The Twitter fire storm and why I said what I said about Wi-Fi

It has been an interesting day.  While doing my work on constituency matters, I tried to keep at bay a growing furor over why I had tweeted about the safety of electromagnetic radiation and Wi-Fi.  I haven’t been attacked with such nastiness in ages.  (I used to be used to it.  It was almost refreshing.)  The easiest thing to do on twitter, would, I suppose, be to wave a white flag and say “just kidding.”  Instead, I think the controversy has created a good teaching moment.

When I was first attacked and lambasted for expressing concern about various forms of pollution and human health, I was young and the attackers were brutal.  I was worried about things like Agent Orange.  Health Canada wasn’t.  I was concerned about lead in gas, but it was hard to get the government to act.  I worked to get certain pesticides banned, but they were “safe” right up to the day they were banned.

So, for friends and foes alike on Twitter, I think a fuller explanation for my views than can fit in a tweet is required.

First, a few clear caveats to keep the issue in proportion: 

  • The health risks of electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, cell phone towers and Wi-Fi have not become the Green Party’s top priority.
  • For those who tweeted that other issues are more important, no argument.
  • Poverty is a more important determinant of health. 
  • Active lifestyle and nutrition are also more important. 
  • The pharmaceutical industry and our lax testing is more important.
  • Climate change is a more important priority for all of us. 

Nevertheless, I was not speaking without a careful review of the background on this issue which I would like to share (please forgive the length of this blog as I will be posting links to important documents.)

The Green Party has passed the following members-based resolution:  

BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE GREEN PARTY OF CANADA DEMAND THAT HEALTH CANADA CREATE ENFORCEABLE, BIOLOGICALLY- BASED  REGULATIONS, THAT WOULD LIMIT HUMAN EXPOSURE TO RADIO FREQUENCY RADIATION TO A PRECAUTIONARY LIMIT OF 0.1 uW/cm2 (or 0.614 V/m ) FOR CUMULATIVE OUTDOOR EXPOSURE, AS RECOMMENDED IN THE “BIOINITIATIVE REPORT” OF 2007. (www.bioinitiative.org/report/index.htm)

This is not to say the science is essentially “settled,” as it is on climate change.  There is no scientific consensus on EMF and health. But, it is equally not possible to make the claims many of Twitter have made today that Wi-Fi and cell phones are all proven “safe.”

There are studies on both sides of the issue.  They fall into two general categories – epidemiological studies on humans and animal studies.

Epidemiological studies (studying the human population exposed to a substance or activity and then working to assess whether a health impact is linked to that substance or behaviour) are inherently fraught with difficulties in proof.  There are always issues of bias (not the same as suggesting researchers are biased, but that the patient’s recall may be flawed), and there are confounding factors (such as other things in the subjects’ environment that could have caused the health problem).  Causal links come slowly and over decades in some cases to build up a weight of evidence.  One study, either way is never conclusive. 

Animal studies have their own limitations.  Rats and humans are different.  Exposure rates used in animal studies will exceed (often substantially) an approximation of what humans may be exposed to.

I have been paying close attention to the issue since the first peer-reviewed medical study of Dr. Lennart Hardell in Sweden.  He found an association between cell phone use and brain cancer.  I paid attention because I knew Dr. Hardell’s name, his reputation and his work.  He was one of the first researchers to find an association between phenoxy herbicides (Agent Orange) and cancer.

I paid attention to an editorial in The Lancet, the Journal of the British Medical Society, over ten years ago (which I cannot now find on Google, but which I have hard copy in files back in Ottawa).  It warned that, under the precautionary principle, children and adolescents should not be exposed to cell phones and that exposure to EMF should be kept to a minimum.  It said young people were more vulnerable  -- not only to cancer but to mental confusion after being exposed to EMF.

In 2008, the European Parliament took action to bring in stricter limits for cell phone and Wi-Fi use for children. The following is from The Independent (Geoffrey Lean, “Mobile phone use 'raises children's risk of brain cancer fivefold',” September 21, 2008.):

“Last week the European Parliament voted by 522 to 16 to urge ministers across Europe to bring in stricter limits for exposure to radiation from mobile and cordless phones, Wi-fi and other devices, partly because children are especially vulnerable to them. They are more at risk because their brains and nervous systems are still developing and because – since their heads are smaller and their skulls are thinner – the radiation penetrates deeper into their brains.

