The Invisible Rainbow
A History of Electricity and Life
by Arthur Firstenberg
Bees, Birds, Trees, and Humans
ALFONSO BALMORI MARTÍNEZ is a wildlife biologist who lives in Valladolid, Spain. In his official capacity he works in wildlife management for the Environment Department of his region, Castilla y León. But for over a decade he has also labored for a cause that he considers at least as important. “It was in about the year 2000,” he says, “that I began to be aware of serious health problems that were being provoked by cell phone antennas in certain individuals who were my neighbors and acquaintances, including a serious situation in the school which my two oldest sons were attending at that time.” The problem at the school, the Colegio García Quintana, was not easy to ignore, since he was confronted with it every time he dropped off his sons there. For looming over the playground, like a giant pincushion, a neighboring building’s rooftop harbored about sixty transmission antennas of all shapes and sizes.
The antenna farm sprouted its communication crop rapidly, and during the first year of its growth, between December 2000 and January 2002, five cases of leukemia and lymphoma were diagnosed in succession at the school—four in children aged four to nine, and the fifth in a seventeen-year-old young woman who did cleaning. Considering that only four cases of leukemia and lymphoma in children under twelve had been diagnosed during the previous year in all of the province of Valladolid, the community was frightened. The school was closed by the Health Department on January 10, 2002, and was reopened several weeks later after inspectors could find no dangerous conditions within. The antennas, however, were removed by court order of December 2001, and a new organization, AVAATE—Asociación Vallisoletana de Afectadas por Antenas de TElefonía (Valladolid Association of People Affected by Telecommunication Antennas)—arose from their ashes, nurtured in part by a newly motivated Balmori, who was disturbed by what he was learning. People exposed to antennas were not just getting cancer, but in much greater numbers they were getting headaches, insomnia, memory loss, heart arrhythmias, and acute, even life-threatening neurological reactions. “After educating myself over a period of several months,” he recalls, “and discovering that something so evident was considered by the authorities to be groundless fear and little more than a ‘social psychosis’ without scientific basis, I decided to study the effects on fauna and flora. I thought that a ‘collective psychosis’ or ‘groundless fear’ could not be attributed to nonhuman organisms. And so I began to study storks, pigeons, trees, insects, tadpoles… and to publish the results that I was obtaining.”
The effects Balmori found were dramatic and universal. Radiation from cell phone antennas affected every species he looked at. Storks, for example. White storks (Ciconia ciconia) are a common urban bird in many Spanish cities, inhabiting buildings and church steeples alongside sparrows and pigeons. Selecting 60 rooftop nests scattered throughout Valladolid—30 that were within 200 meters of one or more cell sites, and 30 that were further than 300 meters (about 1,000 feet) from any cell sites—Balmori observed the storks with telescopes during the spring of 2003 to determine their breeding success. By measuring the electric field at each location, he verified that the radiation, on average, was four and a half times more intense at the closer locations. Between February 2003 and June 2004 he also paid several hundred visits to 20 nests that were within only 100 meters of a cell site in order to observe the birds during all phases of breeding.
The results, for a wildlife biologist, were profoundly disturbing. The nests that were closer than 200 meters from the nearest cell tower fledged half the number of baby storks as the nests that were further away. Of the 30 highly exposed nests, 12 fledged no chicks at all, while only one of the lesser exposed nests was barren. Of the 12 highly exposed nests where no young were flown, some had hatched out no chicks, and others had produced chicks that died soon after hatching. The behavior of the birds that nested within 100 meters of a tower was just as troubling. Stork couples fought over nest construction. Sticks fell to the ground while the couple tried to build the nest. “Some nests were never completed and the storks remained passively in front of the cell site antennae.”
In light of the plummeting numbers of house sparrows in Europe, Balmori also undertook to monitor the number of sparrows at thirty parks and park-like locations in Vallodolid between 2002 and 2006. He visited each of these points on Sunday mornings, once a month for four years, counting birds and measuring radiation. He found not only that sparrows were becoming generally much fewer over time, but that they were incredibly more numerous in less irradiated areas—42 sparrows per hectare where the electric field was 0.1 volts per meter, down to only one or two sparrows per hectare where the electric field was over 3 volts per meter. It was clear to Balmori why the species was disappearing. The United Kingdom had even added the house sparrow to its Red List of threatened and endangered species after the bird’s population in British cities fell by 75 percent between 1994 and 2002. “This coincides with the rollout of mobile telephony,” he wrote. If the declining trend that he observed in his home town continued, he said, the house sparrow would be extinct in Valladolid by 2020.1
And the apparent effects of the radiation were not confined to storks and sparrows. Antennas had been installed in the “Campo Grande” urban park in Valladolid during the 1990s, and Balmori monitored the avian population there for the next decade. These are some of Balmori’s observations from 2003:
Kestrel: “A general disappearance of the kestrels that had bred every year on nearby roofs, after antennas for mobile telecommunications were installed.”
White Stork: “Although this species is quite opposed to abandon its nest, even under adverse conditions, the nests placed near phone masts’ radiation beams gradually disappeared.”
Rock Dove (domestic): “Many dead specimens appeared near phone mast areas.”
Magpie: “Anomalies were detected in a great number of specimens at points highly contaminated with microwave radiation; such as, plumage deterioration, especially in head and neck, locomotive problems (limps and difficulties in flying), partial albinism and melanism, especially in flanks, and a tendency to stay long in low parts of trees and on the ground.”
Green woodpeckers, short toed treecreepers, and Bonnelli’s warblers, all previously common, disappeared sometime between 1999 and 2001 and were not seen again.
Half of the park’s 14 resident bird species had either seriously declined or vanished despite the fact, as Balmori points out, that air pollution improved.
The decline of the house sparrow is a worldwide tragedy. “Twenty, even 10 years ago, it was unimaginable that the house sparrow would be the focus for discussion at an international ornithological or environmental conference,” wrote Jenny De Laet and James Denis SummersSmith. Their 2007 study found spectacular declines of over 90 percent in house sparrow populations in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Hamburg, Ghent, Antwerp, and Brussels. Scattered throughout Princes Street Gardens, a 50-acre park in central Edinburgh, at least 250 sparrows had resided as recently as 1984. In 1997, only 15 to 30 birds were left, in only a single location. The population of sparrows in Kensington Gardens, a 275-acre park gracing central London, declined from 2,603 in 1925 to just four in 2002. This bird, which has associated with human beings for at least ten thousand years, is vanishing even where there are plenty of seeds and insects, where ornithologists can find no obvious cause for its decline. But there is a cause, and it is hidden in plain sight. Today, twenty-six antenna installations are lined up on the northern, western, and southern borders of Kensington Gardens, operated by Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange, O2, 3, and Airwave. They are saturating this beautiful park with microwaves so that human visitors can use their cell phones and the police can use their radios. The situation in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens is even worse. Thirty-four cell sites surround this much smaller park, most of them less than five meters above the ground. The only location where sparrows still nested in 1997—the Gatekeeper’s cottage—is nestled against the bottom of an artificial hill called The Mound, and is the only spot in the entire park that is not in the direct beam of multiple microwave antennas. The irradiation of these parks that began in 1992 parallels the catastrophic collapse of their house sparrow communities.
The situation in Switzerland has become so alarming that the Swiss Association for the Protection of Birds declared the house sparrow “bird of the year” for 2015. A study conducted by zoologist Sainudeen Pattazhy in Kerala, India during 2008 and 2009 found that house sparrows were virtually extinct there. In Delhi, ornithologist Mohammed Dilawar reminisces that “till March 2001, they were in and out of our home. We left for a while to return to see, the commonest bird had flown the nest.”2 Pattazhy’s conclusion is the same as Balmori’s: cell towers are leaving sparrows no place to live. “Continuous penetration of electromagnetic radiation through the body of birds affects their nervous system and their navigational skills. They become incapable of navigation and foraging. The birds which nest near towers are found to leave the nest within one week,” he says. “One to eight eggs can be present in a clutch. The incubation lasts for 10 to 14 days. But the eggs which are laid in nests near towers failed to hatch even after 30 days.”3
It may seem surprising that sparrows, of all birds, seem to be among the most sensitive to electricity. But we recall from chapter 7 that sparrows were noted to suffer the most among all birds during the influenza pandemic of 1732-1733, following upon the return of sunspots to the sun, and the celestial aurora to polar skies.
The impact of radio waves on bird reproduction is no longer a matter of conjecture. While Balmori was doing his field study on storks, scientists in Greece were proving the effects in their laboratory. Ioannis Magras and Thomas Xenos at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki first exposed 240 newly laid quail eggs in an incubator to the type of radiation emitted by FM radio transmitters. The levels of radiation were about the same as if the birds had built nests one to three hundred yards away from a 50,000-watt tower. But these eggs were exposed for only three days, and for only one hour a day: thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes in the afternoon. Forty-five of the embryos died. None of 60 quail eggs, nearby in an unirradiated incubator, died.
Then the same researchers exposed 60 more quail eggs to pulsed microwaves—the type of radiation emitted by cell towers—continuously for three days, this time at only 5 microwatts per square centimeter, a level of exposure commonly found in cities today. Under these conditions 65 percent of the embryos were killed.
In a third experiment 380 chicken eggs were exposed to microwave radiation at a power level of 8.8 microwatts per square centimeter. Instead of irradiating them as soon as they were laid, the researchers exposed the eggs between the third and tenth days of their development. Under these conditions most of the embryos lived but developed abnormally. Under continuous-wave radiation 86 percent of the eggs hatched, but 14 percent of the chicks died soon after birth. Almost half of the remaining chicks were developmentally retarded and 3 percent had severe birth defects. Pulsed radiation produced a similar number of deaths, about half the number of retarded chicks, and twice the number of birth defects. Of 116 unexposed eggs, only two failed to hatch, none had birth defects, and only two were retarded in development.
Disastrous effects of radio waves on birds were first noticed during the 1930s by those who were most intimately connected with them: homing pigeon racers, and divisions of the military that were still using carrier pigeons for communication. Charles Heitzman, a father of the pigeon-racing sport in the United States, and Major Otto Meyer, former head of the United States Army’s Pigeon Corps, were both alarmed by the large numbers of pigeons losing their way during the heyday years of the expansion of radio broadcasting.4
Apparently, after many pigeon generations, the birds learned to adjust to the new conditions and the problem was largely, though not entirely, forgotten.
Then in the late 1960s a team of Canadian researchers shed some new light on the problem. They were J. Alan Tanner, at Control Systems Laboratory, National Research Council, Canada; César Romero-Sierra, professor of neuroanatomy at Queens University; and Jaime Bigu del Blanco, biophysicist and research associate in the Queens University Department of Anatomy. They began by exposing young chickens to microwave radiation at relatively high power levels, between 10 and 30 milliwatts per square centimeter. The birds usually collapsed to the floor of their cage within 5 to 20 seconds. Even if only their tail feathers were exposed they would scream, defecate, and try to escape. Experiments using pigeons and seagulls gave similar results. But not if the birds were defeathered. Chickens that had been plucked showed no evident reaction to being irradiated until about the twelfth day when their regrowing feathers were about one centimeter long.
The researchers then measured radiation patterns in the laboratory using both individual feathers and arrays of feathers spaced varying distances apart, and proved that bird feathers make fine receiving aerials for microwaves. If this takes place while the bird is flying, they said, “an increase in the microwave field strength should be ‘sensed’ by the bird.”5
In the 1970s, Professor William Keeton at Cornell University proved that pigeons are so sensitive to magnetic disturbances that a change in the earth’s magnetic field amounting to less than one ten-thousandth of its average value significantly altered the takeoff direction of a bird’s homeward flight.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, when cell phone towers proliferated, raising the ambient levels of microwave radiation tens to hundreds of times higher everywhere in the world, when white storks had trouble reproducing near antennas, and when house sparrows made it onto the endangered species list in the United Kingdom, membership in pigeon-racing clubs plummeted and pigeon fanciers were forced to pay renewed attention to a problem they had laid aside in the 1950s. The secretary of the New Ross and District Pigeon Club in Ireland, Jim Power, blamed the new problem of lost birds, which had begun in about 1995, on “satellite television and the mobile telecommunications network.” The story made the front page of the Irish Times.6 Both events—the explosion of cell towers and severe pigeon losses—came to America in 1997.7
In early October 1998 the story made headlines all over the United States as, during a two-week period, pigeon races far and wide ended in disaster, with up to ninety percent of birds going missing. “They’re turning up in barns. Under bird feeders. On window ledges. And sometimes just standing out in the rain,” read the first paragraph of an article in the Washington Post. Out of 1,800 birds competing in a race from New Market, Virginia to Allentown, Pennsylvania, about 1,500 vanished. In a race from western Pennsylvania to suburban Philadelphia, 700 out of 900 pigeons failed to return. In a 350-mile race from Pittsburgh to Brooklyn, 1,000 out of 1,200 birds never showed up. Very few wild birds were out flying. Hawks were not out hunting.8 Geese were scattered all over the sky, instead of in normal “V” formations.9 The trigger for the two weeks of sudden bird disorientation was apparently the commencement of microwave rain falling from satellites. On September 23, 1998, Motorola’s 66 newly-launched Iridium satellites had begun providing the first ever cell phone service from space, everywhere on earth, to its first 2,000 trial subscribers.
Many members of the British Royal Pigeon Racing Association changed the route their birds flew so as to avoid cell towers and lose fewer pigeons.10 In 2004, the Association called for more research into the impact of microwave radiation on birds. And as old-time pigeon racers gradually left the sport in discouragement, they were replaced by young enthusiasts who do not remember what it was like when almost all released pigeons would fly directly back to their roosts. The kinds of extraordinary losses Larry Lucero of New Mexico complained about in 1997—an 80 percent loss of birds in eight weeks of racing—are no longer considered unusual. Sankaralingam, the president of the Chennai Homer Pigeons Association in India, reminisces. “Earlier,” he says, “before the advent of cell phones, if I liberated 100 pigeons in my Kodungaiyur neighborhood, all would return home in a couple of minutes.”11 Texas pigeon racer Robert Benson states that today, “under the best of conditions, a 25% loss before the race can be expected. It is not surprising to see a 75% loss.” “The number of losses occurring each year,” says Kevin Murphy at Scotland’s Angus College, “is showing no signs of improvement and whenever you speak to pigeon fanciers it’s the same old story; high losses in young birds and very few fanciers that are able to build up an established team of 3, 4 and 5 year old experienced birds.”
