When Alexander Graham Bell shouted to his associate about his new invention in 1876 “Mr. Watson, come here – I want to see you,” he had no idea what technological marvel (or unmitigated disaster) he had unleashed upon the world. Today you can buy a telephone that’s built on a stylus pen, one that doubles as a watch, one that’s shaped as a Chinese dragon, acts like a thermal camera, or that’s gold plated and retails for $120,000.
Long distance communication is not a new thing. It goes back tens of thousands of years. One of the earliest methods was using drums, called drum telegraphy, allowing tribal members to communicate with the next town. Runners was also employed in parts of the world but it had its pitfalls, hence the origin of “kill the messenger” in our lexicon.
Smoke signals were used for thousands of years. Native American tribes each had their own “smoke” language to send messages. Chinese soldiers at the Great Wall used smoke signals to alert soldiers along other sections of the wall of potential enemy attacks.
Carrier pigeons were also a longstanding tradition, starting with the Egyptians dating back to 3000 BC. The birds could travel for thousands of miles at speeds of 60-100 miles per hour with excellent homing abilities. One of the more unusual modes of communication transmission was the use of a whistled language. According to Wikipedia, whistled language allowed “fluent whistlers to transmit and comprehend a potentially unlimited number of messages over long distances.” In some tribes in Africa, people incorporated the use of whistles and clicks to send their message across many miles.
With the advent of modern technology, the telegraph became the newest form of speedy communication. And of course the radio opened the door for public news announcements and music transmitted globally. But it wasn’t until Bell’s invention that voice transmission over distances, person to person was possible. Western Union, the telephone’s main rival at the time quipped, “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.”
Today with the internet, WiFi, and Bluetooth we can not only communicate with each other instantaneously, but also with our devices, our appliances and even our pets. But with the wonders of instant communication also come consequences. Wireless communication does not come without a cost and the most important and untold aspect of this cost could be human health.
Scientists have been studying radio frequency radiation (RFR) for many years and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets the standards on RFR limits. However, the limits are based on 30-year-oldresearch. Since then, according to Scientific American, there have been more than 500 studies that have found harmful health effects from RFR exposure that the communications industry has fought long and hard to suppress.
As a result of this large body of research, 240 scientists who published their work in peer-reviewed scientific journals on the health effects of RFRs signed a scientific appeal calling into question that safety of 5G technology that is rapidly rolling out throughout the United States and the world.
The advantages of 5G is that it uses higher frequency waves than earlier mobile networks, allowing more devices to have access to the internet at the same time and at faster speeds. However, these waves travel shorter distances, so 5G networks require more transmitter masts than previous technologies. Ultimately for 5G to work effectively, cell transmitters would need to be erected on nearly every block in every town, nationwide, raising RFR exposure to record levels.
In a recent essay in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Dr. John William Frank, an acclaimed epidemiologist, posits that there is significant uncertainty regarding the rapidly emerging evidence of potentially harmful biological effects from radio frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposures, at the levels 5G roll-out will entail. Frank explains “Recent reviews of lab data on RF-EMFs indicate that exposures can produce wide-ranging effects, including reproductive, fetal, oncological, neuropsychiatric, skin, eye and immunological.”
Additionally, a recent alarm was sounded by the airline industry because 5G signals potentially interfere with airplane altimeters, thereby giving pilots false readings on how far they are from the ground, with potential catastrophic results. Dr. Frank concludes “there’s a sound basis for invoking ‘the precautionary principle’ because of significant doubts about the safety of this new and potentially widespread human exposure, which should be reason enough “to call a moratorium on that exposure, pending adequate scientific investigation of its suspected adverse health effects,” I find his rationale both compelling and frightening. Perhaps our next call should be to our legislators asking them to “hold the phone” on 5G until we’re sure it’s safe.
David Weintraub is a cultural preservationist, filmmaker and local environmental troublemaker who runs the Center for Cultural Preservation. Contact him at SaveCulture.org or (828) 692-8062.
This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: You Make the Call: 5G and Thee