David Carpenter, dean of the School of Public Health at the State University of NewYork – who also attended the conference – said: "Children are spending significant time on mobile phones. We may be facing a public health crisis in an epidemic of brain cancers as a result of mobile phone use."

In 2000 and 2005, two official inquiries under Sir William Stewart, a former government chief scientist, recommended the use of mobile phones by children should be "discouraged" and "minimised".”

 

Why did I say the evidence is mounting?

Because of two recent and important reviews and events.

One is the May 6, 2011 Resolution passed by the Council of Europe.  http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc11/EDOC12608.pdf 

The Council of Europe Resolution bemoans the fact that earlier calls for the use of the precautionary principle in relation to exposure to EMF (such as the 2008 resolution cited above) have been ignored and that children and young people, in particular, are being exposed to increasing levels of EMF.  The children and young people are described as a “particularly vulnerable group.”

Please go to the text of the full resolution to review the Council’s detailed call to restrict exposures.

The second major event was the recent decision which I posted earlier on Twitter  by the World Health Organization to list EMF as a Class 2B human carcinogen.  The immediate twitter reaction was to latch onto the fact that it was not conclusive.  I know it is not conclusive, but you have to read the study that was conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  Thirty scientists from 14 countries reviewed a large number of human and animal studies.  It was published in The Lancet on line on June 22, 2011. (see this link for the full study  http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(11)70147-4/fulltext)

Here is an excerpt to give you the feeling of the weighing of competing studies.  This was a rigorous review:

“Although both the INTERPHONE study and the Swedish pooled analysis are susceptible to bias—due to recall error and selection for participation—the Working Group concluded that the findings could not be dismissed as reflecting bias alone, and that a causal interpretation between mobile phone RF-EMF exposure and glioma is possible. A similar conclusion was drawn from these two studies for acoustic neuroma, although the case numbers were substantially smaller than for glioma. Additionally, a study from Japan11 found some evidence of an increased risk for acoustic neuroma associated with ipsilateral mobile phone use.”

(Glioma is a form of brain cancer.  The INTERPHONE study has been controversial as it was industry funded, but it needs to be considered.  The debate has been from two primary cancer research groups  -- Hardell’s work and INTERPHONE’s)

I will attach an older review from the European Environment Agency in 2007, but it is useful due to a list of citations and references.  Not all of the references say there is a problem.  As I hope is now clear, I am not saying we know for sure that Wi-Fi, cell phones and cell phone towers are health hazards.  What is important to appreciate is that a significant number of serious medical researchers, none of them wearing tinfoil hats, are concerned that the human population is being subjected to an enormous biological experiment.

As for the theory re pollinators, going back to review the current state of information, the evidence is weaker.  There is one study from India and a presentation from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, briefing to Congress expressing concerns, May 10, 2007.

Our stance is simple and responsible.  Exercise the precautionary principle.  A risk of a health problem requires a cautious approach until the science is settled. 

For me personally, that translates into using my blackberry, but not carrying it in my pocket.  I do not hold it up against my head.  I prefer land lines.  Do I occasionally use cell phones?  Sure.  Do I want high speed internet in my house? Yes, and I have a cable.  Am I happy to latch onto a signal in the airport by Wi-Fi? You bet.

It is a matter of knowing there are unanswered questions and taking reasonable precautions.  If you have Wi-Fi in your home, turn it off when you are sleeping.  Locate the router away from where your kids are sleeping.  Urge your kids to text more than talk with the phone to their head.

The place where those reasonable precautions are most important is related to our children.  That is why the European Union and Council for Europe urge much stricter standards than in Canada.  I don’t think that’s an unreasonable position.  So tweet away!

European Environment Agency

Radiation risk from everyday devices assessed
Document Actions

Published: 17 Sep 2007

A new report raising concerns about the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on human health calls for tougher safety standards to regulate radiation from mobile phones, power lines and many other sources of exposure in daily life. The report, 'Bioinitiative: A Rationale for a Biologically-Based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields' was compiled by the BioInitiative Working Group, an international group of scientists, researchers and public health policy professionals. The EEA has contributed to this new report with a chapter drawn from the EEA study 'Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896–2000' published in 2001.

