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Ethics, mass marketing and the use and implications of digital technologies
These are ‘stop and think’ pages, because the human trait to follow a techno-trail, eyes to the ground instead of up, is something we should have learned about, and have not. A reasonable question would be: is h.e.s.e. making biological risk of EM fields the only issue? What, besides, are the social and economic questions of a wireless world? Families? Youth culture? Dependency? Ability to plan? Addiction? Social control? Let’s think ahead a bit and talk.
1. Biological risk
A number of ethical questions surround the wireless revolution and the electricity industry in general. These are not unusual, when new technology that proves immensely useful takes a strong foothold in national and global economies. It is quite customary for the technology or product to become protected for its value to governments and corporate organisations, lobbied strongly for, and for opposition to be swept aside.
Mobile phone masts have hit so many headlines in recent years because the corporate and political interest is so strong that all local concern for their safety, appearance, effect on property values, counts for nothing. It is at once democratic to permit free rein to new technology and to profoundly undemocratic to effectively prohibit any popular restraint.
Parallels have frequently been drawn with past disasters: thalidomide, asbestos, tobacco, organophosphates etc. At times when science apparently did not know what it did not know, the industry in each case began to be aware. The products continued in use while money was made and the rest now is history. From a large amount of available science, sufficient degree of warning is already there on the long-term use of microwave devices. Similarly on power lines, there is absolutely clear correlation between them and childhood leukaemia. Correlation is not proof of (sole) causation, but the sensible thing to do is to break the correlation.
Two major concerns surround the use of digital microwave communications: sensitivity to the devices or the base stations, and long-latency neurological and immunological diseases (eg MND and cancers). Elsewhere we relate the routes whereby these concerns are substantiated or at the very least doubt cast. Under these circumstances we might expect ethical labeling of mobile devices: a SAR rating conveys virtually no real information to a user, and few will be familiar with the quality of scientific analysis of emerging results on their biological effect. Of greater concern is the installation of multiple overlapping networks, nationwide, bathing everyone without distinction in levels of NIEMR across the spectrum grossly in excess of anything natural.
For some, there is literally nowhere to hide.
What do we know? One of the uneasiest aspects of the ethics is treatment of people who are electro-hypersensitive (EHS). Doctors in the UK have (we have learned) been directly instructed by either the Home Office or the Department of Health not to accept any self-diagnosis of EHS attributed to phone masts. The medical profession has been told not to act as medical professionals, but, since government knows best, to seek other explanations (usually psychosomatic or attitudinal).
The next question in the line of what do we know, is what the available science says. We shall not digress here into the distortion of the science base, the funding of science, the direction it takes and the methods or subjects it can find funds to address. Nonetheless, it is clear that industry money influences published research outcomes. There is abundant evidence in the science that all is not well between humankind and man-made NIEMR. In these circumstances, the constant call ‘more research is needed’ is hollow. When there are signs that something is wrong on such a scale as this, balancing the ‘weight of paper’ showing a lack of positive results, against the weight of those that do, is quite wrong.
Moving further into what we know, we can look back over decades during which the effects of frequencies on well-being has been well-researched for non-medical purposes. As with anything good, bad uses will be found. Dream weapons are those that act at a distance, that are non-invasive, difficult to detect and need not be lethal. Electromagnetic weapons research has resulted in a body of knowledge on how specific frequencies affect human physiology and psychology. This knowledge is not freely available to us, and therefore cannot be used as reference to explain the complaints some people have about living with chronic NIEMR fields all around them. Are we to compare the ethics of superior ‘defence’ facilities against the ethics of protecting the general population in peacetime? The result is a constant battle even to investigate the concerns seriously, and all the while the product becomes an unassailable contribution to global economies.
So why the suppression and spin against science of the bio-effects? The early arguments of how low the fields are from power lines and mobile base stations, might be fine in isolation (equally, they might not) with each installation taken on its own merits. But epidemiological studies are accumulating, whilst the environmental sources are proliferating. Environmental levels are already something like 1013 above natural levels, and across the entire (and previously largely empty) EM spectrum. This has been introduced in the space of just two decades. It was calculated in July 2006 that the total EIRP (radiated power) from mobile bases in the centre of Luton was as high as 70kW. This is a stark contrast from the industry assertion that each antenna was only equivalent to a light bulb and thus was harmless. Such extremes are an environmental concern that carries a significant ethical burden.
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