In an exercise in scientific folly, Murphy is proposing to solve the problem by developing a GSM/GPS device that will be fitted onto pigeons’ legs to keep track of wayward birds. Initially this is a research project—designed, he says, to see if solar flares and magnetic storms affect the birds’ homing ability. But the devices will track birds by satellites and cell phone towers—the very things that are now responsible for far more pigeon losses than solar flares. Worse, the devices, being radio transmitters themselves, will expose the birds at point blank range to far more radiation than distant cell towers.
Microchipping pigeons to keep track of them is not yet standard practice in this sport. But in recent years pigeon racers are already making a bad situation worse by attaching radio frequency identification (RFID) “chip rings” to each bird’s foot during every race, so that when the bird arrives home and crosses the finish line, an RFID scanner automatically records the time of arrival. These are passive devices containing no batteries and rely on external sources of energy to activate them. But sudden deaths of exotic birds immediately after being microchipped are not unusual.12 And as so many electrically sensitive people are discovering—people who can’t handle their own chip embedded drivers’ licenses and passports—the radio frequency oscillators inside even passive devices pollute their immediate environment enough to affect the nervous systems even of organisms without any homing ability.
Attaching a radio tracking device to a wild animal is like giving the animal a cell phone to wear. Land-based wildlife tracking systems use frequencies between 148 and 220 MHz and emit 10 milliwatts of power, day and night. Satellite tracking systems, such as are used to track dolphins and whales, require the animal to wear a much stronger transmitter, radiating from 250 milliwatts up to 2 watts of power—equivalent to giving the animal a satellite phone to wear. These are also used to track turtles, sharks, polar bears, musk oxen, camels, wolves, elephants, and other animals that roam or swim very long distances. They are also used on long-migrating or elusive birds, such as albatrosses, bald eagles, penguins, and swans.[and humans are worried about aliens messing with us, we ought not to be doing these things to the animals DC]
Snakes, amphibians, and bats are being radio tagged. Even butterflies, and fish in lakes and rivers are being outfitted with transmitters. If a creature exists today that is large enough to fashion antennas for, you may be assured that resourceful wildlife biologists have devised ways to affix them onto members of its species, be it by means of collars, harnesses, or surgical implants. In a misguided effort to discover why honey bees are disappearing, Australia’s leading scientific research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, is in process of attaching RFID tags with superglue to the backs of two and a half million bees and placing RFID readers inside one thousand hives.
On February 6, 2002, the U.S. National Park Service issued a report warning wildlife biologists that radio tracking devices could radically alter the very behaviors they are using the devices to study, and that not only the physical dimensions of the devices, but the radio waves they emit could be detrimental to the animals’ health.13 Effects of radio-tagging birds, according to this and other reports, have included increased preening, weight loss, abandonment of brood, reduced time spent in flight, increased metabolism, avoidance of water, decreased courtship activity, decreased feeding activity, decreased clutch survival, reduced wing growth, greater susceptibility to predation, lowered reproductive success, and increased mortality.14
Radio collared mammals, including rabbits, voles, lemmings, badgers, foxes, deer, moose, armadillos, river otters, sea otters, and wild dogs in the Serengeti 15 have suffered increased mortality, impaired digging ability, weight loss, reduced activity levels, increased self-grooming, altered social interactions, reproductive failure, and profoundly altered sex ratios of offspring. In one study of moose, calves with plain ear tags and calves without any ear tags had equal mortality rates—about 10 percent—while 68 percent of calves with ear tags that contained transmitters died. This had the researchers scratching their heads because they could find no difference between the plain tags and the ones that killed the calves except the presence of radio waves.16 In another study, involving water voles at England’s Bure Marshes National Nature Reserve, colonies that contained radio tagged females gave birth to more than four times as many males as females. The researchers concluded that likely none of the radio tagged female voles gave birth to any female offspring.17
In some cases radio tagging endangered species may drive them further toward extinction. In 1998, the first Siberian snow tiger ever to go through her pregnancy and give birth while wearing a radio collar delivered a litter of four, of which two died from genetic abnormalities.18
The results of an extensive review of the literature, published in 2003, examining 836 scientific studies on radio tagged animals, found that 90 percent of them ignored the effects of the radio tags on the animals, making a tacit assumption that they had no significant impact. But of those studies that asked the question, the majority found one or more detrimental effects of these devices on their bearers.19
Professor Keeton’s work has widespread importance for bird conservation. Even in captivity, when the migratory season is upon them, songbirds will face the direction in which they have an urge to fly. Therefore, scientists at the University of Oldenburg in Germany were shocked to find, beginning in 2004, that the migratory songbirds they had been studying were no longer able to orient themselves toward the north in spring and toward the southwest in autumn. Suspecting that electromagnetic pollution might be responsible, they surrounded the aviaries in which they kept European robins with grounded aluminum sheeting beginning in the winter of 2006-2007. “The effect on the birds’ orientation capabilities was profound,” wrote the authors of the study, which they published in 2014. Only when the aluminum sheeting was grounded did the birds orient normally in springtime. And since the enclosure, when not grounded, only admitted frequencies below 20 MHz, the birds were evidently being disoriented not by cell towers, but by radiation originating from AM radio towers, as well as from ordinary household electronic equipment. In a rural area outside Oldenburg, the robins were still able to orient themselves without the aluminum screening. But the scientists issued a warning: “If anthropogenic electromagnetic fields prevent migratory songbirds from using their magnetic compass, their chances of surviving the migratory journey might be significantly reduced, in particular during periods of overcast weather when sun and star compass information is unavailable. Night-migratory songbird populations are declining rapidly.”20
In 1996, when I was writing my first book, Microwaving Our Planet: The Environmental Impact of the Wireless Revolution, the decline of frogs, toads, salamanders, and other amphibians the world over caught my attention like an alarm bell. Why weren’t people more concerned, I wondered? Like the debris of recently wrecked craft, this catastrophe should provide the ship of humanity with urgent cause to shift direction. “An Amphibian Horror Story,” screamed a headline from New York Newsday.21 “Trouble in the Lily Pads,” announced Time Magazine.22 “Space Aliens Stealing Our Frogs,” read a supermarket tabloid.23 It seemed that mutant frogs were turning up by the thousands in pristine lakes, streams, and forests all across the American midwest. Their deformed legs, extra legs, missing eyes, misplaced eyes, and other genetic mistakes were frightening school children out on field trips.24 Every species of frog and toad in Yosemite National Park, I learned, was disappearing. The boreal toad, which used to be so abundant near Boulder, Colorado that drivers would squish large numbers on mountain roads, had dwindled to about five percent of its former population.25 When I dug deeper I learned that frogs were falling silent in other countries too, and had been doing so for over a decade. In the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve of Costa Rica, the famous and highly protected golden toad, named for its brightly colored skin, had gone extinct. Eight of thirteen frog species in a Brazilian rainforest preserve had vanished. The gastric-brooding frog of Australia, I read, named for its habit of incubating its young in its stomach, “broods no longer.”26 Seventy-five species of the colorful harlequin frogs that once lived near streams in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere had not been seen since the 1980s.27
What so puzzled scientists was not just that an entire very ancient class of animals—the Amphibia—were disappearing, but that they were vanishing in so many pristine, remote environments that were thought to be unpolluted. Which is one of the aspects of the story that so grabbed my attention. Environmentalists, for the most part, like the rest of modern humanity, have one terrific blind spot: they don’t acknowledge electromagnetic radiation as an environmental factor, and they are comfortable with placing power lines, telephone relay towers, cell towers, and radar stations in the middle of the most remote, pristine mountainous locations, never realizing that they are intensely polluting those environments. I was only speculating, at that time, that the discovery of grossly deformed frogs in the midwest was related to the increasingly frequent reports from farmers in the midwest of cows and horses born with webbed necks and legs on backwards after cell towers were built on or next to their farms.28 It seemed more than coincidental that the reports of misshapen amphibia were coming from popular lake vacation districts, which were almost certain to have had cell towers built during 1996.
Balmori’s curiosity paralleled mine, and in 2009, he put his speculations to the test. During a two-month period he took care of two almost identical tanks of tadpoles of the common frog that he set out on the fifth floor terrace of an apartment in Valladolid. One hundred forty meters (450 feet) away, on the roof of an eight-story building, stood four cellular phone base stations, which were irradiating the neighborhood. The only difference between the two tanks of tadpoles was that a layer of thin fabric was draped over one. The fabric, woven with metallic fibers, admitted air and light but kept out radio waves. The results were a shocking confirmation of what was occurring out in the rest of the world: in a period of two months, the mortality rate was 90 percent in the exposed tank, and only 4 percent in the shielded tank. Almost all of the exposed tadpoles—exposed only to what the residents of the apartment building were also exposed to—swam in an uncoordinated fashion, showed little interest in food, and died after six weeks. Balmori titled his 2010 article, “Mobile Phone Mast Effects on Common Frog (Rana temporaria) Tadpoles: The City Turned Into a Laboratory.”
In the late 1990s, researchers in Moscow had put these kinds of effects to the test in another urban laboratory, using another device that we all take for granted. They exposed developing frog embryos and tadpoles to an ordinary personal computer. The resulting frogs had severe malformations that included anencephaly (absence of a brain), absence of a heart, absence of limbs, tail necrosis, and other deformities that were “incompatible with survival.”29
The insect world is as susceptible to electromagnetic pollution as the amphibian world. In fact, as Alexander Chan discovered in 2004, it is so easy to demonstrate the effects of computers and cell phones on diminutive creatures that even a sophomore in high school can do it for a science fair project. Then fifteen years old and a student at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Queens, New York, Chan exposed fruit fly larvae daily to a loudspeaker, a computer monitor, and a cell phone and observed their development. The flies that were exposed to the cell phone failed to develop wings. “Radiation and electromagnetic emissions are really more harmful than anyone realizes,” the stunned teenager concluded.30
At the University of Athens, Dimitris Panagopoulous has been doing similar work with fruit flies for a decade and a half, and producing results that are just as alarming. Like Chan—and unlike most other scientists doing research on electromagnetic radiation—he and his colleagues in the Department of Cell Biology and Biophysics decided to expose their flies not to specialized equipment, but to an ordinary cell phone in use. In their first experiments, in 2000, they found that a few minutes’ exposure was enough to radically interfere with fly reproduction. Exposing adult flies to the antenna of a working cell phone for just six minutes a day for five consecutive days reduced the number of eggs they laid by 50 to 60 percent. When the insects were exposed for only two days, i.e. a total of twelve minutes of radiation, the number of eggs was reduced by an average of 42 percent. Even flies that were exposed for only one minute a day for five days produced 36 percent fewer offspring than their unexposed cousins. Regardless of whether just male flies, just female flies, or both were exposed, the number of offspring was greatly reduced. Their experiments cried out for an explanation, because such rapid sterilization was an effect scientists were used to seeing from X-rays, not from an ordinary cell phone.31 So in follow-up experiments, after zapping the flies with a cell phone for five days—again for six minutes a day—the researchers killed the flies and used a standard technique—the TUNEL assay—to look for fragmented DNA in the ovaries and egg chambers of the female flies. Using this technique they proved that the brief exposure to a cell phone was causing the death and degeneration of 50 to 60 percent of both eggs and their supporting cells at all stages of development.32
In later experiments these scientists have found “intensity windows” of maximal effect—a not uncommon finding in electromagnetic research. In other words, the greatest damage is not always done by the greatest levels of radiation. Holding your cell phone away from your head may actually worsen the damage. Using a 900 MHz phone, Panagopoulos’ flies produced even fewer offspring when the antenna was held a foot away—reducing the exposure level by a factor of almost 40—than when the antenna was actually touching the vial of flies. With an 1800 MHz phone, maximum mortality occurred at a distance of eight inches.33 In a large series of further experiments, exposure to a cordless phone base station, a cordless phone handset, a WiFi router, a baby monitor, a microwave oven, and several different kinds of bluetooth devices each lowered the numbers of offspring of two different species of fruit flies by up to 30 percent. Exposure time varied from 6 minutes, just once, up to thirty minutes a day for nine days. Every experiment, regardless of exposure time, produced cell death in the developing eggs and at least a ten percent reduction in the number of offspring.34
And in Belgium, entomologist Marie-Claire Cammaerts has shown, in experiments that any high school student could duplicate, that a cell phone is clearly and obviously dangerous even when it is turned off, as long as the battery remains in it. She brought thousands of ants into her laboratory at the Free University of Brussels, placed an older model flip phone under their colonies where they could neither see nor smell it, and simply watched them walk. When the phone contained no battery it affected the ants not at all. Neither did the battery alone. But as soon as the battery was placed in the phone—even though it was still turned off—the ants’ helter-skelter movements became radically disturbed. The little creatures darted back and forth with increased vigor, as if trying to escape an enemy they could not see. The rate at which they changed directions—their angular speed— increased by 80 percent. When the phone was then put into standby mode, they changed directions even more. Finally, Cammaerts turned the phone on. Within two to three seconds, the insects visibly slowed down.
Cammaerts next exposed a fresh ant colony to a smartphone and then a “DECT” cordless phone. In each case the creatures’ angular speed doubled or tripled, while their actual walking speed drastically slowed. This happened within one to three seconds. When the DECT phone was on, the ants were “nearly paralyzed.” After being thus exposed for three minutes to each of the two pieces of equipment, they required two to four hours before they appeared normal again. Cammaerts then repeated the experiment with a fresh colony, this time placing a flip phone in standby mode under the ants’ nest instead of under its foraging area. Immediately all the ants left their nest, taking their eggs, larvae, and nymphs with them. “It looked spectacular,” she said. “They relocated their nest far from the place under which the mobile phone was located. After the experimentation, when the mobile phone has been removed, the ants returned to their initial nest, transporting back their brood into the nest. This relocation lasted about one hour.”
Finally, Cammaerts tested a WiFi router, placed between two colonies of ants, about one foot away from each colony. While the router was still switched off, nothing unusual happened. But “after a few seconds of exposure, the ants clearly presented signs of bad health and, consequently, a disturbed behavior.” After being exposed to the router for thirty minutes, the ants had to recover for six to eight hours before foraging as usual again. “Unfortunately,” wrote Cammaerts, “several ants never recovered and were found dead a few days later.”