Themes

Environment and health

The EEA study reviews the histories of a selection of public and environmental hazards, such as asbestos, benzene and PCBs, from the first scientifically based early warnings about potential harm, to subsequent precautionary and preventive measures. Cases on tobacco smoking and lead in petrol are forthcoming.

Although the EEA does not have specific expertise in EMF, the case studies of public hazards analysed in the ' Late lessons' publication show that harmful exposures can be widespread before there is both 'convincing' evidence of harm from long-term exposures, and biological understanding of how that harm is caused.

'There are many examples of the failure to use the precautionary principle in the past, which have resulted in serious and often irreversible damage to health and environments. Appropriate, precautionary and proportionate actions taken now to avoid plausible and potentially serious threats to health from EMF are likely to be seen as prudent and wise from future perspectives. We must remember that precaution is one of the principles of EU environmental policy,' says Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA.

Current evidence, although limited, is strong enough to question the scientific basis for the present EMF exposure limits, according to the BioInitiative Working Group.

For more information:

  1. Mobile Telecommunications Research Programme, United Kingdom, September 2007
    1. MTHR: Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research
    2. Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research report 2007
  2. Interphone (World Health Organisation — International Agency for Research on Cancer) on-going project on mobile phones.
    http://www.who.int/peh-emf/meetings/archive/interphone_iac2005.pdfhttp://www.who.int/peh-emf/project/intorg/en/index1.html
  3. BioInitiative Report, August 2007
    1. http://www.bioinitiative.org/
    2. BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic fields (ELF and RF): http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/docs/report.pdf
  4. German advice on WIFI exposures July 2007
    http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/061/1606117.pdf
    http://www.icems.eu/docs/deutscher_bundestag.pdf
  5. World Health Organisation review on Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic fields and Health, June 2007:
    1. Electromagnetic fields and public health. Fact sheet N322, June 2007.
      http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs322/en/index.html
    2. Extremely Low Frequency Fields
      Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No. 238
      http://www.who.int/peh-emf/publications/elf_ehc/en/index.html
  6. IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) microwave magazine, Editorial, Volume 8, Issue 3, June 2007. Cellular Mobile Radiation and Intercranial Tumours. Lin J.C.
    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=6668
  7. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), Opinion on Possible Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) on Human Health, March, 2007
    http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_007.pdf
    Related web sites:
    http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/environment/EMF/keydo_emf_en.htm
    http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/environment/EMF/emf_en.htm
  8. REFLEX research study, DG Research, 2000–2004
    http://www.verum-foundation.de/reflex/
    See also ‘EU Research on Environment and Health — Results from projects funded by the 5th Work frame programme, pages 176–177 on REFLEX and EMF projects, pages 166–181
  9. Friedman et al., ‘Mechanisms of short term ERK activation by electromagnetic fields at mobile phone frequencies’, Biochem Journal, 405, 559–568, 2007
  10. Mobile Phones and Health: Reports by Stewart/National Radiological Protection Board, United Kingdom, 2002, 2004
    1. Mobile Phones and Health 2004. NRPB. Volume 15, No. 5.
      http://www.hpa.org.uk/radiation/publications/documents_of_nrpb/abstracts...
    2. A summary of recent reports on Mobile Phones and Health (2000– 2004). NRPB. W65.
      http://www.hpa.org.uk/radiation/publications/w_series_reports/2005/nrpb_w65.pdf
  11. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Non-ionizing radiation, Part 1: Static and Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields. World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, 2002.
    http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol80/volume80.pdf
  12. World Health Organization ‘Principles for evaluating health risks in children associated with exposure to chemicals’, Environmental Health Criteria, 237, Geneva, 2007.
    http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/924157237X_eng.pdf
  13. International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (Up to 300GHz), International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, Health Physics, Vol 74, No 4, p 494–522, 1998.
    http://www.icnirp.de/documents/emfgdl.pdf
  14. EEA, ‘Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896–2000’, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, 2001.
    http://reports.eea.europa.eu/environmental_issue_report_2001_22/en

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This is the wrong response..

I find too often that party-line conservatives both here in Canada and in the US simply adopt whatever stance is good for short-term economic benefit of large enterprise.

