As digitalization spirals out of control in an ever-expanding web of technology gone rogue, perhaps it’s time to consider whether the harms outweigh the hoped for and hyped about benefits.

Will millions of wireless antennas on earth, tens of thousands of satellites filling our skies, an ocean teeming with technology, the internet of things, internet of underwater things, internet of bodies, internet of Dental Things, internet of animals, Metaverse, smart dust, and billions of sensors, cameras and internet-connected things squeezing from our world every “byte” of data imaginable, provide overall benefit or harm to our infinitely fine-tuned web of life?

Below is a brief overview of why more and more people around the world are questioning the wisdom of our mass migration into cyber space enabled by a hyper-technologized world.

NB: Please see Microwaving Our Planet for a more in-depth discussion of satellites and Smart Ocean: Impacts of technology on marine life for more on oceans.

5G is a massive biological experiment inflicted on the public without informed consent, with no prior safety testing, and with credible scientific evidence indicating this technology will prove harmful to health and potentially fatal to some.

Once 4G/5G antennas are densely installed in communities around the globe and interacting with tens of thousands of satellites polluting our skies and a world full of internet connected sensors, cameras, cellphones, and a host of other data harvesting technologies, no one will be able to escape continuous, involuntary exposure to electromagnetic radiation. The unborn child, young children, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses, microwave sickness, or compromised immune systems will be particularly vulnerable.

The 2015 International EMF Scientist Appeal. signed by more than 240 scientists with published peer-reviewed research on the biologic and health effects of wireless radiation states:

Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.

The dramatic transformation of our world into one enmeshed with digital technology is particularly harmful to children. The International Declaration on the Human Rights of Children in the Digital Age, launched November 2023, states:

The growing number of wireless devices in and near homes, schools, daycare centers, and workplaces, together with supporting infrastructure, is increasing children’s continuous and cumulative radiation exposure from: cell phones, laptops, tablets, computers, routers, gaming consoles, wearables, internet of things, smart meters, robots, small cell and macro towers, satellite base stations. 

The Declaration calls on government officials to establish health-based NIR [Non Ionizing Radiation] exposure standards that are protective of health, especially for children and pregnant women.

Our children depend on us and on governments around the globe to protect health and safety and to place these above all else.

Resources on health:

International Commission on the Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields
Electromagnetic Radiation Safety
Clear Evidence of the Risks to Children from Non-Ionizing Radio Frequency Radiation
Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Association (ORSAA) 
Physicians for Safe Technology
Environmental Health Trust Science
Scientific Studies: Biological effects of RF radiation

Many animals and plants depend on Earth’s magnetic field for navigation, breeding, food, migration and indeed their very survival. Recently reported research shows current levels of artificial radiation interfere with these biological processes.

Biologists have discovered that wireless electromagnetic radiation disturbs internal magneto-receptors used for navigation, as well as disrupting other complex cellular and biologic processes in mammals, birds, fish, insects, trees, plants, seeds and bacteria with profound impacts on the natural environment.

Cindy Russell, Physicians For Safe Technology.

The unique sensitivity of different species to electromagnetic radiation is both understudied and under-regulated. Blake Levitt et al write in the abstract to part 2 of their 3 part opus on the effects of EMR on flora and fauna:

Wildlife loss is often unseen and undocumented until tipping points are reached. It is time to recognize ambient EMF as a novel form of pollution and develop rules at regulatory agencies that designate air as ‘habitat’ so EMF can be regulated like other pollutants. Long-term chronic low-level EMF exposure standards, which do not now exist, should be set accordingly for wildlife, and environmental laws should be strictly enforced.

The Effects of Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Fields on Flora and Fauna (Part 2)

Radiation has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder. The shorter millimeter wave frequencies used for 5G will be yet more perilous than 2G, 3G, and 4G as insects are millimeter-sized creatures and will selectively absorb and amplify these frequencies.

We interfere with nature at our own peril.

For more info, please visit Environmental Trust’s newest website Wildlife, Wireless and the Environment.