For his part, Panagopoulos, in a chapter of a 2012 book about Drosophila melanogaster, has issued a severe and unusual warning to the world: “The experimental results of ours as well as of other experimenters show that microwave exposure even for a few minutes per day and for only a few days, at exposure levels encountered in our everyday environment, is maybe the most intense modern environmental stress factor compared to other environmental stress factors tested so far, like starvation, heat, chemicals, electric or magnetic fields.” He warned that DNA damage to the developing egg may “result in inherited mutations transferred to subsequent generations. For this reason the biological changes due to microwave radiation may be far more dangerous as they may not be restricted only to changes in reproductive capacity.”
Colony Collapse Disorder
In recent years an apocryphal story has circulated about Albert Einstein. “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth,” he is supposed to have said, “man would have no more than four years to live.”
Perishing honey bees do constitute a warning to the world, but the real story is not circulating because it is not yet acceptable to remove the cultural blinders regarding electricity. Beekeepers the world over are still poisoning their bees against parasites that are not killing them, instead of paying attention to the influence that is.
“I observed a pronounced restlessness in my bee colonies,” wrote Ferdinand Ruzicka to the Austrian beekeeping community in 2002, “and a greatly increased urge to swarm.” Ruzicka, a medical physicist retired from the University of Vienna, is also an amateur beekeeper. He observed the strange behavior after telecommunications antennas appeared in a field near his hives. “I am a frame-hive beekeeper,” he wrote. “The bees now built their honeycombs not in the manner prescribed by the frames, but in a helter skelter fashion. In the summer, the colonies collapsed without any obvious cause. In the winter, despite snow and below zero temperatures, the bees would fly out and freeze to death next to the hive. Colonies that exhibited this behavior collapsed, even though they were strong, healthy colonies with active queens before the winter. They were provided with adequate additional food and the fall pollen supply had been more than sufficient.”
Ruzicka told his story in Bienenwelt (“Bee World”) and published a survey form in Bienenvater (“Beekeeper”),35 requesting to be contacted by others with antennas near their hives. The majority of Bienenvater readers who filled out his form corroborated what he had written: their bees had become suddenly aggressive when the antennas appeared, and had begun to swarm; their healthy colonies had vanished for no other reason.36
As we saw in chapter 9, bee colonies have been disappearing near communication towers for over a century. On the small island lying off England’s southern coast where Marconi sent the world’s first long-distance radio transmission in 1901, the bees began to vanish. By 1906, the island, then host to the greatest density of radio transmissions in the world, was almost empty of bees. Thousands, unable to fly, were found crawling and dying on the ground outside their hives. Healthy bees imported from the mainland began dying within a week of arrival.
During the next few decades “Isle of Wight disease” was reported throughout Great Britain and in Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United States.37 Almost everyone assumed it was infectious, and in 1912, when Graham Smith at Cambridge University found a parasite called Nosema apis in the stomachs of some diseased bees, most people thought the mystery had been solved. However, this theory was soon disproven by John Anderson and John Rennie in Scotland; swarms of bees that were “crawling” with Isle of Wight disease were free of Nosema, while healthy stocks were found teeming with the parasite. Finally the two researchers deliberately infected a colony with Nosema. It did not produce disease.
So the search went on for a different parasite, and in 1919 Rennie presented Acarapis woodi, which inhabited bees’ breathing passages. His article in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh had such wide influence that the tracheal mite is today regarded as one of the two major parasitic infections of bees that are responsible for colony collapse disorder. It supposedly kills bees by sucking their blood and clogging their breathing tubes. In fact, this is so widely accepted that it is standard practice for commercial beekeepers to treat all their bees with miticides to kill both tracheal mites and a second kind of mite, the Varroa mite. However, in the late 1950s the tracheal mite theory was disproved, too, by the eminent British bee pathologist, Leslie Bailey. Not only did he show that mite-infested bees did not die at greater rates than non-infested bees, but he deliberately infected healthy bees with the parasite and proved that it did not cause disease. The only effect of infestations, wrote Bailey in 1991, is to “shorten very slightly the life of bees, but usually causing no obvious sickness in spite of the abnormal appearance of infested tracheae.”
Bailey also warned against attaching too much importance to the Varroa mite, which, he said, had achieved its notoriety partly because of its size: it is the only common parasite of honey bees that can be seen with the naked eye and identified with a hand lens.38 Varroa mites, after all, while not harmless, have coexisted with wild populations of honey bees for a century in Japan 39 and Russia,40 and more recently in Serbia,41 Tunisia,42 Sweden,43 Brazil,44 Uruguay,45 and even parts of California 46 and New York.47 Other environmental factors, said Bailey, determine the amount of damage done by this parasite.
The problem of Isle of Wight disease smoldered for decades, not often making the news. But the number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States has been quietly declining since the 1940s.48 During the 1960s and 1970s unexplained large losses acquired a new name— “disappearing disease”—and was reported in Montana, Nebraska, Louisiana, California, Texas, Europe, Mexico, Argentina, and Australia. Beekeepers would open their hives in autumn or winter to find ample supplies of stored pollen and honey but no bees. Where some dead or living bees remained, they were not malnourished and had no mites or other parasites, bacteria, viruses, or poisons. Attempts to transmit the condition by introducing bees from “diseased” hives into healthy ones failed. When a survey was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1975, the problem turned up in 33 states, with beekeepers often volunteering that it had been prevalent in their colonies for ten or fifteen years, and that it was getting worse with each passing year.49
Then, during the last half of the 1990s, when the telecommunications industry was beginning to weave its web of antennas over cities, farmland, and wildland, American farmers reawoke to a crisis. The smoldering, half-forgotten problem about disappearing bees was erupting in flames. “Farmers Stung By Bee Shortages,” warned a headline in the June 15, 1996 edition of the Washington Post. During the previous winter, beekeepers had lost 45 percent of their hives in Kentucky, 60 percent in Michigan, 80 percent in Maine.50 Farmers were also waking up to the fact that wild bees weren’t going to be there to take over the job of pollinating their crops, because 90 percent of all feral honey bee colonies nationwide had already disappeared.51 All this havoc—at least in the United States—was thought to have been caused by two bee parasites, the tracheal mite and the even more voracious Varroa mite, assumed to have hitchhiked into the United States in shipments of infected bees from Europe and Asia during the 1980s.
But the alarm spread to Europe during the winter of 2002-2003. Officially there was no panic: colony losses were “only” 20 percent in Sweden and 29 percent in Germany. Swedish beekeeper Börje Svensson, who published an article titled “Silent Spring in northern Europe?”, begged to differ. When he opened up his hives that winter, 50 out of 70 colonies were devoid of life. A neighbor had lost 95 of 120 colonies, and another neighbor lost 24 of 25. Fellow beekeepers in Austria, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and Finland were reporting similar huge losses, although many could find no Varroa mites, and no sign of foulbrood, sacbrood, chalkbrood, Nosema, or other bee diseases.
Finally, during the winter of 2006-2007, what was once known as Isle of Wight disease became a worldwide panzootic, frightening farmers and the public everywhere, and was given yet another name: colony collapse disorder.52 The United States lost one-third of its honey bees in just a few months, with many beekeepers experiencing a total loss of their bees.53 First thought to be confined to Europe, North America and Brazil,54 colony collapse disorder soon spread to China, India, Japan, and Africa.55 Farmers in many countries are pollinating growing acreages of crops with half as many bees, and replenishing their losses with greater difficulty and expense with each succeeding year.
And the culprit, according to a study conducted by a joint team of American and Belgian researchers, does not seem to be tracheal mites, Varroa mites, Nosema, or any other particular infectious disease vector. During the disastrous winter of 2006-2007, this team, headed by Jeffery Pettis of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory, examined thirteen large apiaries owned by eleven different commercial beekeepers in Florida and California, and to their amazement were unable to find any specific nutritional, toxic, or infectious factor that differentiated bees or colonies with and without colony collapse disorder. Tracheal mites were actually more than three times as prevalent in the healthy colonies as in the decimated colonies. Even the supposedly devastating Varroa mite was not more prevalent in collapsed or collapsing colonies. The only helpful conclusion that these scientists were able to come to was that “some other factor” must be responsible for the bees’ weakened state, and that the “other factor” seemed to be location-specific: colonies with this disorder tended to cluster together.
The picture of this disease that has beekeepers so thoroughly baffled resembles nothing so much as the scene of an apparent mass murder where there is not even any real evidence of a crime. A million colonies a year in the United States disappear overnight without leaving a trace. The queen bee and mother of the hive is simply abandoned by the workers and left to starve and die. What has scientists even more stumped is that the dead colonies tend to be left alone even by the parasites that normally infest dead honey bee colonies. It is as though there were a large “KEEP OUT” sign at the entrance to these hives that is respected by friend and foe alike.
The international beekeeping community is extremely resistant to giving up its long-standing belief in the infectious nature of bee losses, and so, in the absence of evidence, most beekeepers are falling back on the only thing they know: more toxic pesticides to kill mites.56
But the decimation of so many other insect species that are not subject to the same parasites is a strong hint that a non-infectious agent is at work. The Franklin bumble bee, once prevalent in southwestern Oregon, has not been seen in a decade. Until the mid-1990s, the western bumblebee was abundant in forests, fields, and urban backyards throughout western North America, from New Mexico to Saskatchewan to Alaska. It has vanished except for small pockets in the Colorado Rockies. The rusty-patched bumble bee, a familiar visitor to flowers on the Cornell University campus when I was a student there, has not been seen in New York State since 2004. Once common in 26 states and two Canadian provinces, this insect has disappeared from the eastern United States and Canada and has drastically declined in the American midwest. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation lists 57 species of bees and 49 species of butterflies and moths native to North America and Hawaii as vulnerable, imperiled, or extinct in their entire range.57 The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife lists 46 species of butterflies and moths that are threatened and endangered in Massachusetts.
Exquisite sensitivity to electromagnetic fields has been demonstrated in a variety of insects. Termites, for example, will avoid building their galleries near other groups of termites, so as not to compete for food. In 1977, Günther Becker proved that the signal that enables groups of termites to avoid competing with each other passes through walls and can be blocked by aluminum, but not by thick polystyrene and not by solid glass. The signal blocked by the aluminum had to be alternating electric fields emitted by the insects.
It must not be forgotten, warns German biologist Ulrich Warnke, that every insect is equipped with a pair of antennas, which are demonstrably electromagnetic sensors.58 In fact, the signals communicated between honey bees when they meet and touch antennas can be recorded by an oscilloscope and appear to be frequency modulated between 180 Hz and 250 Hz.59
And the famous waggle dance, Warnke reminds us, by means of which honey bees tell each other the precise direction of food sources with respect to the sun, depends on their knowing the exact position of the sun, even on cloudy days, and within the darkness of the hive. Bees accomplish this feat by sensing minute variations in the earth’s magnetic field—a sense, he says, that can be rendered useless under the assault of wireless transmissions with their constantly changing magnetic fields.60
The quickest way to destroy a bee hive, investigators have found, is to place a wireless telephone inside it. The results of such experiments, considering the complete denial by our society that wireless technology has any environmental effects at all, have been almost unbelievable.
In 2009, environmental scientist Ved Parkash Sharma and zoologist Neelima Kumar, at Panjab University in India, placed two cell phones each—one in talk mode and one in listening mode in order to maintain the connection—in two of four hives. They turned them on at 11:00 in the morning for 15 minutes, and at 3:00 in the afternoon for another 15 minutes. They did this twice a week between February and April. As soon as the phones were turned on the bees would become quiet and still “as if unable to decide what to do.” During the course of three months fewer and fewer bees flew in and out of those two hives. The number of eggs laid by the queen declined from 546 to 145 per day. The area under brood declined from 2,866 to 760 square centimeters. Honey stores declined from 3,200 to 400 square centimeters. “At the end of the experiment there was neither honey, nor pollen nor brood nor bees in the colony resulting in complete loss of the colony,” wrote the authors.
The following year Kumar performed a landmark experiment, described in more detail in chapter 11, that showed dramatically and simply how electromagnetic fields interfere with cellular metabolism. She repeated the exposure of the previous year and then analyzed the bees’ blood, or hemolymph, as it is called. After the cell phones had been on for only ten minutes, the concentration of glucose, cholesterol, total carbohydrates, total lipids, and total protein rose tremendously. In other words, after just ten minutes of exposure to cell phones, the bees practically could not metabolize sugars, proteins, or fats. As in humans (see chapters 11, 12, 13, and 14), their cells were becoming oxygen starved. But it happens much faster in bees. When the phones were left on longer than 20 minutes, the bees, at first quiet, became aggressive and started beating their wings in agitation.
Daniel Favre, at the Apiary School of the City of Lausanne, Switzerland, repeated the experiment and took it yet another step farther: he made a detailed analysis of the sounds made by the suddenly aggressive bees. He confirmed that bees exposed to a cell phone would become quiet and still when first exposed to a cell phone, and that within 30 minutes they would start to produce loud, high frequency sounds. When the phones had been on for 20 hours, the bees were still buzzing like mad 12 hours later. When Favre analyzed the sounds, he determined that they were the so called “worker piping,” which is usually produced by bees only when they are preparing to swarm, shortly before takeoff.
Favre’s bees did not actually leave their hive after a single 20-hour exposure, but Sainudeen Pattazhy bees did, after a much shorter total exposure. A professor at Sree Narayana College, Pattazhy basically repeated Kumar’s initial experiment, except that instead of exposing his bees only twice a week he exposed them briefly everyday. He placed one cell phone inside each of six bee hives and turned the phone on for just ten minutes, once a day for ten days. While the phone was on, the bees became still. An average of 18 bees left the hive per minute while the phone was on, compared to 38 per minute at other times. The egg-laying rate of the queen declined from 355 to 100 per day. And after ten days no bees were left in any of the hives.61
Europe’s first UMTS network, which is now known as “3G,” short for “third generation,” and which turned every cell phone into a computer, and every cell tower into a transmitter of broadband radiation, went into service in the fall of 2002—just before the disastrous winter during which so many of Europe’s honey bees vanished.