This is oft the case because the ownership of the large industry players is concentrated, so organized lobbying efforts are easily agreed by the majority of players.  Since the political centre are also looking to recover some ground, they are simply following along.

Regardless, it is very easy to argue the negative case without facts to an audience that is unlikely to have the facts themselves.  Most people of course do not know about the science of the biological affects of EM radiation.

The reality is that at low emissive power of 0.1 uW/cm2, it is not conclusive whether or not there are any long-term concerns for any segments of the population.  Seeing as how some will have more sensitivity than others, it may still be concerning to some.  What is conclusive is that higher emissive power does lead to short-term affects like cognitive disorders, and long-term affects like sterility and cancer.  What is not known is the relationship between power and affect.

Arguing with a full scientific response unlikely to be read by your critics is probably pointless.  You should focus on the words that are typical in this situation: inconclusivity.  The pursuit of enterprise must not invalidate prudence.

There are a few things of importance to note about WiFi in schools.  One can buy some WiFi routers and subsequently boost their output power beyond safe and legal limits.  When I say it is beyond safe, I mean it conclusively is unsafe.  It is not difficult to do, and some installation techs may decide it is a valid option instead of finding alternate placements of hardware.  No one will ever come back and check this.  I lived next to a school with a PA system that can be heard clearly nearly a mile away in a residential neighbourhood.  Normal individuals would have reduced the volume, but this is government, and no one cares.  This is a direct analogy to what I expect would happen spuriously within a school system that approves these devices.

The second thing about WiFi is that in schools it is generally unnecessary.  It is not hard to wire up a few computer labs in school.  There is no good reason to introduce portable electronic devices as learning aids in schools to teach traditional subject matter.  And as I am a computer engineer, please take my word for it.

Anyway, more to my point: it's very easy to declare shenanigans on someone without providing facts.  You need to suck your critics into a discourse that highlights their obvious lack of facts and distorted priorities.

With that said, I don't see how WiFi would be unsafe in the home unless you sleep next to your WiFi router.  There is already plenty of EM radiation floating through your body from other sources, like cell towers, radio & television broadcast, satellite broadcast, and the cosmos.  One WiFi router several metres from your normal station in your home is not going to make a material difference to you either way.  Your computer monitor outputs significant radiation as well, and you sit quite close to it (let alone old CRTs.)

Of all the issues, is this

Of all the issues, is this really something you (and by extension the Green Party) really want to be perceived as being out in front on?

@ Mark I agree, this is not a

@ Mark

I agree, this is not a sound issue for the party, it simply supports the belief of many we are anti tech ludites and invites riticule. 

Dissapointed

I'm dissapointed.  Weather or not wi-fi transmitters are in schools there are still wi-fi signals in the area...  The "lack of consensus" really only lies on what is it now... three published articles? Vs how many that say it's safe?

Regardless I think that this issue will do nothing but harm our party and the gains we've made (or... we've actually lost votes haven't we).  

 

I truely believe we need to stick to issues that have hard facts backing them up.  Even with doing just that we still have a hard time breaking through "the fringes".  But with a maybe / maybe-not issue like this we really look like we're on the edge...

 

I'm dissapointed and afraid that this stance could have a damaging affect on the party image.  I think it's the wrong choice and seriously puts in doubt my membership renewal in the coming year.   I thought we were about sticking to the facts, not the maybes.

"There are studies on both sides of the issue."

"There are studies on both sides of the issue."

The same can be said about CO2 causing climate change, but we know that the vast preponderance prove it, while a small minority contradict it.

What is the balance of science like on this issue? 2 or 3 papers indicating a possible health risk of wi-fi would influence me more if they come from a universe of 5-6 studies. But if they are part of, as this Health Canada video indicates, thousands of studies, the majority of which indicate no measurable risk, then I'm not swayed by a few outliers.

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins, Barrie ON - although I'm on Cabinet (Nat'l Rev. and Ecol. Fiscal Reform), views here are my own and may not reflect official GPC positions. Please visit www.ErichtheGreen.ca

Agreed.  As such we shouldn't

Agreed.  As such we shouldn't be putting this view forward.  Not only do we look hypocritical on the climate change / global warming issue when compared to wi-fi but it's just too iffy.  We need to stand on solid ground or risk being swept aside as uninformed, unreliable and too willing to jump on bandwagon issues.