Resources on Wildlife:

Biological effects of electromagnetic fields on insects: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, Part 1. Rising ambient EMF levels in the environmentAnthropogenic radiofrequency
Electromagnetic fields as an emerging threat to wildlife orientation. Part 2 | Part 3.
Environment and Wildlife Effects
Electromagnetic radiation as an emerging driver factor for the decline of insects
Published Research on the Adverse Effect of Wireless Technology and Electromagnetic Radiation on Bees
Electromagnetic Pollution Risks to Bees
Letter from Dr. Devra Davis re Telecommunications Infrastructure Plan at Grand Teton National Park
Science: Plant and Animal Electromagnetic Sensitivity
Electromagnetic Fields, Tree & Plant Growth
Review – Biological effects of electromagnetic fields on insects Biological effects of electromagnetic fields on insects
A review of the ecological effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF)
Review: Weak radiofrequency radiation exposure from mobile phone radiation on plants
5G-The Digital Killing Fields-EMF/EMR

Our data is valuable and can be used for research, targeted marketing, surveillance, and control. Data is one of the main driving forces behind our increasingly digitally interconnected world.

Enabled by millions of new 4G/5G antennas, cellphones, the internet of things (IoT), smart cities, satellite communications and imaging, surveillance cameras, sensors, facial recognition technology (FRT) etc., our digitally connected world generates a vast amount of data. Aggregated and sifted through, the data provides granular details about where we have been, where we are headed, what we are doing, and what our interests and means are. As users of technology, we have allowed ourselves to become commoditized by Big Tech, whose business model relies largely on an income stream generated from our data.

As Surveillance Capitalism expert Shoshana Zuboff explains,

They [businesses] want to know how we will behave in order to know how to best intervene in our behaviour.

Shoshana Zuboff: ‘Surveillance capitalism is an assault on human autonomy’

Our data (including our faces which are increasingly used as ubiquitous identifiers) are collected, mined, analyzed, and stored indefinitely in data centers. The data is sold and used for targeted marketing (aka surveillance capitalism), surveillance, law enforcement, research, smart city systems, and more as the IoT evolves. In fact, a whole interconnected system is being built as data from one application provides fodder for another.

Wireless systems are far more easily hacked than wired connections. With so many IoT things and devices as well as cameras and sensors peppered throughout our homes and cities, there are trillions more entry points for our data to be used by hackers for their purposes.

Resources for Privacy
Shoshana Zuboff on Surveillance Capitalism (VPRO documentary)
The Terrifying Potential of the 5G Network
How much info is Google getting from your phone? [VIDEO]
Smile, Your City Is Watching You
Security and Privacy in the World-Sized Web
A New Satellite Can Peer Inside Some Buildings, Day or Night But don’t worry — the company says it can’t see inside your home
O.K., Google: How Much Money Have I Made for You Today…
Report: Without safeguards, Internet and IoT may create surveillance states in near future

Armed with an astronomical amount of data generated from the 5G-enabled Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Cities, and Smart Regions, industry claims we will be better equipped to save energy. But what they fail to include in their analyses is the mega energy footprint of all these internet-connected things humming and buzzing 24/7. It is not at all clear that the IoT will ever succeed in offsetting its own fast growing and unbounded energy footprint.

Not considered are:

  1. The energy consumed by all the constantly-communicating “things” machines, applications, sensors, surveillance cameras, etc.
  2. The astronomical amount of energy needed to manufacture all these IoT things, devices and accompanying infrastructure (embodied energy).
  3. The CO2 released into the atmosphere from the energy used to power the proliferating wireless sources. Most of this energy is generated from fossil fuels.
  4. The energy required to power enormously energy consumptive data centers.
  5. The excess energy needed to move data wirelessly through the air rather than more efficiently and effectively through fiber or cable.
  6. The energy required for global travel to assemble devices (c.500,000 miles for one iPhone)

An all-things-connected world is not the answer to saving energy.

Resources on Energy
Letters about nature and technology
An avalanche of green reports won’t cool the climate
Who can trust industry claims about 5G’s sustainability?