Warnke believes that HAARP—the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project—is responsible for the worldwide outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder that began in the winter of 2006-2007.62
An “ionospheric heater” owned until recently by the United States Air Force and operated jointly with the Navy and the University of Alaska, HAARP is only the most powerful radio transmitter on earth. Capable of emitting a peak effective radiated power of four billion watts, its purpose is to set the biosphere to ringing. HAARP, whose 180 antenna towers sit on the northwest tip of Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, has turned the ionosphere itself—the life-giving layer of sky to which every creature is tuned (see chapter 9)—into a gigantic radio transmitter useful for military communications, including communication with submarines. By aiming a narrow beam of pulsating energy upwards, there near the North Pole where the aurora meets the earth, Project HAARP can force rivers of sky to broadcast radio transmissions at the frequency of the pulsations, and to send those signals to almost everywhere on earth. In 1988, when planning for HAARP was still in its early stages, physicist Richard Williams, a consultant to Princeton University’s David Sarnoff Laboratory, called the project “an irresponsible act of global vandalism.” “Look at the power levels that will be used!” he wrote in Physics and Society, the newsletter of the American Physical Society. “This is equivalent to the output of ten to 100 large power-generating stations.” In 1994, when HAARP’s first 18 antennas were about to be put into service, Williams was interviewed by Earth Island Journal. “A ten-billion-watt generator,” he said, “running continuously for one hour, would deliver a quantity of energy equal to that of a Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb.”
In March 1999, HAARP expanded to 48 antennas and an effective radiated power of almost one billion watts. The rest of its complement of 180 antennas were delivered between 2004 and 2006, enabling the facility to reach its full intended power during the winter of 2006-2007. Although the Air Force shut HAARP down in 2014 and proposed to dismantle the facility, it instead was acquired by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which reopened the facility in February 2017 and has made it available to the scientific community for research. The university is operating the facility at a loss, and it announced in 2019 that if it does not get sufficient funding, it will shut down HAARP permanently.
The frequencies of HAARP, says Warnke, superimpose unnatural magnetic fields on the natural resonant frequencies of the sky, whose daily variations have not changed since life appeared on earth. This is disastrous for bees. They “lose an orientation,” he says, “that served them for millions of years as a reliable indicator of the time of day.”
The Path Into the Dying Forest
Around 1980 the world awoke to a new, seemingly random environmental problem: forest die-off. Large swaths of trees would grow up stunted, age prematurely, drop their leaves, and perish without visible cause. Other stands, tall and vigorous, would suddenly lose all their upper leaves and die from the top down. In the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, and in Central Europe such tragedies were blamed on acid rain, contaminated by the sulphuric effluent of industrial civilization. But on remote mountain ridges, forests breathing unpolluted air were suffering from a similar infirmity. Wolfgang Volkrodt, retired physicist and electrical engineer, thought he knew why.
Volkrodt, who formerly worked for Siemens, the multinational technology giant, had become interested in trees because of the strange behavior of the forests in the wooded development at Bad Neustadt, Germany, where he lived. On the north side of his home the fir trees had been sickly for years, while on the south side all the trees were strong and robust. How, he mused, could acid rain fall only on one side of his house? This astute observation led him to investigate not only the trees but the soil. “It seems clear that soil acidification in Central Europe has increased significantly during the past decades,” he wrote later. “Paradoxically this is true even in clean air regions that receive only traces of ‘acid rain.’ This poses the puzzling question of how soil can become acidic in the absence of chemical precipitation from the air. There must be additional culprits.”
The existence of a military installation twelve miles to the north of his home made an impression on Volkrodt as an electrical engineer, and when he took measurements on his property he found that the dying trees north of his house were not only being exposed to distant military radar, but happened to be in the direct beam of a nearby transmitter used for postal communications. The healthy trees south of his home were situated where they were not exposed to either. He then set out to determine whether this was just coincidental.
“I traveled through the mountains of the Fichtelgebirge, the Black Forest, the Bavarian Forest and the Salzburger Land,” he wrote. “And in every location where military radar stations or postal, telephone and telegraph relay towers are subjecting the forest to radiation, the tree damage cannot be overlooked. I also traveled around Switzerland. The situation is exactly the same.” And wherever he saw damaged forests near radar stations, there the soil was dead and acidic.
At the International Congress on Forest Decline Research in Lake Constance in 1989, Volkrodt displayed hundreds of photographs of dead forests, all of which were in line of sight of a radar installation, and he presented his theory. “Needles and leaf-ribs of trees are resonant absorbers like antennas,” he said. “And it may be that microwave energy will be changed into an electrical current. The electrons migrate as ionic bonds from the leaves, the trunk and then through the roots into the soil. In the soil a kind of electrolytic deposition happens, making aluminum, among other things, soluble and generally making the soil acidic similar to the effect of acid rain.” Of course, no formal studies had been done on the magnitude of induced currents in trees caused by radar stations, but his theory generated interest among the forest biologists at the conference and elsewhere. He soon was receiving reports from observers in Canada confirming his prediction that the line of early warning radar stations lining the Canadian far north from Atlantic to Pacific were killing the trees in front of them.
Following up on experiments by forest biologist Aloys Hüttermann, who had measured microwave-induced current flow in tree needles and leaves, Volkrodt did some elementary calculations. He assumed that a tiny amount of energy—a tenth of a watt—was being absorbed by a section of forest standing before a directional radio antenna transmitting long distance telephone service at a few watts of power from one point to another. He further assumed that the stand contained 100 trees, each having 100 square meters of leaf surface, which was capable of converting the microwave energy into an electrical current. Intuitively, the total of only a tenth of a watt of microwave radiation, spread out over an acre of soil, seemed insignificant, but when Volkrodt took into consideration the factor of time, he came to an astonishing conclusion. “Within 10 years of exposure to the directional energy,” he wrote, “the seemingly minute 0.1 watts received by the group of trees adds up to 8.8 kilowatt hours.” 8.8 kilowatt hours of electricity, he calculated, is sufficient to create 2,000 liters of hydrogen gas within the soil by the electrolytic splitting of water. This would acidify the soil, even without a trace of acid rain. And when Volkrodt considered that radar installations sometimes broadcast not a few watts but a few million watts, he realized that such an installation could acidify a phenomenal amount of soil.
Partial confirmation of Volkrodt’s theory came from unpublished field experiments in Switzerland. Young fir trees were irradiated with microwaves at a power density below 10 milliwatts per square centimeter. After four months the trees had lost nearly all their needles, and the soil in which they were growing was dead and acid.
Meanwhile, foresters in Central Europe were observing a very rapid deterioration in forest health. In West Germany, where the alarm was first sounded, white fir trees began mysteriously to decline around 1970. Spruce caught the affliction in about 1979, Scots pine in about 1980, and European beech in about 1981. Before long, symptoms of ill health and abnormal growth afflicted almost every species of forest tree and several herbs and shrubs. The area of forest affected rose from about 8 percent in 1982, to about 34 percent in 1983, to about half the forests in 1984.63 Dieoff was most severe at high elevations. To Volkrodt, a simple explanation was at hand: a large number of powerful radar stations, built or upgraded during the 1970s and 1980s, were irradiating the mountain ranges on both sides of the border between East and West Germany.
When Germany was reunited, and the radars protecting its former parts were scrapped, Volkrodt made another prediction: “The forest, with parts of it having been irradiated by these installations for two to three decades, now has a chance to regenerate.” And this prediction also came true. In 2002, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in cooperation with the European Commission, surveyed the conditions of all of the forests of Europe. The resulting report painted a telling portrait: during the mid-1990s, following the end of the Cold War, the forests not only in Germany, but throughout Europe, had recovered their vitality.
During those years of the 1990s, famous experiments were done in Switzerland, Poland, and Latvia, sponsored by the governments of those countries, proving the effects of radio transmissions on people, farm animals, wildlife, and forests—experiments that it would shortly not be possible to do any more.
The small town of Skrunda, 150 kilometers from Latvia’s capital, Riga, was once just a few kilometers away from a Russian early warning radar station that scanned the northwestern sky. Its two units went into operation in 1967 and 1971. From the very beginning these radars, situated in a green valley surrounded by farms, were the subject of vigorous complaints from local residents— complaints that the radiation was destroying their health, their crops, their animals, and their forests. Finally, in 1989, as the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War was ending, the government put out a call for scientists to submit proposals for studies that would put these claims to the test. Physicians, epidemiologists, cell biologists, botanists, ornithologists, and physicists from throughout Latvia converged on the region to do field studies. And to the surprise of the organizers the researchers, almost without exception, found evidence of biological damage. The findings were presented at a conference held June 17 to 21, 1994, called The Effect of Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation on Organisms.
School children in the area—even children who lived twenty kilometers away from the radar— had impaired motor function, memory, and attention. When asked to press two keys with their right and left hands as fast as they could for thirty seconds, children from Skrunda could not do it as fast as children from Preiļi, an agricultural community similar in every respect except that no radar station stood nearby. Asked to press a button when they heard a tone or saw a flash of light, they could not react as fast. The Preiļi children could remember longer and more complex numbers than the Skrunda children. And within Skrunda, children who lived on the western slope of the valley, directly exposed to the radar, had worse memories than children who lived further away. Standard psychological tests evaluated their ability to focus attention on a task, and to switch attention between tasks. Again the Preiļi children did better than the lesser exposed Skrunda children, who did better than the children living on the western slope.
The directly exposed children also had lower lung capacity and higher white blood cell counts than other children. In fact, the entire population of Skrunda had higher white cell counts and suffered from more headaches and sleep disturbances than a more distant community.64 The radiation even appeared to have impacted human reproduction, affecting the sex ratio of the community. Fewer boys than girls had been born during the early years of the radar. There were 16 percent fewer grade 9 boys in Skrunda as a whole, and 25 percent fewer in the directly exposed area.65
The effects on farm animals and wildlife were just as obvious. Blood samples were drawn from sixty-seven Latvian Brown cows that grazed on land in front of the radar station. Chromosome damage was found in more than half.66
Six hundred nest-boxes were provided for birds, placed at distances of up to nineteen kilometers from the radar station. Only 14 percent of the nest-boxes were occupied by pied flycatchers, an extremely low number for Latvia. The numbers of great and blue tits that took up residence in the nest-boxes increased steadily with distance from the radars.67
The effects on the area’s forests were equally profound. Stands of Scots pines were sampled at twenty-nine locations at various distances in front of the radars. The trees in all of the stands, without exception, had laid down much thinner growth rings, beginning precisely in 1971 and continuing throughout the period of operation of the radars. The average growth rings were half as wide as before the radars were constructed.68
Pine cones were collected from the tops of fifty- or sixty-year-old trees. All of the seeds from trees that were less exposed to the radars germinated, while only a quarter to a half of the seeds from highly exposed locations did. Abundant secretion of resin from pine needles indicated that the exposed trees were aging prematurely.69
In yet another experiment, newly germinated duckweed plants were exposed to the radars from two kilometers away for just 88 hours and then moved to a distant location. Duckweed is a tiny floating plant that lives on the surfaces of ponds and reproduces by budding. For the first twenty days after exposure, the plants reproduced at nearly double the normal rate. Reproduction then dropped precipitously. Ten days later, many of the plants began to grow abnormally. They became misshapen, sprouted roots that grew upwards, budded from the wrong side, and produced deformed daughter plants. Exposure of additional plants to the radar for just 120 hours reduced their average lifespan from 86 days to 67 days, and lowered their reproductive capacity by 20 percent.70
The Skrunda Radio Location Station was shut down permanently on August 31, 1998.
Konstantynów is a country crossroads near the river Vistula in the center of Poland, about 60 miles northwest of Warsaw. Extensive pine forests grow to the west. For seventeen years, from 1974 until 1991, it was also the Voice of Poland, for next to the village stood the long wave radio antenna that broadcast Polish language programming throughout Europe. More than 2,100 feet high, it was the tallest manmade structure in the world, and at two million watts, Warsaw Central Radio was also one of the most powerful radio stations in the world. And for seventeen years, the people in the surrounding villages complained that their health was being destroyed.
In 1991, a government study proved them right. The research, overseen by Dr. Wiesław Flakiewicz, who worked in the Radiation Protection Department in the County of Płock, was simple and inexpensive: it consisted of analyzing blood samples drawn from 99 randomly selected residents of two communities, Sanniki and Gabin, each six kilometers from the tower. The first results indicated that something was indeed affecting the residents’ health. For 68 percent of the people in Gabin had abnormally high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Forty-two percent had hypoglycemia, 30 percent had elevated thyroid hormones, 32 percent had high cholesterol, and 32 percent had abnormally high red blood cell counts. Fifty-eight percent had disturbed electrolytes: they tended to have high calcium, sodium, and potassium levels, and low phosphorus. The pattern in Sanniki was similar, except that thyroid and electrolyte disturbances were even more common and serious, and 41 percent of the population also had elevated platelets, indicating overstimulation of their bone marrow.
Then, on August 8, 1991, a serendipitous event took place: the tallest structure in the world fell down. Flakiewicz took full advantage of the opportunity, and in October he recalled the 50 subjects from Gabin into his laboratory to draw a fresh set of blood samples. The new results were startling. A handful of the youngest subjects, who had been the most severely affected by the radiation, still had abnormal glucose levels and red blood cell counts, and the older subjects still had elevated cholesterol. But all of the electrolyte levels, all of the thyroid levels, and all of the cortisol levels, without exception, were now completely normal.
Experiments on plants exposed to the radio station produced equally stunning results. Dr. Antonina Cebulska-Wasilewska, who worked at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kraków, directed this phase of the research. As subjects she selected spiderwort (Tradescantia) plants, with which she was very familiar in her work on nuclear radiation, and which are used as standard assays for ionizing radiation throughout the world. When exposed to X-rays or gamma rays, the stamen hairs of spiderwort flowers mutate, changing from blue to pink. The more ionizing radiation they are exposed to, the greater the number of pink hair cells.
Here, too, there was a before and after study. Potted plants containing at least 30 spiderwort blossoms were placed at each of four locations in Gabin and Sanniki from June 10-20, 1991, while the radio station was still operating, and then taken to a laboratory in Kraków where, between 11 and 25 days after the exposure, their stamen hairs were examined. The flowers that had been at three of the sites had approximately double the number of pink mutations as flowers that had never been near the radio station. Flowers that had been at the fourth site, which was inside a schoolroom near a telephone stand—whose wires acted as an antenna that amplified the radiation—had nearly nine times as many pink mutations. The plants near the telephone stand also had 100 times as many lethal mutations, and only three of their thirty blossoms ever opened.