Comments on WiFi Smart Meters go too far

I don't know much about the health-related implications of wifi.  I just know that it's very popular, and that it's not going anywhere.  Perhaps I should be more concerned about it, and maybe after reading this blogpost, I will be.  I might even turn my router off at night.

Having said that, I am very concerned about the health-related impacts of climate change.  I've always believed that one of the ways in which to minimize those, and other impacts, would be to use less energy.  As much of our energy is generated by fossil fuels, or (here in Ontario) expensive and perhaps dangerous nuclear fuels, I've subscribed to a belief for some time now that we need to be doing much more to encourage conservation.

To that end, attacking the implementation of B.C.'s smart meter program seems to me to be a step backwards.  I suppose that, if the B.C. Green Party thinks that it will win them votes to attack the provincial Liberal government's requirement for smart meters in homes, on the grounds that the precautionary principle isn't being exercised because wifi-related health risks haven't conclusively been proven to not exist...well, more power to the B.C. Greens.  Sterk would have immediately lost my vote if I was living in B.C., but that's their choice.

Now, as for the Green Party of Canada.  Yes, we have adopted the resolution May outlines in her blog.  That's policy.  The GPC is calling on Health Canada to adopt a meaningful regulation, which will protect Canadians from exposure to radiofrequency radiation.  Presumably the amount identified is fairly low.  Is the amount lower than what we can expect to encounter from wifi smart meters?  I don't know.  Probably not, given that Bram has pointed out that there are many sources of radiation to which we are typically exposed in any given day.  Also, I understand that cell phone use is a much greater concern than wifi.  So, I don't know if exposure to smart meters would put someone over 0.1 uW/cm2 (or 0.614 V/m ) for outdoor exposure (or whether we could even call wifi exposure in our own homes "outdoor exposure").  I just don't know.

What I do know is that the Green Party of Canada hasn't taken a member-approved policy position on wifi smart meters.  I concede that, to some, it might not be a stretch to interpret our policy resolution, above, as equating a concern with radiological exposure.  But specifically, the policy resolution says NOTHING about wifi smart meters.

In other words, the Green Party is concerned about exposure and wants Health Canada to regulate.  But we've taken no position (to my knowledge) on things like wifi smart meters, cell phone towers, wifi in schools, the use of cell phones by children.

Maybe the B.C. Greens have.  But we haven't.

And to that end, the joint press release issued yesterday which quotes May as supporting the B.C. Greens drive to stop wifi smart meters is disconcerting, and frankly drags our Party into a provincial fight that we've taken no position on.  I appreciate that the quote from May in the press release refers only to our Health Canada resolution, and says nothing (specifically) about wifi smart meters (unlike posts made on Twitter), but given that the quotes serve as ammunition for the B.C. Greens call to stop the smart meter program in that province, and given the clumsy language used to refer to "other jurisdictions" at the outset of the release, I posit that a casual reader of this press release (and probably more than a few journalists and news editors) would come to the conclusion that the Green Party of Canada is against wifi smart meters. 

I understand May's concerns.  In fact, I am using this whole episode as a "teaching moment" as she has suggested.  But I believe that associating our national Party with the B.C. Green's call for re-evaluating wifi smart meters was the wrong direction to take, and frankly one not supported by member-approved policy.  It's not so much what May has said which I find problematic; it's the association of our Party with that cause that I find troubling, in absence of policy.

Let the B.C. Greens fight this battle on their own.  Best of luck to them in the coming election if this is the hill that they want to die on.  The GPC must continue to move forward.  Battling against wifi smart meters isn't going to get us to where we need to go.  Unless we're all on board through approved policy.  Right now, we're not there.

"Sudbury" Steve May

Well said.   Not only are the

Well said.   Not only are the BC Greens wrong, (as I understand it, this smart meter  only transmitts for a minute or two a day at very low levels causing almost no addtional exposure which is more than a reasonable trade off for what the meter will achieve.)  with no policy on this issue the GPC  has no right to comment.

As far as I know the GPO has no smart meter bias(am I wrong?)  Will the GPC now come out and say the GPO is wrong in NOT being against smart meters?

It's not our issue,  stay out of it or propose a policy for our next convention,, I'm telling you now I'll vote against it.