How green is 5G?With data centres set to have a bigger carbon footprint than the whole aviation industry, smart technology’s benefits need urgent re-examination.
Radiation Analysis in a Gradual 5G Network Deployment Strategy
French study finds 5G increases risk to climate. Deployment of the new mobile internet technology is likely to cause a ‘significant increase’ in greenhouse gas emissions, an independent climate council has foundWhat Will 5G Mean for the Environment?
Assessing ICT global emissions footprint: Trends to 2040 & recommendations
Energy Consumption in Wired and Wireless Access Networks
5G base stations use a lot more energy than 4G base stations: MTN
Turn Off That Camera During Virtual Meetings Environmental Study Says
Proposing Cradle-to-Grave Evaluations for ALL New Vehicles
Your iPhone’s 500,000-Mile Journey to Your Pocket

Research shows technology has profound psycho-social effects on us all, but particularly on children. Suicide, loneliness, and depression are reaching epidemic proportions. According to Professor Jean Twenge from San Diego State University, “Young people are on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades.”

Tech-addiction is on the rise. Gaming Disorder is now included in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases. The average teenager is online about nine hours per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends doctors prescribe “creative unplugged play-time” for children. The need for such a recommendation is itself a sad commentary on the current state of affairs.

We have allowed industry to define who we are, what we do, and where we are headed as a species. We must reclaim our future from Big Tech.

Our kids need more time away from technology and screens to connect with one another and the natural world. Family, friends, and community must reassume their rightful place at the helm of mentoring and guiding future generations.

As our world becomes ever more digitalized, the problem of dependence on and addiction to technology will only worsen. The public needs to become informed of the harms, Big Tech must be better regulated, and we must strive for a culture of moderation and balance in our use of technology.

Resources on Brains and Humanity
Dr. Nicolas Kardaras Website on Tech Addiction
Tech Overuse & Addiction – “Books and Other Resources”
Eliminating the Human
I asked my students to turn in their cell phones and write about living without them. Here’s what they had to say.

With ever new generations of smart phones; the Internet of Things (IoT) which includes nearly all household items such as washing machines, mattresses, tea kettles, plant-waterers; routers, cell towers and satellites; machines and robots for precision agriculture; AI and weapons of war; smart meters, surveillance cameras, sensors, and data centers; virtual and augmented reality; an ocean full of sonar, laser, RF, and connected vehicles, all joining the growing ranks of electronic waste (e-waste), will recycling be enough, and will Earth be able to “digest” this fast-growing volume of discarded stuff?

Anurit Kanti explains:

With lack of proper barriers to prevent this leakage [of toxic substances], and the high concentration of these toxic substances, the impact of the e-waste on the ecosystem is extremely long-lasting, irreversible and dangerous to the sustainability of everyone around that eco-system.

Anurit Kanti, Why You Should Take Disposal Of E-Waste Seriously

Discarded digital products (post-consumer “stuff”) contributes to about 2-3% of all e-waste. A far more significant contributor is the release of toxins from the mining and manufacturing of electronics. In an article in The Conversation, Josh Lepawsky explains, “No amount of post-consumer recycling can recoup the waste generated before consumers purchase their devices.” He goes on to explain:

…about 3.1 million metric tons of e-waste was collected from households in the European Union. Yet five times more waste, 16.2 million metric tons, arose from electronics manufacturing within the EU. This means that even if all household e-waste collected in the EU is recycled, waste from manufacturing electronics in the same region far outstrips the scale of household e-waste.

Almost everything you know about e-waste is wrong,

A Swedish study by Avfall Sverige shared that the “invisible waste” from a smartphone and laptop is about 86 and 1,200 kilograms respectively, compared to 1 kilogram of beef and a pair of cotton trousers, which generate 4 and 25 kilograms respectively.

Although conscientious recycling of used products helps to a small degree, it may, in fact, contribute to the problem of e-waste by moving things through people’s homes faster incentivizing the purchase of new products.

Ways to help:

  1. Repair whenever possible, and lobby for “right to repair” laws in your state.
  2. Only purchase essential digital products and take good care of them to extend their “lifespan”.
  3. Become informed and lobby policy makers to help regulate the mining and manufacturing of digital products.
  4. Best to not use a cellphone at all. But if you absolutely must, and your current phone cannot be repaired, consider buying a Fair Phone.

Resources on E-waste
Letters about Technology and NatureThe invisible waste behind our laptops and smartphones
Almost everything you know about e-waste is wrong
Our Tech Addiction Is Creating a ‘Toxic Soup’
What Will 5G Mean for the Environment?
Defining “carbon neutrality” before enacting new policies
The dirty side of the digital age: know where your old PC will end up

“They’re digging in trenches and laboring in lakes, hunting for treasure in a playground from Hell. Hard enough for an adult man. Unthinkable for a child.”
CBS News finds children mining cobalt for batteries in the Congo.

