will work. So they'll all go to the dump; and people will need to buy new TVs, which will require LOTS more electricity, water and raw materials." When I said, "4.5 billion people are now online; getting the remaining 3 billion online will require LOTS more raw materials, electricity and water. It'll generate LOTS more CO2, EMR and waste. If our goals include sustainability, reducing CO2 emissions and waste, how will we provide universal access?".... people recognized the massiveness of our dilemma.

When I shared An Electronic Silent Spring, my book about the health and environmental effects of EMR exposure, many people said they'd been looking for this kind of information. Ministers and laypeople from several countries would often then clutch my arm, because their child is addicted to video games. So then I offered "Calming Behavior in Children with Autism and ADHD," ( I'd tell them about Victoria Dunckley, MD's book, Reset Your Child's Brain.

Attendees from India Climate Justice explained to me that in order to slow the climate changes and extreme-weather events that we now witness so frequently, we must reduce our consumption by at least 70%.

How on Earth do we reduce our consumption by even 25%? How could anyone reduce Internet use by even 25%? I kept asking these questions, and then I thought of the 3%-per-month idea: Reduce energy consumption and media use by 3% per month. I'll launch this campaign when SteinerBooks publishes Our Web of Inconvenient Truths. Meanwhile, here are two ways to shrink your footprint:


Biodigesters take vegan kitchen scraps and turn them into liquid fertilizer and methane gas that 20 million Chinese families (and some American schools) use for cooking fuel and/or to power generators. For videos about Dr. T.H. Culhane and biodigesters at the University of Florida, visit:

More changes to our society

Losing the right to privacy

Because its "smart" meters collect data on ratepayers' electricity usage every 15 minutes and store it for up to three years, a group of Naperville, Illinois residents challenged their public utility. Naperville electricity customers are not allowed to opt out of the smart meter. The data collected reveals residents' sleeping routines, eating routines, specific electronics used, when people are home, when the house is empty, and info from electric vehicles that can identify travel routines and history. The residents claim that such data collection violates their Fourth Amendment rights, since the data can be de-aggregated to offer an invasive view into their personal lives.

On August 16, 2018, the 7th Circuit Federal Appeals Court ruled against the ratepayers (and their privacy rights), concluding that the government searches related to data collection by smart meters are reasonable (because they save energy) and thus permissible.

The residents further claim that the judge in this case does not understand that the meters have actually saved no energy.

Google and Facebook also collect users' personal data--including how much money you make, where you live, if you visit dating sites, if you're considering a new car or a divorce. They sell this data (one business theorist calls it "surveillance capitalism") to online marketers who produce targeted, mobile advertising. No federal agency regulates this data mining. No federal law protects citizens' privacy. Read Nicholas Confessore's piece, "The Unlikely Activists Who Took On Silicon Valley--and Won," NY Times,

* One meter victory A Colorado man provided his city with an image of his handicap parking placard, and requested that the utility not install a digital, RF-emitting water meter on his home because of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II Regulation. The city accepted his request, but said they'd charge him an opt-out fee. The man then noted Section 35.130, General prohibitions against discrimination:

(f) A public entity may not place a surcharge on a particular individual with a disability or any group of individuals with disabilities to cover the costs of measures, such as the provision of auxiliary aids or program accessibility, that are required to provide that individual or group with the nondiscriminatory treatment required by the Act or this part.

A mechanical meter will be maintained at this man's property, and he will not be charged an opt-out fee. For more info:

More news related to wireless tech and public health:

* The National Toxicology Program/National Institutes of Health's $30 million study demonstrates a clear link between exposure to wireless cell-phone signals and cancer, but the FDA is downplaying it. Read Dr. Ronald Melnick's opinion:

* A new study released by Yale School of Medicine and the Connecticut Health Department shows elevated risks of thyroid cancer among heavier, long-term cell-phone users. Thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the U.S.

* France has banned smartphone use in schools and the San Francisco Unified School District has passed a resolution calling for safer wireless-technology standards for all of its schools.

* An op-ed by NM Representative Ben Ray Lujan and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel in the Santa Fe New Mexican in September called for "no child left offline." On November 11, the Santa Fe Public Schools posted a classified ad for "rolling study hall tutors" to provide "tutoring, student assistance relating to an online math support program, and general homework help" on "six Wi-Fi enabled buses" serving middle-school students from 6-8:30 AM and 3-5 PM daily.

Yikes. Would any educators and legislators discuss safer tech use in schools?

Because more than 40% of primary and middle-school students in Shandong, China have nearsightedness, several government agencies have joined forces to forbid students from bringing cellphones and tablets to class. A government-issued plan recommends that children's use of electronic screens not exceed 15 minutes in a single session, and not more than one hour per day.

Posted by Katie Singer

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Submitters Bio:

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. 

Here websites include: and