 

Perspective: The smart grid is more important than WiFi concerns

EMay your position on this isn't even internally consistent. We are talking about the GREEN party opposing smart metering in BC, a critical step towards developing a smart grid, arguably the most critical step we can take towards conserving energy and making renewable power generation viable. Why? because it uses Wi-Fi Technology. Technology you hypocritically used to voice your opposition. You make the following points in this blog entry:

  • The health risks of electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, cell phone towers and Wi-Fi have not become the Green Party’s top priority.
  • For those who tweeted that other issues are more important, no argument.
  • Poverty is a more important determinant of health. Active lifestyle and nutrition are also more important.
  • The pharmaceutical industry and our lax testing is more important.
  • Climate change is a more important priority for all of us.

Given these, your own points, how can the Green Party be opposing smart meters that will help protect the environment and aid in the fight against climate change because they use Wi-Fi technology? Given your precautionary principle, certainly a meter on the outside of a house is far less of a risk then routers that are now ubiquitously inside public places. In politics, you must pick your battles and save your political capital for the fights worth fighting. You and the BC greens that are standing with you in opposing smart meters because of Wi-Fi are embarrassing us by appearing as intransigent and ideologicaly fanatical as the Republican-controlled congress South of the boarder that would rather let the US default on its debt rather than eliminate taxes breaks for the rich. If you would see the smart grid project fail in BC rather then have smart meters that us Wi-Fi on homes in BC I respectfully ask that you review your priorities. 

Can't we declare war on meat instead?

I agree wholeheartedly that opposing smart meters is inconsistent with the core health principles outlined in her post.

There are known health risks associated with eating meat, not to mention the UN has determined that industrial farming associated with meat production is responsible for more CO2 emissions worldwide than transportation.

Given that, I wish the Globe & Mail headline today was "Elizabeth May wages war against meat." That would at least be consistent with our platform.

Russell Ovans, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO, Backstage Games

Declaring a war on meat would be worse.

I think declaring a war on meat would make the GPC a laughing stock.

No NATO, no NORAD, no NAFTA, no cell-phones, no WiFi, no nuclear, no fossil fuels, no cars, no single family houses, no large enterprise, no fractional reserve lending, no compound interest, no meat.

Yay, we've alienated everyone.

Yes, but at least it is consistent with party policy

My point about a war on meat is that at least it would be consistent with the science and our party policy. I was being facetious. But I honestly do believe that our leader should advocate the merits of a plant-based diet instead of calling on Health Canada to investigate the health risks of a power meter that will be installed outside our homes and use WiFi two minutes a day to relay information that could help reduce our energy consumption patterns.

Russell Ovans, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO, Backstage Games

Not consistent with our policy

Our approved member policy very keenly does not declare a war on meat.  Our campaign policy also did not.  And I am not being pedantic about this.  There is an extremely important reason why members saw fit not to call for a war on meat.  It would make us unelectable anywhere.  In fact, due to the above policy items I've itemized above, it is already clear we are biting off more than we can chew.  We would be well served by narrowing our scope a bit.  Maybe we could try to emphasize more positive things the GPC can offer instead of continually prodding about the negative things some members oppose.

I would love to pick out some of the more obviously alienating policies and ask members their opinion on the matter through a random survey.   I feel the official member voting process, which does not see high participation, causes us to have non-representative policies.

Smart meters

I think it's a great pity that the BC Greens have called for a halt to the installation of smart meters and that the national Green Party  seems to have endorsed this policy. To gain political traction, the national party needs to earn and maintain a reputation of being science-based, with a pragmatic focus on the most important environmental problems, especially climate change. Opposing smart meters will only provide ammunition to our opponents and may cause BC Hydro to take a step back on an important initiative.

Having attended several meetings at which Elizabeth May was present, I can understand the difficulty she faces in dealing with this problem. Many of the opponents of smart meters are very passionate and, for them, this is the issue that dominates over all others. But they need to be told that the scientific consensus is that there is very likely not a big public health risk with any EM radiation and that smart meters are very small contributors of EM radiation compared to many other sources in most households.

 

on smart meters for a moment.

on smart meters for a moment.  The only concern I've heard of (as a Vancouverite) is privacy issues about electricity use throughout the day.  Why should the government know when I wake up and turn things off?  or on... or use a hottub, etc.   It's too far.

