should we be worried about 5G?

If we have learned anything at all from history, we should know that when an industry tells us to trust them, not to worry our pretty little heads – of course their product is safe! – and seeks to avoid regulation, we should be very worried indeed. Tobacco, asbestos, thalidomide, glyphosate – all have unleashed terrible consequences on the trusting public. In these cases and many more, the industries concerned knew all along that their products were potentially harmful. They paid for favourable research, covered up critical research, silenced scientists, lobbied politicians, spent fortunes on advertising campaigns and raked in the profits until the undeniable evidence – in the form of illnesses and deaths – could no longer be ignored.

Now it’s happening again, this time with the telecommunications industry and the roll-out of 5G. But this experiment has much higher stakes: thousands of satellites are being launched into the ionosphere and repeaters are being installed all over urban areas. Every living thing – people, animals, insects, plants – are being forced into the experiment, whether or not we are using or want to use the product. The goal of 5G is to blanket the entire planet so that mobile phone signals are beamed to every single inch of the ocean, of what’s left of the Amazon, every inch of desert and mountain. Supposedly it’s all for our benefit and convenience, so that we can receive phone calls and watch online videos and use the internet, wherever we might happen to be. We should just shut up and be grateful, no?

For several years now, scientists have been making appeals to international organisations and governments , calling for a precautionary approach to 5G. In response, Brussels and Geneva have this year halted the roll-out of 5G due to health and environmental concerns. But many governments are beholden to their tech industries and accept the companies’ breezy reassurances that everything is safe and fine. Which is understandable, as these governments stand to benefit too, through increasing opportunities for surveillance and control of their populations.

Most of the criticisms of 5G are dismissed by industry and governments as conspiracy theories and paranoia; but the bottom line is that there is no conclusive evidence that 5G is harmless (just as there is also still no conclusive evidence that domestic wifi or mobile phones are harmless). The truth is that we won’t know for years, decades perhaps, what the real impact of 5G will be on living beings and the environment. We probably won’t know until it’s too late. The roll out of 5G has already begun and seems unstoppable, despite so many unanswered questions.

This computer illustration depicts the density of space junk around Earth in low-Earth orbit. (Image: © ESA)
This computer illustration depicts the density of space junk around Earth in low-Earth orbit. (Image: © ESA)

For example, what are the impacts of the massive increase of satellite launching and space junk? Current proposals will see thousands of satellites being launched every year, to quickly reach a total of around 50,000 satellites orbiting in the ionosphere – compared with approximately 2000 functioning and 3000 non-functioning satellites currently up there. These satellites will be launched at a rate of a few hundred per month over the coming years, and each satellite is expected to last for about 5 years, so there won’t be an end to the launching. That’s a lot of fuel, resources and carbon emissions just in launching the satellites (rockets using liquid kerosene fuel are less ozone-depleting, but release massive amounts of black carbon soot into the air). And what happens to them once they stop working? Space junk or “orbital debris” is a rapidly increasing problem: “Over 21,000 pieces of space trash larger than 4 inches (10 centimeters) and half a million bits of junk between 1 cm and 10 cm are estimated to circle the planet” and it’s expected to triple by 2030. Experts admit that they don’t have a solution or plan, other than to “minimize debris as we go forward” – which is hardly going to happen with the unregulated race by the telecommunications industry to roll out 5G.

And all that is before we even start to think about the effects of radio frequency raadiation and millimetre microwaves. Sure, those of us in urban areas in the developed world are already living in an increasing mesh of microwaves, electromagnetic fields and other forms of radiation. But 5G is going to massively multiply the strength and reach of all of these invisible rays, which will be 10 times more powerful than 4G. Most scary is the reach: literally everywhere on earth will be radiated. If you’re EMF sensitive or just don’t want to be around EMFs for whatever reason – bad luck; there will be no escape, at least not on this planet. We are all guinea pigs in the largest ever experiment, along with every other life-form on the planet and the entire planet itself and its atmosphere. We still don’t really understand the impact of domestic wifi or cell phone usage, and controversy rages around the impact of current cell phone antennae and towers. Many schools have successfully argued against towers located close to their buildings, due to the potential harmful effects on children. Yet now we are all going to be blasted, everywhere, with much higher levels of microwave radiation than ever before, higher than deemed safe by the WHO – legally mandated by committees stacked with industry representatives. And for what? So that tech corporations can rake in profits, governments can rake in data, and the population can be kept in a state of obedience, stupefied with cat videos and social media bubbles.

There is of course plenty of research arguing that 5G is safe, it will not fry your brain, and it’s all in the interpretation of data and variables. This may well be true, and indeed I would be very happy if in the end it turns out to be completely harmless. But even if it is completely harmless, it should not be forced onto the entire planet – we should have the right to escape the experiment if we want to (and have the resources to do so – most people would still have no choice). There is absolutely no need to bombard every living creature and plant, and every inch of soil and water, with RF and millimetre microwave radiation. There is absolutely no need for thousands of satellites to be launched into the ionosphere.

We must ask, who is really benefiting here? Those who are calling for caution have nothing to gain from stopping the 5G roll out – they are motivated by a concern for public safety and the environment. Whereas those who are forcing it onto us have everything to gain: financial profits and social control. I know who I trust more.