After the tower fell down the experiment was repeated, with a ten-day exposure period from August 14-23, 1991. This time there was no increase in mutations at the first three locations. The plants near the telephone stand still had double the normal number of pink mutations, but all of their blossoms opened this time. Dr. Cebulska-Wasilewska, who usually used these plants to assess levels of ionizing radiation, stated that exposing the plants to the radio tower for only eleven days, at a distance of six kilometers, had been the equivalent to exposing them to a 3 centigray dose of X-rays or gamma rays. That is roughly 1,000 times more radiation than a chest X-ray, 10 times more than a CT-scan, and about as much radiation as the average survivor of the atomic bomb received in Hiroshima.
In January 1995, the Polish parliament passed, and the President signed, an act authorizing the reconstruction of the long wave radio station at Konstantynów. Fierce local protests followed. The Society for the Protection of People Living near the Highest Mast in Europe formed in the village of Topólno. Fifteen people participated in a month-long hunger strike.
The tower was not rebuilt.
Schwarzenburg is a small rural community on the river Sense, surrounded by lush green fields, nestled in the northern foothills of the Swiss Alps. In 1939, a short wave radio station was constructed about three kilometers east of town in order to broadcast Radio Swiss International to Swiss emigrants living abroad. The station broadcast to every continent, shifting the direction of its transmissions every two to four hours, so as to reach a different part of the world.
At first the town got along well with its neighbor. But after a new antenna was added in 1954, boosting the station’s power to 450,000 watts, the surrounding residents began to complain that it was damaging the health of themselves, their farm animals, and the surrounding forests. Almost four decades later the Federal Department of Transport and Energy finally launched an investigation. The Swiss Federal Office of Environment, Forests and Landscape was involved, and Professor Theodor Abelin, Head of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Berne, was placed in charge.
In the summer of 1992 an extensive health survey was conducted. Measurements of the magnetic field strength were taken at numerous outdoor locations, and in the bedrooms of participants. Residents were given diaries in which to record symptoms and complaints at one-hour intervals during four ten-day periods, spread out over two summers. Blood pressure was monitored, school records examined, and urine samples collected to measure melatonin levels. Saliva, collected from area cows, measured their melatonin levels as well. During the second summer, at an unannounced time, the transmitter was turned off for three days.
The results confirmed the long-standing complaints. Of the people who lived within 900 meters (about half a mile) from the antennas, one-third complained of difficulty sleeping—three and a half times as frequently as people who lived four kilometers away. They complained of limb and joint pains four times as often, and of weakness and tiredness three and a half times as often. They woke up at night three times as often. They were more constipated, had more trouble concentrating, and had more stomach pains, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headaches, vertigo, and “cough and sputum.” One-third had abnormal blood pressure. Forty-two percent spent their leisure time away from home, compared with only six percent of the people who lived four kilometers away.
The second year’s diaries showed the dramatic effect of turning off the transmitter. Even the people who lived four kilometers away woke up only about half as often during the nights when the transmitter was off. Melatonin levels did not change significantly in humans, but cows’ melatonin levels rose two- to seven-fold during the three days the transmitter was off, and were suppressed again when the transmitter was turned back on.
School records from two schools showed that between 1954 and 1993, children at the school nearer to the antennas had a significantly smaller chance of being promoted from primary to secondary school.
It was left to the citizens of Schwarzenburg, however, to document the damage to their forests. Ulrich Hertel published photographs of the stumps of trees that died, showing decades of compression of their growth rings, but only on the side of the trees facing the antennas, as though, he wrote, the trees had tried “to get out of the path of a threat to their lives.” His 1991 article in Raum & Zeit, published two months before Volkrodt’s article, is strewn with photographs of forests in the Schwarzenburg area that were sick and dying.
On May 29, 1996, Phillippe Roch, the Director of the Federal Bureau for Environment, Forests, and Landscapes, stated that “a connection between the established sleep disturbances and the transmitting operation is proven.” The Federal Bureau of Health agreed. On March 28, 1998, the short wave transmitter station of Schwarzenburg was shut down forever.
Hans-Ulrich Jakob, a long time resident, wrote: “The most surprising thing for me is the fact that the people have got back their joyfulness, their frankness, which I never saw before. And I have been living here for more than 40 years, in this region. The depressive, sometimes also aggressive behavior of many of my acquaintances has completely disappeared. A farmer, about 50 years old, told me that two weeks after the transmitter was switched off, he slept through the whole night for the first time in his life.”
And Jakob had a story to tell about the trees. “It is wonderful to see,” he remarked, “how quickly the forests, which were treated with radiation, are recovering now. The rate of growth, I think, is twice the growth of years past. The young trees are also growing up straight as a dart and don’t try to flee in a direction away from the transmitter.”
Dr. Abelin’s team took advantage of the planned termination to conduct a before-and-after sleep study on 54 of their original subjects. It lasted from March 23 until April 3, 1998. Not only did sleep quality improve after the shutdown on March 28, but melatonin levels rebounded just as they had in the cows. During the week after the shutdown, melatonin levels in the people who lived closest to the antennas rose between one-and-a-half- and six-fold.
The recovery of Europe’s forests at the end of the Cold War lasted only a decade. In 2002, almost one-quarter of the trees visited by a United Nations team again showed signs of damage, with one out of every five trees in Europe suffering from defoliation.71 Acid rain, meanwhile, had been transferred along with heavy industry to China and India. Many foresters revised their textbooks to attribute forest dieback to global warming instead. But that is not the real culprit either.
Cedar trees, some of which are three thousand years old, having outlasted the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, and innumerable droughts and floods, are disappearing from the face of the earth.
The venerable Cedars of Lebanon, whose twelve remaining stands cover about 5,000 acres, are in visible decay.
The cedars of Algeria’s Atlas Mountains began to decline about 1982, and the cedars of Morocco have been dying rapidly since 2000.72
More than 600,000 acres of yellow cedars in remote areas of southeast Alaska and British Columbia are vanishing. Approximately 70 percent of the mature trees are dead, with some areas now completely devoid of cedars. Foresters are left thunderstruck by massive mortality on wet soils where yellow cedars have always thrived, and where no disease organisms can be isolated, on which to pin the blame.
In 1990, Paul Hennon, a United States Forest Service scientist stationed in Juneau, made a startling discovery: old aerial photographs showed that some of the stands of yellow cedars that are damaged today were already damaged in 1927, 1948, 1965, and 1976. And to his further amazement, the areas of decline in 1990 were only slightly larger than they had been in 1927. He then scoured the old forestry literature. Reports from expeditions throughout the 1800s had all included observations of yellow cedar near Sitka and elsewhere in southeast Alaska, and none had mentioned dying trees. Charles Sheldon, the first to report dead yellow cedar anywhere in Alaska, had seen them on Admiralty Island near Pybus Bay in the Sitka region in 1909, stating that “vast areas are rolling swamp, with yellow cedar, mostly dead.” Harold E. Anderson, in 1916, also saw dying cedars near Sitka.73
Hennon concluded that no human factor could have caused cedar decline in the Alaska panhandle so long ago, but he was wrong. NPB Sitka, a 20-kilowatt long wave radio station operated by the Navy, was installed west of Pybus Bay in 1907. Army radio stations were installed at Petersburg and Wrangell in 1908. Private radio stations were also operating. A 1913 list of the radio stations of the United States includes five operated by the Marconi Company in southeast Alaska, including one at Kake, on Kupreanof Island, directly across Frederick Sound from Pybus Bay.74
That trees are dying without obvious cause throughout the Amazon rainforest was first noticed in 2005 and is being blamed, again, on global warming, which caused an unusual drought in that year.75 Researchers connected with the worldwide RAINFOR network went back to the plots of forest, scattered through Brazil and seven neighboring countries, that they had been monitoring every three to five years, in some cases since the 1970s. To their surprise the intensity of the drought in individual locations was only weakly related to the health of the forest. Some areas had tree mortality but no drought, and some had drought but no mortality. Pockets of high mortality were surrounded by trees with little or no decline in growth. But overall, only half the plots gained biomass during 2005, an unprecedented circumstance. The Amazon, they feared, was changing from a net carbon sink to a net carbon source, with grave implications for our atmosphere. They blamed the change on global warming since they could find no other reason for a shift. But like Hennon and his team in Alaska, they were wrong.
On July 27, 2002, the environment everywhere in the Amazon was suddenly, drastically altered. For on that day, an American-financed, Raytheon-built, 1.4-billion-dollar system of radars and sensors called SIVAM (System for Vigilance of the Amazon) began its monitoring activities in a two-million-square-mile area of remote and inaccessible wilderness. The primary purpose of the new system was to deprive drug traffickers and guerrillas of the protection that the trackless jungle had always offered. But this required pretending that blasting the rainforest with radiation at levels that were unprecedented in the history of the world was of no consequence to the forest’s precious inhabitants, human or otherwise. Since 2002, the system’s 25 enormously powerful surveillance radars, 10 Doppler weather radars, 200 floating water-monitoring stations, 900 radio-equipped “listening posts,” 32 radio stations, 8 airborne state-of-the-art surveillance jets equipped with fog penetrating radar, and 99 “attack/trainer” support aircraft have enabled Brazil to track images as small as human beings anywhere. The system is so pervasive that Brazilian officials boast that they can hear a twig snap anywhere in the Amazon.76 But it comes at the expense of the greatest diversity of animals and plants on earth, of the people who depend on them, and of our atmosphere.
In a small backyard laboratory in the foothills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Katie Haggerty performed the simplest, most elegant experiment of all: she hung aluminum window screening around nine potted trembling aspen seedlings to keep out the radio waves, and watched them grow. The screens didn’t keep out much light, but to make sure the experiment was well controlled, she bought twenty-seven aspen trees and grew them side by side. Nine grew without any enclosure, nine were surrounded by aluminum screening, and nine were surrounded by fiberglass screening, which kept out just as much light but let in all the radio waves. She began the experiment on June 6, 2007. After just two months, the new shoots of the radio-shielded aspens were 74 percent longer, and their leaves 60 percent larger in area, than those of either the mock-shielded or the unshielded aspens.
On October 5-6, she evaluated the conditions of the three groups of plants. The mock-shielded and unshielded plants looked just like what most aspens in Colorado now look like every fall, their leaves and leaf veins yellow to green, their leafstalks light red to pink, and all their leaves covered to some degree with gray and brown areas of decay.
The shielded aspens looked like what aspens used to look like not long ago. Their leaves were much bigger, largely free of spots and decay, and displayed a wide palette of brilliant fall colors: bright orange, yellow, green, dark red, and black. Their leaf veins were dark to bright red, and their leafstalks were bright red as well.
The suddenness and simultaneity of aspen decline throughout Colorado, which began precisely in 2004, has been a source of wonder and despair to all who love and miss the vivid fall colors of these striking trees. In just three years, from 2003 to 2006, the area of aspen damage increased from twelve thousand acres to one hundred and forty thousand acres. Aspen mortality in the national forests rose three- to sevenfold, with some stands losing 60 percent of these trees.77 There is a reason.
The State of Colorado operates a sophisticated public safety communications network, called the Digital Trunked Radio System, consisting of 203 tall radio towers whose transmissions cover every square inch of the state. They are heavily used by police, firefighters, park rangers, emergency medical service providers, schools, hospitals, and a wide variety of other municipal, state, federal, and tribal officials. Between 1998 and 2000 the pilot phase of the system, covering the Denver metropolitan area, was built and tested. In 2001 and 2002, radio towers were built throughout northeastern and southeastern Colorado and the eastern plains. And in 2003, 2004, and 2005, the system invaded the western, mountainous part of the state: aspen territory.
“At times,” says Alfonso Balmori, “I compare what is occurring to a collective ritual of suicide in slow motion.” But he does not think it can continue indefinitely. “I don’t know when,” he continues, “but there will come a day of realization, when society will awaken to the serious problem of electromagnetic contamination and its dangerous effects on sparrows, frogs, bees, trees, and all other living beings, including ourselves.”[I understand his concern, this is insanity and living in denial,we need to change our ways fast DC]
In the Land of the Blind
WHAT IF, ON ANOTHER PLANET, in a distant universe, the sun was dark. God never said, “Let there be light,” and there was none. But people invented it anyway and lit up the world, lit it with light so bright that it burned all it touched. What if you were the only person who could see it. What if there were a thousand, a million, ten million others? How many aware people would it take to make the destruction stop?
How many will it take before people no longer feel too alone to say, “Your cell phone is killing me,” instead of “I’m electrically sensitive”?
A tremendous number of people get headaches from their cell phone. Almost one-quarter of Norwegians who would now be considered moderate cell phone users (more than one hour per day) admitted it to the scientists who asked the question in 1996.1 Almost two-thirds of Ukrainian university students who were heavy cell phone users (more than three hours per day) admitted it to the scientists who asked the question in 2010.2 Perhaps there are some who really don’t get headaches, but few people are asking the question, and to publicly admit to the true answer is not socially acceptable.
Gro Harlem Brundtland got headaches from cell phones. And since she was the Director General of the World Health Organization and the former Prime Minister of Norway, she did not feel the need to apologize for it, and simply ordered that no one was to enter her office in Geneva carrying a cell phone on their person. She even gave an interview about it in 2002 to a Norwegian national newspaper.3 The following year she was no longer Director-General of the World Health Organization. No other public officials have repeated her mistake.
Even for those who really don’t get headaches, their cell phones affect their sleep and their memory. Folk singer Pete Seeger wrote to me twenty years ago. “At age 81,” he said, “it’s normal for me to start losing my memory. But everybody I tell this to, says, ‘Well, I seem to be losing my memory, too.’”
Those of us whose injuries are so severe, so devastating that we can no longer ignore them, and who are lucky enough to figure out what has happened to us and why, have here and there formed tiny, isolated groups, and for lack of a more acceptable term we call our injury “electrical sensitivity,” or worse, “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” (EHS), a travesty of a name for a disease that affects the whole world and everyone in it, a name as absurd as “cyanide sensitivity” would be if anyone were foolish enough to apply such a name to those poisoned. The problem is that we are all being electrocuted to a greater or lesser extent, and because society has been in denial about that for more than two hundred years, we invent terms that hide the truth instead of speaking in plain language and admitting what is happening.
After pulsed microwave radiation came to my hometown for the first time, all over the city at once, on November 14, 1996, I was so sure it had killed masses of people that I telephoned epidemiologist John Goldsmith to ask for advice on how to prove it. Formerly with the California Department of Health Services, Goldsmith was then at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. He directed me to the weekly mortality statistics published online by the Centers for Disease Control for 122 cities, and advised me to find out exactly when, for each city, digital cell phone service had begun. Here, for nine large cities in different parts of the country, whose digital service began at different times, are the results:
I had been sure, because the sudden irradiation of my city had almost killed me, and because I knew people who had died from it.