The production of our electronic technologies has fueled war, murder, rape, and child labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to World Without Genocide at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, approximately 6 million people have died as a result of conflicts fueled by the pursuit of rare earth minerals needed for our electronics.

Children and women also suffer. Unicef estimated that in 2016, there were about 40,000 children working in mines across the Congo. Hundreds of thousands of women have been raped and sold back to villages for ransom. Casualties of a war financed primarily by the electronics industry.

An all-things-connected world, along with the current push for electric vehicles (each of which requires 20 pounds of cobalt) will likely bring more hardship, child labor, and death while ravaging the Earth.

Resources on Conflict Minerals
Blood Cobalt from the Congo – Siddharth Kara
As incremental efforts to end child labour by 2025 persist, Congo’s child miners – exhausted and exploited – ask the world to “pray for us”
Open letter to anyone who uses a smartphone, drives an electric car, or flies on a plane
CBS News finds children mining cobalt for batteries in the Congo
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tesla and Dell sued over child-mined cobalt from Africa
Special report : Inside the Congo cobalt mines that exploit children

The World Global Research Report ranked cyber security as the third greatest global risk in 2018 topped only by natural disasters and extreme weather events. With the arrival of the IoT and billions of new internet-connected machines, appliances, sensors, things, robots, devices, etc. – all enabled and supported by 5G – cyber-attacks have become virtually inevitable. Furthermore, a wireless system is far more vulnerable to cyber-attacks than a wired system.

Cyber security expert, Bruce Schneier states:
“With the advent of the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems in general, we’ve given the Internet hands and feet: the ability to directly affect the physical world. What used to be attacks against data and information have become attacks against flesh, steel, and concrete.”

“Give the Internet hands and feet, and it will have the ability to punch and kick.

Resources on Cyber Attacks
Cyberattacks ranked THIRD greatest global risk in 2018
Report: Without safeguards, Internet and IoT may create surveillance states in near future
Hacking Germany computers, cyberattacks and the future | DW Documentary [VIDEO]
Cybercrime to cost $6 trillion annually by 2021 reveals Cybersecurity Ventures 2017 Report [VIDEO]

Cell towers fail to hold up under disaster conditions. They failed in the fires in California as well as in the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Texas.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Wireless networks along the Texas coast suffered outages as a result of Hurricane Harvey, federal regulators said, leaving customers in some counties with limited or no cellphone service.”

Wired technologies such as copper, coaxial and fiber are vastly more resilient than cell towers.

Resources on Resilience
Presently, Over 86% of Cell Sites in Puerto Rico Are Still Not Operating in Aftermath of Hurricane Maria
Cell Networks Suffer Outages in Harvey’s Wake Customers have limited or no cellphone service; three Texas counties are hardest hit

Telecoms admit they do not know if their wireless technology is safe. They warn shareholders that revenues could be negatively impacted by health claims. Neither will insurance companies insure telecoms against liability for exposure-related health claims.

Who will be held liable in the event of harm from a wireless “small cell” facility? Who will assume financial responsibility for future injury, fire, loss of health, property devaluation etc. due to close proximity of cell antennas to homes, workplaces, and schools?

Resources on Liability
Environmental Health Trust on Liability
Cell Phones Wireless Companies Warn Shareholders About Future Financial Risks From Electromagnetic Radiation

There Is a Safer Alternative

There are safer and more reliable ways to connect to the internet that have been around for over 25 years: fiber/wired technology. If we used wired connections for the vast majority of internet and telecommunications needs, reserving wireless as an ancillary service where truly necessary and where wired is not possible, we could enjoy the benefits of technology while minimizing the harms.

Wired technologies such as fiber or coaxial cable are faster, more reliable, resilient, energy-efficient, less prone to cyber attacks, surveillance capitalism and other privacy violations. Above all, wired technologies are significantly less hazardous to our health and would better ensure the survival of other life forms with whom we share this planet.

Resources on Wired Technology
Re-Inventing Wires:The Future of Landlines and Networks 
Connected Communities
The drive to widen the digital divide
Wired vs Wireless Network