Smart politics

The GPC sensibly campaigned on the need to build a smart economy. That includes smart grids and smart meters. To me the teaching / learning moment here is not about EMF; it’s about how to conduct smart politics.

We need to stay on message and not surprise everyone, especially ourselves, with such things as a Globe and Mail headline that characterizes us as having declared war on Wi-Fi.

Ard Van Leeuwen (Dufferin-Caledon, ON)

The views I express on this blog are purely my own and should not be construed to represent the official position of the Green Party of Canada.

Fear-mongering is not part of our platform!

I don't even know where to begin, or exactly what to say. I am suddenly embarassed to be a member of the party.

Believing that there are health risks associated with WiFi, despite over 10 years of biomedical engineering research to the contrary, is like denying climate change because of a few junk scientists that refuse to let the facts get in the way of emotion.

Russell Ovans, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO, Backstage Games

Just finished a book on this

Just finished a book on this very subject. Please have a look at... "zapped by Ann Louise Gittleman"

 

Harold Henn Nanaimo-Cowichan

Bring back the Living

Bring back the Living Platform and we can talk about it.

Constantine Kritsonis

If studies are inconclusive

If studies are inconclusive and more work needs to be done, then - - that's what we should say.  

Meanwhile the first rule of toxicology: 'Its not the toxin, its the dose.'  can be the rule of thumb.

And to apply this, recall that the intensity of e/m waves drops off as per the inverse square law. Double the distance from the source, and the intensity drops to 1/4.  Triple the distance and its 1/9th.  So just keep your distance whenever practical.

An upside to this is that young people no longer 'phone' each other, its not cool, they 'text'.  With the result that their phone is no longer pressed tightly against their head.

Respectfully, D. Scott Barclay

Smart Meters, Blogs and Comments

A couple of things:

I came across a tweet from Elizabeth over the weekend with regards to smart meters. She had tweeted that the GPC has never opposed smart meters. 

May tweeted: "ElizabethMay @TRTooke As I said in our news conf, greens support smart metres as part of a smart grid, conservation strategy. #SmartMeter 5 days ago  in reply to TRTooke"

Based on my assessment, which I've blogged somewhat extensively about here, it does seem to be the case that May and the federal Party haven't said that we oppose smart meters.  And that's unlike the B.C. Greens, who have clearly come out against the use of smart meters.

Also, I've been asked by Daryl Vernon, a former member of the Green Party, to link to comments he's made on my blog, as he is unable to comment here.  I don't agree with Daryl, but I'm always appreciative when he shares his opinions.  Hence this post.

And finally...thank you Nycole Turmel, for taking the focus off of the Green Party these past few days.  Still, though, I think that the Party needs to clarify our position on Smart Meters in more than just a tweet.  The mainstream media has clearly been suggesting that the GPC is against smart meters.  With elections happening in Ontario and PEI later this year, it makes sense that the National Party distance itself from the B.C. Greens as quickly and clearly as possible.

"Sudbury" Steve May

Some lose touch with goals

I am a Federal and BC GP member and support the implementation of smart meters. It will even out the grid load over the 24 hour period. I know of three households  (two in Ontario, one in BC) that have already put a simple timer on their electric hot water heaters to run them only at night as a hot water heater will retain it's heat for 3 days if not drawn on. The smart meter will make people think about leaving unnecessary loads like their computer, router and printer  running 24 hours a day even when nobody is home. Maybe even get around to fixing that leaking hot water tap.

Protect the environment is the big picture issue, no need to bring a few short data packet bursts over WiFi from a smart meter into the equation.

These are my personal opinions.

 

Precautionary principle

It seems to me that the comments on this blog totally ignore one of the main points of Elizabeth's note. Whenever some new technology comes along, the precautionary principle should be applied: in the absence of evidence, take the proper precautions. In other words, better safe than sorry.

Unfortunately, the dominant assumption is that a new product, device, substance or practice is safe until proven otherwise. Worse, most often the burden of proof is on the complainant (usually an individual or small group with few resources), not the originating company or government agency. It is this blind unthinking assumption that new things are beneficial that must be challenged at every step of the way. 

As for which issue is more important, the answer is "all of them". Pick one and champion it.

Louis Bertrand Bowmanville ON http://durhamgreens.ca/