On November 14, I had traveled to Killington, Vermont to attend “Unplugged: Health and Policy Implications of the Wireless Revolution,” a conference sponsored by the Vermont Law School. When I returned home on November 16, I became dizzy. I assumed one of my neighbors had sprayed something toxic; perhaps the exterminator had been in the building. This would pass, I thought. But within a few days I became nauseated, and I had uncontrollable tremors. I had the first asthma attack of my life. My eyeballs felt like they were bulging out, my throat swelled, my lips felt dry, fat, and puffy, I felt pressure in my chest, and the bottoms of my feet hurt. I became so weak I couldn’t lift a book. My skin became so sensitive I couldn’t bear to be touched. My head was roaring like a freight train. After November 20 I did not sleep, and could not eat. During the night of November 22, my larynx went into spasm and I couldn’t draw a breath in or out. In the morning I grabbed my sleeping bag, got on the Long Island Railroad, and left town.
My relief was unbelievable. I learned that on November 14, while I was in Vermont, Omnipoint Communications, New York’s first digital cell phone company, had begun selling its service to the public. Thousands of rooftop antennas at six hundred locations were operational: New Yorkers were now living inside a computer.
I compared notes with a few friends. Together we compiled a list of symptoms and placed the following classified ad in a local newspaper: “If you have been ill since 11/15/96 with any of the following: eye pain, insomnia, dry lips, swollen throat, pressure or pain in the chest, headaches, dizziness, nausea, shakiness, other aches and pains, or flu that won’t go away, you may be a victim of a new microwave system blanketing the city. We need to hear from you.”
And we did hear from them, by the hundreds—men and women, whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, office workers, computer operators, stockbrokers, teachers, doctors, nurses, and lawyers, all of whom had woken up suddenly sometime between mid-November and Thanksgiving, their hearts racing, their heads pounding, thinking they were having a heart attack, a stroke, or a nervous breakdown—now relieved to find out they were not alone. The very first person to answer the ad was a forty-one-year-old airline employee who lived in the Bronx. Joe Sanchez’s head suddenly began to hurt on about November 15, so badly that he was afraid he was having a stroke. Five and a half months later, on May 8, 1997, he died—of a hemorrhagic stroke.
For the next two years, without letup, Janet Ostrowski, a nurse who worked in a family practice office in Manhattan, and then on Long Island, saw a constant stream of patients with “viral syndrome,” typically with excruciating headache, ear pain, swollen gland deep in the neck, nasal congestion they could not get rid of, facial pain, sore throat, fatigue, and sometimes profound dehydration. “No flu lasts an entire year,” Ostrowski told us. She also noticed that the majority of her patients were suddenly not responding to medication. “I have done triage in various emergency rooms throughout the Tri-State area over the course of twenty-five years of nursing,” she said. “Whatever used to be stabilized on routine medication, be it hypertension, diabetes, whatever, now seems to become unstabilized easily and not responding to current meds.” She also saw a tremendous increase in the number of people complaining of stress and anxiety, many of whom, in their thirties and forties, were found, on routine EKG, to have cardiac changes. 251s
Officially, this North American “influenza” epidemic began in October 1996 and lasted through May 1997.
The organization I started in 1996, called the Cellular Phone Task Force, is struggling to serve a growing population of injured. And the title of the magazine I published for five years, No Place To Hide, has come true. Say To Countryside Goodbye, When Even Healthy People Die,4 wrote Olle Johansson, the guru of electrical sensitivity in Sweden and one of the world’s foremost authorities on electrical illness and injury. The old wisdom, that if you wish to escape civilization you can do so if you go far enough away, is no longer true, because secondhand radiation no longer comes only from cell phones, WiFi, and other personal devices. The invisible tentacles of civilization, in the form of cell towers, radar installations, and two-way satellite dishes, have made radiation ubiquitous, impossible to escape no matter how far away you go and how much land you buy. And even if you find one of the last hidden sanctuaries, it can be destroyed in an instant, invisibly and without warning. There is no protection. Quite the opposite—laws have been passed preventing citizens from protecting themselves, or elected officials from doing anything about the radiation. But no one is immune.
“Recently I celebrated my forty-first birthday,” said Dafna Tachover in 2013, “and I am not sure that the word celebration is appropriate.” An attractive young attorney with an MBA, Tachover was licensed in New York and Israel, and just a few years previously had been working for an investment company in Manhattan as advisor to the chairman. She had been married to a doctor who was also a research scientist at Princeton University. They had decided to have a baby, and she had decided to open up a private law practice. All of life, seemingly, was hers for the taking.
When I interviewed her in 2013, she was divorced, unemployed, still childless, and struggling just to survive in a remote farmhouse in upstate New York. “My life is pretty much impossible,” she said, “as I am a prisoner in my own house. I cannot go anywhere, I cannot even walk on the street and drive into town. I cannot work and be in the presence of other people. I cannot fly, travel, go to a restaurant, or sleep in a hotel. I cannot access a doctor, a hospital, or even go to court to enforce my rights which are being crushed. When I needed to move, I could not look for a house by myself, as driving on roads saturated with antennas and cars with wireless systems has become impossible. My father had to come from Israel to help me and after two months of searching, and five hundred houses, I found just one house which I could tolerate. The closest neighbor is 300 yards away (such distance is required in order to not be affected by a neighbor’s WiFi, cordless phones, and other gadgets), there is only spotty cell phone reception, and radiation from only one radio station. I live in an isolated cabin in the woods and my only ‘outing’ to civilization is a once-a-month trip to buy groceries. Many times I am not well enough to even do that and I depend on friends to buy me food. As I cannot work and my money is almost exhausted, I don’t know how I will survive financially, and with the spread of ‘smart’ meters, soon there will not be even one house I would be able to live in. It is very frustrating knowing that without this radiation I can live a normal and full life, but because of it I am forced into an absurd existence.”
Tachover was a confirmed cell phone user who had no landline and spent hours on her cell phone and in front of her wireless computer. “My laptop was my best friend,” she says. “I was one of the first to purchase a cellular wireless Internet connection to my laptop, to ensure that I had Internet access wherever I went.” Finally, like so many other people, she was injured—injured by a new laptop computer she had bought for the law practice she was starting. “Every time I used the computer I felt pressure in my chest, the rapid pounding of my heart, difficulty breathing, dizziness, pressure in my head, my face would become red and hot, and I was nauseous. I had weird cognitive problems—I could not find words and when my husband spoke to me, five minutes later I would not remember that he did. I suddenly was unable to touch my cell phone and if I put it near my head it felt as if someone were drilling into my brain.”
The first action she took was to go home to Israel to recover her health. “It was an unfortunate choice,” she said. “On my first day there my body collapsed. While I was driving I felt excruciating pain. I looked up and saw ‘white stripes’ on the roof of the mall, and when I asked my mother what they were, she told me that they were cell phone antennas. Until that moment I did not know I felt antennas. I had tears in my eyes and all I could say was ‘For God’s sake, there are children growing up here!’ From that moment on my condition quickly went downhill and my life became a nightmare. I could not sleep any more and the pain was unbearable.”
Back in New York, Tachover spent months living in her car. “I could not be in my apartment, could not find a house, and I spent my days desperately trying to find a place without radiation in which to park my car. At nights I parked my car in parking lots and would cover the windows with dark cloths and sheets so people would not see me.”
Unfortunately Tachover’s experience is very common, and becoming more so. Although she is now focusing her efforts as a lawyer to try to win “basic human and civil rights” for those who are called electrically sensitive, Tachover knows that the real problem is much bigger. “Humans are electric beings,” she says, “and there is no mechanism in the human body that protects it from the radiation. Therefore, to claim that this radiation is not affecting us is ignorant and absurd. EHS is not a disease, it is an environmentally induced condition to which no one is immune. I want to believe that the day in which the extent of this disaster will be exposed is not far. Ignoring the facts and reality do not change them and ignoring a problem is guaranteed to worsen its scale.”
Olle Johansson, who for decades was on the faculty of the world- famous Karolinska Institute— the institute that awards the Nobel Prize in Medicine every year—first became interested in the effects of microwave radiation in 1977 when he heard a presentation about leakage of the blood brain barrier at a conference in Finland. He began to study the problem of skin rashes in computer operators in the early 1980s after hearing a radio program by Kajsa Vedin. Vedin, who later wrote “In the Shadow of a Microchip,” an analysis of the occupational risks of computer work, asked for expertise in neurology. “As a neuroscientist,” says Johansson, “I thought I was close enough, and I strongly believed that the issues she wanted to highlight, using the conventional repertoire of scientific ‘tools,’ ought to be easily investigated. I did not realize at all that there were other forces not wanting to see such studies initiated, but very soon I understood that these very clear-cut and simple and obvious investigations proposed by Kajsa Vedin would be very, very hard to start.
“For me,” he recalls, “it was immediately clear that persons claiming skin reactions after having been exposed to computer screens very well could be reacting in a highly specific way and with a completely correct avoidance reaction, especially if the provocative agent was radiation and/or chemical emissions—just as you would do if you had been exposed to, for example, sun rays, Xrays, radioactivity, or chemical odors. Very soon, however, from different clinical colleagues a large number of other ‘explanations’ became fashionable—that the persons claiming screen dermatitis were only imagining this, or they were suffering from post-menopausal psychological aberrations, or they were old, or had a short school education, or were the victims of classical Pavlovian conditioning. Strangely enough, most of the, often self-made, ‘experts’ who proposed these explanations had themselves never met anyone with screen dermatitis and had never done any investigations of their proposed explanatory models.”
When he first contacted Vedin, Johansson did not personally know anyone with screen dermatitis either, but he quickly learned that they were hidden all around him in plain view. He learned that skin rashes were only the most visible manifestations of a devastating impairment, and that exposure not only to computer screens but other sources of radiation, and even ordinary electricity, could seriously damage the heart, nervous system, and other systems of the body. “After all these years,” he says, “today I now regularly communicate with many thousands of such people, spread all around the world, and coming from all aspects of life. Nothing protects you from this functional impairment, not political stance, not your income, not sex, skin color, age, where you live or what you do for a living. Anyone can be affected. These people suffer radiation damage from gadgets that have been very rapidly introduced without ever having been formally tested for potential toxic environmental exposures or any other types of health hazards.”
Johansson has not only seen his research funding disappear, and has lost his position at the Karolinska Institute, but he has had death threats, and on one occasion an attempt on his life. He went riding on his motorcycle with his wife one day, and while still going slow, he suddenly lost control of the vehicle. Twenty-seven spokes of the rear wheel had been cleanly sawed through, so professionally that it had been impossible to see. I asked Johansson what keeps him going. He began by telling me about the lives of the people who are called electrically sensitive.
“The lives of EHS persons most often are a living hell,” he said. “I very soon realized that the very famous Swedish social security net did not catch them in its arms, but allowed them to fall and crash. That disturbed me a lot. The EHS had become a model of the democratic world, or rather a model of how democracies fail to protect their citizens. It was, and is, not hard to imagine yourself in such a situation. Today the EHS person, but what about tomorrow? Who will then be an outsider? Myself even? You? Who? The EHS became a kind of medical outcast, facing difficulties not shared by the rest of society. A very scary panorama. Anyone, as a fellow human being, would have been equally affected by what I witnessed over and over again.
“At the same time, another side also grew on me. The EHS persons, most of them, actually are very strong. They have to endure harassments of various sorts from the society, from physicians, scientists, experts, politicians, civil servants, their kin, and so forth, and all this makes their mental ‘skin’ very tough. I admire them a lot! I know I never would be able to constantly take such immense beatings.
“What keeps me going? One must stick to the task; to give in and move to another field would leave these persons very much without hope. As a government scientist I am supposed to work for people in need, not for my own personal career. When I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, in Sweden, my family were very poor. I learned then the value of a hand stretched out, willing to support and help you. Such a lesson you never forget.”
Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe is an engaging physician, born in England, who has dual British and American citizenship, and who has also dedicated her life to this problem, having experienced it firsthand. After graduating from medical school in 1998, she worked at hospitals all over England, becoming an instructor in trauma medicine. In 2007, she moved to the United States with her husband, who was an F-16 pilot with the British Royal Air Force, working as an exchange officer with NATO. She became injured while she was pregnant. Like so many other young professionals, Mallery-Blythe had become dependent on technology. In fact, she was one of the earliest cell phone users, her father having bought her one when she was ten years old, in the mid-1980s. She had always noticed that she got a headache if she used her cell phone too long, but like most people, she had not paid too much attention.
Now, however, the pain became intense after every phone call, and the right side of her face would become bright red as if she were sunburned. She had also just acquired her first WiFi-enabled laptop computer, which she used a great deal for medical research, and which she rested on her legs —but not for long, because every time she did that she would get severe, deep aching pain inside her legs. “It felt like my legs were cooking from the inside,” she recalls. Soon she could no longer use her computer at all, even at a distance. “As a doctor,” she says, “I knew that when there’s pain there’s something wrong.” Eventually she had to give up using both the computer and the telephone. By this time she was not sleeping, and had acquired a heart arrhythmia and severe tremors, in addition to the dizziness and headaches that were tormenting her. But everything she read on the Internet reassured her that she was not going to get cancer from her cell phone, and she could not put her experience into any medical context that she had ever been taught. She finally heard the term “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” after her daughter was born, but still did not grasp the seriousness of it. “How could there be a condition that was so profound that I’d never heard of it?” she wondered. It was not until she underwent an MRI to rule out a brain tumor that she finally realized that her life had been permanently, utterly altered. For when the high frequency pulse of the MRI was turned on she saw “a million grains of golden sand exploding outwards,” and had “a feeling of impending doom.” The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when she and her husband visited an isolated campground on the edge of Death Valley where there was no WiFi and no cell phone reception. “The relief was unbelievable,” she says. For the first time in a long time, she felt completely well and completely normal.
But, like Tachover, and like so many other people throughout the world, life was now impossible. Mallery-Blythe and her husband moved out of their home and began camping in tents or sleeping in the back of their car. She describes it as “living like war refugees.” She could not enter a market or a gas station without becoming crippled. “You can’t do the basic things you need to live. You almost feel like you’re going to wake up, like it’s some kind of bizarre dream.” Almost worse than the physical hardship was the fact that they had to hide the truth of what was happening from everybody they knew and met. They lived like that for more than half a year, until they found a log cabin by a lake in South Carolina, where they were forced to live without electricity so that she could recover her health. She was living there when I first met her. Eventually she moved back to England, but before she did she had met many other people who were injured by electricity, especially by wireless technology, and had attended a medical conference on the subject in Dallas. And she decided that she had no choice but to devote the rest of her life to the needs of this population, including the most urgent need for a sanctuary where people can save their lives, recover their health, and become productive individuals again. “The first and foremost need,” says Mallery-Blythe, “is a safe refuge for those who need urgent care, with supportive medical staff. What makes me sad is to see all the people who can’t escape and get to a pure environment, because if you can’t get to a pure environment, it will destroy you.” Considering that an estimated five percent of the population know they have been injured,5 and that perhaps one out of four of them have had to leave their homes, the need for refugee aid is enormous.
Yury Grigoriev, known affectionately as the grandfather of EMF research in Russia, has been working on radiation since 1949. After graduating from the Military Medical Academy he was assigned to research the biological effects of atomic weapons at the Institute of Biophysics at the U.S.S.R. Ministry of Health. Since 1977 he has been the head of research on non-ionizing radiation (i.e., radio waves) at the same institute, since renamed the A. I. Burnazyan Federal Medical and Biophysical Center. He is also the Honorary Chairman of the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. His most recent book, Mobile Communication and Children’s Health, was published in 2014, a year before his ninetieth birthday. His greatest fear is for the children. “For the first time in history,” he says, “human beings are exposing their own brains to an open, unprotected source of microwave radiation. From my viewpoint as a radiobiologist, the brain is a critical organ and children have become the group at greatest peril.”
“In the early period,” says Grigoriev, “the government deliberately underestimated the risk of nuclear radiation, before the accident at Chernobyl. This accident caused fear among the population, and as a result the Russian government agreed to provide full information to the public about the dangers of ionizing radiation. Now we are dealing with similar issues surrounding mobile communications. I believe that the time has arrived, here too, to provide full information to the general public.”
Scarcely a day goes by when I don’t receive terrifying new information that is being tragically ignored.
“Children’s Cell Phone Use May Increase Their Risk of ADHD,” reads a recent news headline about a Korean study. The more calls made by a child, the more time spent on the phone, and the more time playing games on the phone, the greater the risk of ADHD.6
“Computer Screens Can Make You Blind,” screams another headline. This research, out of Japan, found that spending more than four hours per day on a computer for ten years more than doubles one’s risk of glaucoma.7
“Are Mobiles Bad for Your Skin?” Also out of Japan, this research found that mobile phones worsen eczema.8
“Mobiles Can Make You Blind.” This study in China found that microwave radiation at levels emitted by cell phones caused cataracts to form on the eyes of rabbits.9
“Could Microwaves Be Associated with Children’s Asthma?” This investigation was done at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. Women who were exposed to higher magnetic fields while pregnant gave birth to children who were at greater risk for asthma.10
“Talking on the Phone Makes You Deaf.” I have received a number of studies saying this. Teams of researchers at Dicle University in Turkey,11 at a hospital in Chandigarh, India,12 and at the University of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur 13 found that heavy cell phone use is associated with permanent hearing loss. Scientists at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India found that chronic use of a cell phone for ten minutes a day causes hearing loss.14 Research at the University of Southampton, England showed that even a single short exposure to a cell phone causes temporary hearing loss.15
“Cell Phones Now Tied to Alzheimer’s.” A team of Swedish scientists, led by neurosurgeon Leif Salford, proved in the late 1990s that a cell phone disrupts the blood-brain barrier of laboratory rats within two minutes of exposure. When they reduced the power of the phone a thousandfold—the equivalent of a person keeping a phone several feet away from his or her head—the damage increased. In 2003, they proved that a single two-hour exposure causes permanent brain damage. They exposed 12- to 26-week-old rats to an ordinary cell phone, just once for two hours, and waited eight weeks before sacrificing them and examining their brains. Like human teenagers, these rats had brains that were still developing. In those animals that had been exposed once to a cell phone, up to two percent of the neurons in all areas of the brain were shrunken and degenerated.16 Salford called the potential implications “terrifying.” In 2007, they exposed rats chronically, for two hours once a week for 55 weeks, beginning in their “teenage years.” At the end of the experiment, the exposed rats, by now in middle age, had memory deficits.17 To mimic cell phone use by very young children, scientists in Turkey experimented on 8-week-old rats. In their study, published in 2015, they exposed the animals to cell phone-like radiation for one hour a day for a month, and then examined a particular area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory. The exposed rats had 10 percent fewer brain cells in the hippocampus than the unexposed rats. And a large number of brain cells in the exposed rats were abnormal, dark, and shrunken, just like the brain cells in Salford’s rats.18 In another large set of experiments, the Turkish team exposed pregnant female rats to cell phone-like radiation at low power for one hour a day for nine days. The exposed rats’ offspring had degenerative changes in their brains, spinal cords, hearts, kidneys, livers, spleens, thymuses, and testes.19 In yet a further experiment, the same scientists exposed young rats to cell phone-like radiation for one hour a day during their early and mid-adolescence, which for a rat is from 21 to 46 days of age. The exposed rats’ spinal cords were atrophied and had significant losses of myelin, similar to what occurs in multiple sclerosis.20
Since the first edition of this book was written, the mountain of truth confronting every cell phone user has only grown larger. Millennials—the generation born between 1981 and 1996 and the first to grow up using cell phones—are experiencing an unprecedented decline in their health when they reach their late twenties. On April 24, 2019, the American health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield released a report titled “The Health of Millennials.” It showed not only that the health of this generation takes a sharp decline beginning at age 27, but also that the prevalence of many medical conditions had risen precipitously among millennials in just three years.
The prevalence of eight of the top ten conditions among all millennials showed a double-digit increase in 2017 as compared with 2014. Major depression increased 31 percent. Hyperactivity increased 29 percent. Type 2 diabetes increased 22 percent. Hypertension increased 16 percent. Psychoses increased 15 percent. High cholesterol increased 12 percent. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis increased 10 percent. Substance use disorder increased 10 percent.
The decline in millennials’ health from 2014 to 2017 was not due to their being three years older. The report also compared the health of millennials who were 34 to 36 years old in 2017 to the health of Gen Xers who were 34 to 36 years old in 2014. At the same age, millennials in 2017 had 37 percent more hyperactivity, 19 percent more diabetes, 18 percent more major depression, 15 percent more Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, 12 percent more substance use disorder, 10 percent more hypertension, and 7 percent more high cholesterol than Gen Xers had in 2014.
When the researchers looked at all health conditions, they found that 34- to 36-year-olds in 2017 had a 21 percent increase in cardiovascular conditions, a 15 percent increase in endocrine conditions, and an 8 percent increase in other physical conditions compared to 34- to 36-year-olds in 2014.
The only reasonable explanation for the alarming decline in health of the millennial generation is the life-long irradiation of their brains and bodies from their cell phones. Cell phones did not work in most of the United States until 1997, and their use was not prevalent among teenagers until 2000. Millennials are the first generation that began using cell phones in their teenage years or earlier, when their brains and bodies were still developing. People who were 34 to 36 years old in 2017 were 17 to 19 years old in 2000. People who were 34 to 36 years old in 2014 were 20 to 22 years old in 2000. No other environmental factor changed so radically in just three years. Microwave radiation is responsible for the tragic state of the millennial generation’s health compared to the health of every other generation that preceded them.21
The incidence of stroke overall is steady or declining but it is rising in adults younger than 50, and shockingly so in very young adults, who are the heaviest users of cell phones. Studies out of France,22 Sweden,23 and Finland 24 all say the same thing. A Danish study published in 2016 examined the rate of strokes in people aged 15 to 30—a population that never used to have strokes at all. The annual number of strokes in that age group in Denmark rose 50 percent between 1994 and 2012, and the annual number of transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes) in that age group tripled.25 Cell phones were marketed in Europe three years earlier than in America.
Women in their twenties and thirties who keep their cell phones in their bras are getting a distinctive type of breast cancer directly underneath where they keep their phones.26 Rates of total hip replacements have skyrocketed since cell phones began living in hip pockets. Between 2000 and 2010 the number of annual hip replacements in the United States more than doubled, and the rate of hip replacements among people aged 45 to 54 more than tripled.27 Rates of colon cancer among Americans aged 20 to 54, which had been declining for decades, began to rise suddenly in 1997. The rise has been steepest and began earliest in people aged 20 to 29; the rate of colon cancer in young men and women aged 20 to 29 doubled between 1995 and 2013.28 Rates of prostate cancer— the prostate is also in the same part of the body—have been rising worldwide since 1997.29 The number of cases of prostate cancer among Swedish men aged 50 to 59 was stable for decades until 1996 and rose nine-fold between 1997 and 2004.30 The incidence of metastatic prostate cancer among American men under 55 increased 62 percent between 2004 and 2013, and nearly doubled for men aged 55 to 69 during the same period.31 An American study conducted from 2003 to 2013 found that young men had lower sperm counts than their elders for the first time in human history, and that men born between 1990 and 1995 had on average 40 percent lower sperm counts than men born earlier.32
And the kind of brain damage that occurred in a Swedish laboratory in teenaged rats, and in a Turkish laboratory in preteen rats, is now being found in preschool children in America. Not only did the scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center find that children who spent more time per day on a wireless device have poorer language and literacy skills, but MRIs of the children showed structural damage to the white matter of their brains.33
The damage to the natural world is mounting up just as high. In 2017, Mark Broomhall presented his report to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the exodus of so many species of wildlife from the Nightcap National Park World Heritage area surrounding Mount Nardi in Australia. Broomhall has lived on Mount Nardi for more than forty years. After antennas for 3G cell phones were installed on the Mount Nardi communications tower in 2002, he saw an immediate decline in insect populations. In 2009, when “enhanced 3G” was added to the tower, along with channels for 150 television stations, 27 bird species left the mountain. In early 2013, when 4G was installed on Mount Nardi, a further 49 bird species left, all bat species became scarce, four common species of cicada almost disappeared, frog populations were drastically reduced, and the massive and diverse populations of moths, butterflies, and ants became uncommon to rare.34
At about the same time that Broomhall presented his report, people all over the world woke up to the fact that their cars’ windshields were not being splattered with tiny life, and that insects of all kinds were disappearing from the earth. In 2017, scientists reported a 75 to 80 percent decline in total flying insects in 63 nature protection areas in Germany.35 In 2018, another group of scientists reported a 97 to 98 percent decline in total insects caught in sticky traps in a Puerto Rican rainforest.36 In 2019, scientists from Australia, Vietnam, and China reviewed 73 reports of insect declines from across the globe, and concluded that 40 percent of all insect species on earth are threatened with extinction.37
We are living in a world where information does not increase knowledge, nor open eyes. The cultural barriers are too great. Society has been in denial for too long. And yet it is impossible to continue on the present path any longer. Decisions are being made to intensify the global microwave rain, before 2020, from a steady drizzle to a downpour.
Instead of cell towers every few miles, there are going to be cell towers every few houses. This is already being implemented throughout China and South Korea and is spreading like wildfire to every city in the world. Although the new antennas are small—little boxes on top of telephone poles —they expose the population to tens or hundreds of times more radiation than the tall structures they are replacing.
Dense rows of similar antennas are being sown like so much rice along the sides of highways and beneath the pavement, and the electric fields that sprout from their seeds to cover the adjacent countrysides will guide cars and trucks that are outfitted with their own antennas and driven by robots instead of human beings.
These are the structures that are replacing men and women with machines within cities and along highways. It is called “5G” because it is the 5th generation of wireless technology. 5G will enable the creation of the “Internet of Things”: not only cars, trucks, and home appliances, but virtually everything we buy is being outfitted with antennas and microchips in order to be connected to the wireless cloud that will take over the business of the world from human beings. Cars will drive themselves, milk cartons will instruct refrigerators to order milk, and your baby’s diaper will tell your phone when it needs to be changed. By some estimates, as many as one trillion antennas will soon be talking to one another, outnumbering people on the earth by a hundred to one.
Not just people, but all of nature is being replaced by electrical pulsations, and not just in cities and suburbs. Radio waves are replacing eagles and hawks in national parks and wilderness areas, fish and whales in the earth’s oceans, and penguins and auks in Antarctica and Greenland, where ice is melting into electric fog.
Four billion people, you see, still have little or no access to the Internet. And the remedy for that deficiency is now at hand, via balloons, drones, or satellites from space. Humankind is now willing and able to finally fulfill the original promise of the telegraph, put into words for the first time a century and a half ago. Space and time are poised to be thoroughly annihilated. That promise, however, is the ultimate Trojan horse, containing within it an unsuspected threat: the annihilation or severe impoverishment of life itself. Unsuspected, that is, by those who cannot yet see what is happening. Those of us with EHS who remember the beginning of satellite phone service foresee catastrophe.
In 1998, the launch of the 66-satellite constellation called Iridium brought cell phone service for the first time to the vast unserved regions of the earth, previously owned by penguins and whales. As we saw in the last chapter, however, it also unleashed a new kind of rain that emptied the skies of birds for a couple of weeks. The loss of thousands of racing pigeons during the two weeks following September 23, 1998, made headline news. The fact that wild birds were also not flying received only brief mention. The human toll was not mentioned at all.
On about October 1, 1998, I contacted fifty-seven electrically sensitive people in six countries. I also surveyed two support groups, and interviewed two nurses and one physician who served this population. My survey 38 found that eighty-six percent of the electrically sensitive people interviewed, and a majority of patients and support group members, had become ill on Wednesday, September 23 exactly, with typical symptoms of electrical illness such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, nosebleeds, heart palpitations, asthma attacks, ringing in the ears, and so forth. One person said it felt like a knife went through the back of her head early Wednesday morning. Another had stabbing pains in his chest. A number of people, including me, were so sick we weren’t sure we were going to live. Follow-ups revealed that some of these people were acutely ill for up to three weeks. I suddenly lost my sense of smell on September 23, 1998, and it still today has not returned to normal.
Mortality statistics obtained from the Centers for Disease Control reveal the following numbers for 1998:
Sept. 6 11,351
Sept. 13 11,601
Sept. 20 11,223
Sept. 27 11,939
Oct. 4 11,921
Oct. 11 11,497
Oct. 18 11,387
As recommended by the CDC, the above numbers are based on an average three-week delay between the time of death and the filing of a death certificate, and have been adjusted to account for missing data for some cities. A four to five percent rise in the national death rate occurred during those two weeks in which electrically sensitive people were the sickest and birds were not flying in the sky.
The commencement of service by the second satellite cell phone company, Globalstar, was again accompanied by widespread sudden illness. Globalstar announced the beginning of full commercial service in the United States and Canada from its 48 satellites on Monday, February 28, 2000. Widespread reports of nausea, headaches, leg pain, respiratory problems, depression, and lack of energy began on Friday, February 25, the previous business day, and came from people both with and without EHS.39
Iridium, which had gone bankrupt in the summer of 1999, was resurrected on December 5, 2000, when it signed a contract to provide satellite phones to the United States Armed Forces. On March 30, 2001, commercial service was resumed, and on June 5, Iridium added mobile satellite data services, including the ability to connect to the Internet. Nausea, flu-like symptoms, and feelings of oppression accompanied both events. Hoarseness was a prominent complaint of many who contacted me in early June. But the reports that grabbed headlines had nothing to do with human beings.
The March 30 event was unusual in several respects. First, it was the night of a rare red aurora that was visible in the northern hemisphere as far south as Mexico, as well as in the southern hemisphere. It was a time of intense solar activity, so I was tempted to attribute this to pure coincidence, except that I was reminded of the reddish sky that some reported the night of September 23, 1998, when Iridium was turned on the first time. No one understands all the interactions of these satellite operations with the earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere.
But the second item that attracted notice was a catastrophic loss of Kentucky race horse foals in late April and early May.40 Since mares, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, abort several weeks to a month after, for example, a viral infection, this would put the triggering event at the end of March. Except that no such virus was ever found. In the United States, unusual foaling problems were reported simultaneously not only from Kentucky and nearby states like Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, but also from Maryland, Texas, and northern Michigan. Lenn Harrison, director of the University of Kentucky’s Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center, said he had received similar reports from as far away as Peru.41
Between 2001 and now, our skies have not essentially changed. The number of satellites in low orbit has gradually increased, but Iridium and Globalstar are still the only providers of satellite phones, and the amount of data raining on us all from space is still dominated by those two fleets. That, however, is poised to change in a grand way. In 2017, we had a total of some 1,100 functioning artificial satellites of all types circling the earth. By the end of 2019, the number had already doubled. In 2020, several companies are competing to launch new fleets of 500 to 42,000 satellites each, for the sole purpose of bringing high-speed wireless Internet to the furthest reaches of the earth, and recruiting billions of untapped consumers into the ranks of social media. These plans call for the satellites to fly in orbits as low as 210 miles in altitude, and to aim highly focused beams at the earth with an effective radiated power per beam of up to twenty million watts.42 The names of some of these companies are familiar to everyone: Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Others, as yet, are less well known. SpaceX is the space transport company created by billionaire Elon Musk, the man who wants to put a colony on Mars—and to provide high speed Internet to both planets. OneWeb, based in the United Kingdom, has attracted major investments by Qualcomm and Virgin Galactic, and has signed up Honeywell International as its first large customer. Google, in addition to investing one billion dollars in Musk’s satellite project, has a contract to supply Internet from high-flying balloons to remote parts of the Amazon rainforest in Peru.
As this book goes to press, SpaceX has submitted applications for 42,000 satellites to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the International Telecommunication Union and is already is in process of launching them, 60 at a time. SpaceX has announced that as soon as 420 satellites are in place, which could be as early as February 2020, it will turn them on and begin providing service to some areas of the earth. OneWeb has submitted applications for 5,260 satellites, plans to begin launching 30 at a time in January 2020, and has projected the beginning of service to the Arctic and Antarctic in late 2020 and full global service from 650 satellites in 2021. Telesat, based in Canada, expects to begin launching a fleet of up to 512 satellites in 2021 and to provide global service in 2022. Amazon projects that its 3,236 satellites will serve the entire world except the Arctic and Antarctic. Facebook, thus far, has an experimental satellite license from the FCC under which it is not required to disclose its plans to the public. A new company called Lynk also has an experimental license; it plans to deploy “several thousand” satellites by 2023 and boasts that “we’re going to turn all mobile phones into satellites phones.”
These plans must not happen. The roots of our life-support system are firmly anchored in the pillars of the earth’s magnetic field, far above our heads, where the pulsations of the universe, nourished and watered by the sun, are absorbed, animating all living things below. The engineers, who believe that all these satellites will be too far away to affect life, miss the mark. Even the first small fleet of 28 military satellites, launched into orbit in 1968, ushered in a worldwide pandemic of influenza. The direct radiation is only part of the problem. Satellites have a profound effect, as we learned in chapter 9, because they are already in the earth’s magnetosphere. Unlike radiation from earthly towers, which is greatly attenuated by the time it reaches outer space, radiation from satellites works its full force on the magnetosphere, and is demodulated and amplified there by mechanisms that are poorly understood.
Not only will all these satellites be located in the magnetosphere, but most will be located in the ionosphere, which is the lower part of the magnetosphere. The ionosphere, as we learned in chapter 9, is charged to an average of 300,000 volts and provides the power for the global electrical circuit. The global electrical circuit provides the energy for all living things: it is why we are alive, and it is the source of all health and healing. All doctors of oriental medicine know this, except they call that energy “qi” or “chi.” It flows from the sky to the earth, and it circulates through our meridians and gives us life. It is electricity. You cannot contaminate the global electrical circuit with millions of pulsed, modulated electronic signals without destroying all of life.
The reason the engineering perspective fails is fundamental: it perpetuates the error that our ancestors made in 1800, the terrible decision to treat electricity as a foreign element, a strange beast that operates outside the laws of nature. We acknowledge the existence of electricity only to the extent that it does work for us; otherwise we pretend it is not there. We ignore the warning, issued in 1748 by Jean Morin, that harnessing electricity is tampering with life. We pretend, contrary to all scientific evidence, that there is a safe level of exposure, and that if the authorities only set the safety standards low enough, we can have our radar stations and computer screens and cell phones and not suffer the consequences. We forget the admonitions of Ross Adey, the grandfather of bioelectromagnetics, and of atmospheric physicist Neil Cherry, that we are electrically tuned to the world around us and that the safe level of exposure to radio waves is zero.
The satellite projects have made the growing efforts to educate the world much more urgent. In 2009, an international coalition formed whose mission is to bring the matters addressed in this book to global awareness. At this writing, the International EMF Alliance (IEMFA) collaborates with one hundred and twenty-one organizations from twenty- four countries. The Global Union Against Radiation Deployment from Space (GUARDS) formed in 2015; its mission is to prevent the planned rain of wireless Internet from satellites, drones, and balloons. And in 2019, an International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space has gathered the signatures of thousands of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals from two hundred and two countries and territories. Scientists, doctors, engineers, nurses, psychologists, architects, builders, veterinarians, beekeepers, and other individuals from almost every nation have signed this appeal, and preparations are underway to deliver it to all of the world’s governments.
In 2014, Japanese physician Tetsuharu Shinjyo published a before-and-after study that is a harbinger of the direction in which the world needs to go. He evaluated the health of the residents of an apartment building in Okinawa, upon whose roof cell phone antennas had been operating for a number of years. One hundred and twenty-two individuals, representing 39 of the 47 apartments, were interviewed and examined. Prior to the removal of the antennas, 21 people suffered from chronic fatigue; 14 from dizziness, vertigo, or Ménière’s disease; 14 from headaches; 17 from eye pain, dry eyes, or repeated eye infections; 14 from insomnia; 10 from chronic nosebleeds. Five months after the antennas were removed, no one in the building had chronic fatigue. No one had nosebleeds any more. No one had eye problems. Only two people still had insomnia. One still had dizziness. One still had headaches. Cases of gastritis and glaucoma resolved. Like the residents of that building before the study, the majority of the people in the world today do not know that their acute and chronic illnesses are in large part caused by electromagnetic pollution. They do not talk to each other about their health problems, and are unaware that they are shared by many of their neighbors.
As awareness spreads, it will become acceptable to turn to your neighbor and ask them to turn off their cell phone, or unplug their WiFi. And that will be the beginning of recognition that we have a problem, one that is more than two centuries old. It is a problem that pits the apparent ease of living, the limitless power at our fingertips brought to us by electrical technology, against the unavoidable, irreversible effects of that same technology on the natural world of which we are part. The unfolding human rights emergency, already affecting perhaps one hundred million people worldwide, and the environmental emergency threatening so many plant and animal species with extinction, must be faced with open eyes.
Chapter 16. Bees, Birds, Trees, and Humans
1. Balmori and Hallberg 2007.
2. Sen 2012.
3. Deccan Herald 2012.
4. Personal communication from New Mexico pigeon racer Larry Lucero, 1999.
5. Bigu del Blanco et al. 1973.
6. Haughey 1997.
7. Larry Lucero, personal communication.
8. Robert Costagliola, of Fogelsville, Pennsylvania, personal communication.
9. Gary Moore, the “liberator” for the western Pennsylvania-to-Philadelphia race, personal communication.
10. Elston 2004.
11. Indian Express 2010.
12. Roberts 2000.
13. Mech and Barber 2002, p. 29.
14. Withey et al. 2001, pp. 47-49; Mech and Barber 2002, p. 30.
15. Burrows et al. 1994, 1995 on wild dogs; Mech and Barber 2002, pp. 50-51.
16. Swenson et al. 1999.
17. Moorhouse and Macdonald 2005.
18. Reader’s Digest 1998.
19. Godfrey and Bryant 2003.
20. Engels et al. 2014.
21. Souder 1996.
22. Hallowell 1996.
23. Stern 1990.
24. Hallowell 1996; Souder 1996.
25. Watson 1998.
27. Revkin 2006. 28. Hawk 1996.
29. Hoperskaya et al., p. 254 .
30. Serant 2004.
31. Panagopoulos et al. 2004.
32. Panagopoulous, Chavdoula, Nezis, and Margaritis 2007; Panagopoulos 2012a.
33. Panagopoulos and Margaritis 2008, 2010; Panagopoulos, Chavdoula, and Margaritis 2010; Panagopoulos 2011.
34. Margaritis et al. 2014.
35. Bienenvater, issue no. 9, 2003.
36. Ruzicka 2006.
37. Phillips 1925; Bailey 1964; Underwood and vanEngelsdorp 2007.
38. Bailey 1991, pp. 97-101.
39. Ibid., p. 101.
40. Rinderer et al. 2001.
41. Sanford 2004.
42. Boecking and Ritter 1993.
43. Fries et al. 2006.
44. Page 1998; Rinderer et al. 2001.
45. Rinderer et al. 2001.
46. Kraus and Page 1995.
47. Seeley 2007.
48. National Research Council 2007; Kluser and Peduzzi 2007; vanEngelsdorp 2009.
49. Wilson and Menapace 1979; Underwood and vanEngelsdorp 2007; McCarthy 2011.
50. Also Finley et al. 1996.
51. O’Hanlon 1997.
52. Hamzelou 2007.
53. Kluser and Peduzzi 2007.
54. Borenstein 2007.
55. McCarthy 2011; Pattazhy 2012.
56. Le Conte et al. 2010.
57. Evans et al. 2008.
58. Warnke 1976; Becker 1977.
59. Warnke 1989.
60. Lindauer and Martin 1972; Warnke 2009.
61. Pattazhy 2011a, 2011b, 2012, and personal communication.
62. Warnke 2009.
63. Schütt and Cowling 1985.
64. Microwave News 1994.
65. Kolodynski and Kolodynska 1996.
66. Balode 1996.
67. Liepa and Balodis 1994.
68. Balodis et al. 1996.
69. Selga and Selga 1996.
70. Magone 1996.
71. Lorenz et al. 2003.
72. Bentouati and Bariteau 2006.
73. Hennon et al. 1990; Hennon and Shaw 1994; Hennon et al. 2012.
74. Navy Department, Bureau of Equipment 1907, 1908; United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Navigation 1913.
75. Phillips et al. 2009.
76. Rohter 2002.
77. Worrall et al. 2008.
Chapter 17. In the Land of the Blind
1. Mild et al. 1998.
2. Yakymenko et al. 2011.
3. Dalsegg 2002.
4. Johansson 2004.
5. Hallberg and Oberfeld 2006.
6. Byun et al. 2013.
7. Tatemichi et al. 2004.
8. Kimata 2002.
9. Ye et al. 2001.
10. Li et al. 2011.
11. Oktay and Dasdag 2006.
12. Panda et al. 2011.
13. Velayutham et al. 2014.
14. Mishra 2011.
15. Mishra 2010, p. 51.
16. Salford et al. 2003.
17. Nittby et al. 2008.
18. Şahin et al. 2015.
19. Baş et al. 2013; Hancı et al. 2013; İkinci et al. 2013; Odacı et al. 2013; Hancı et al. 2015; Odacı, Hancı, İkinci et al. 2015; Odacı and Özyılmaz 2015; Odacı, Ünal, et al. 2015; Topal et al. 2015; Türedi et al. 2015; Odacı, Hancı, Yuluğ et al. 2016.
20. İkinci et al. 2015.
21. Blue Cross Blue Shield 2019.
22. Bejot et al. 2014.
23. Rosengren et al. 2013.
24. Putaala et al. 2009.
25. Tibæk et al. 2016. 26. West et al. 2013. 27. Wolford et al. 2015.
28. Siegel et al. 2017.
29. Wong et al. 2016
30. Hallberg and Johansson 2009.
31. Weiner et al. 2016.
32. Centola et al. 2016.
33. Hutton et al. 2019.
34. Broomhall 2017.
35. Hallman et al. 2017
36. Lister and Garcia 2018.
37. Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys 2019.
38. “Satellites Begin Worldwide Service,” No Place To Hide 2(1): 3 (1999).
39. “Satellites: An Urgent Situation,” No Place To Hide 2(3): 18 (2000).
40. “Update on Satellites,” No Place To Hide 3(2): 15 (2001).
41. Janet Patton, “Foal deaths remain a mystery,” Lexington Herald-Leader, May 9, 2001; Lenn Harrison, personal communication.
42. The actual power in each beam will be 100 watts or less, but since all of that power will be focused in a laser-like beam, the effective radiated power (EIRP) is reported to the FCC. The EIRP is the amount of power the satellite would have to emit in order to have the same strength in all directions as it has in the focused beam.