I watch some of the Internet’s stupidest conspiracy theories; chemtrails, jets don’t burn fuel, flat earth, hollow earth, moon landings were faked, vaccines cause autism (and apparently every other childhood ailment), naturopathy, chiropractic, HAARP weather modification etc – they all provide a bit of amusement to me when I consider how easy it is for some people to get sucked in.
Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more conspiracy theories around 5G mobile networks. Some more ridiculous than others:
- 5G causes cancer and other cellular mutations
- 5G causes headaches
- 5G causes weather problems such as storms
- 5G causes COVID-19 (SARS-Cov-2 Coronavirus)
- 5G cause trees to be deformed, losing branches and leaves
One of my family members has been spreading these conspiracy theories, trying to convince the rest of my family to sign some protest web site to prevent the roll out of 5G. She has been seeing conspiracy memes blaming 5G for bird mass death events, for headaches (allegedly causing nausea, headaches and other wellness issues at the Glastonbury Music festival – I’ll cover this one separately).
Lets get a basic understading of the facts first.
- 5G is the term used to identify the fifth generation of mobile phone technology – moving beyond 4G (generally Long Term Evolution (LTE)) which itself is an evolutionary change from 3G technologies which did not require telcos to completely rebuild their networks, rather just add some components to each cell site and turn it on. I know that’s a rash generalisation, but in simple terms, that’s what needed to happen for the 4G rollout and adequately explains why 4G was so quickly rolled out in comparison to 3G around the world.
- 5G radio frequencies are higher on the electromagnetic radiation scale than previous generations of mobile phone networks but still much lower than radiation we’re exposed to from numerous other sources. 5G mobile network frequencies are split into two basic bands – the lower frequencies which are within the same range of previous generations and the higher frequency band in the 26-39 GHz range.
- 5G is not just about more bandwidth/speed for consumers, it’s also about supporting a much greater density of devices – this is key for the Internet of Things (IOT) becoming pervasive – more and more small devices connecting to improve our lives in lots of different ways.
- The higher frequency and corresponding shorter wavelength has much less penetration power that longer wavelength frequencies.
- Because of the lower penetration power for (the higher frequency) 5G networks, the range of the network will be significantly reduced compared to previous generation networks. This means that a 5G network will need to have many more cells to cover the same geographic region. The distance between cell towers will be much shorter as a result.
So, should you be freaked out by 5G mobile networks or not?
The short answer is no. The long answer is that it’s complicated; long term testing of a 5G network’s effects on humans has not been conducted, so some caution should be exercised. That said, you should also consider the following:
- We are constantly exposed to EMF radiation at higher frequencies and higher power than a 5G network could ever deliver and we don’t suffer any significant consequences from that.
- As unlicensed ElectroMagnetic Field (EMF) spectrum, the 5GHz band is widely used by Wifi networks, Microwave Ovens, Refrigerators and others items around the house) – this is very close to the higher frequencies of the 5G bandwidths.
- Incidents of brain cancer have not increased in the past 20 years as mobile phones have become more and more pervasive. Experts consider brain cancer to be the most likely cancer if mobile phone usage did have a causal effect because of the proximity to the head of mobile phones when on a call – which also coincides with the maximum power output of a mobile phone – when on a call)
- Because of the weak penetration power of the 5G radio signal, it cannot penetrate more than 5-8mm beneath the skin of a person.
- 5G enabled phones have between 1-3 watts of transmission power – that’s very little power.
- EMF radiation in the tens of GHz range does have the ability to excite molecules and apply a warming effect, however because of the weak power levels a human would not be able to detect such warming of their skin or sub-dermal tissue.
- EMF below 750 THz (7.5 x 1015 HZ)does not have the power to knock electrons out of their orbits and is called non-ionising radiation. Non-ionising radiation is not considered harmful by the health community. 5G has a much lower frequency (3.9 x 1010 Hz) than this.
Don’t get freaked out by the term EMF radiation – you’re not going to grow extra eyes or get super powers!
The diagram below illustrates the EMF spectrum – from non-ionising all the way to harmful Gamma Rays (which are Ionising – do you remember that from High School – that’s when I first learned about them).
With all the paranoia surrounding the 5G rollout, I’m constantly amazed by the lack of critical thinking skills being exhibited by so many people. For instance – the alleged health impact of the 5G trail at Glastonbury. With about 10 minutes of research online – being careful of sources, it seems that BT were planning on running a 5G trail at the Glastonbury music festival in 2019. These mass gatherings provide telcos with a unique test that they cannot achieve in a lab with a handful of 5G handsets. A local committee called Villagers Against Masts (VAM) who seem to have swallowed the 5G conspiracy theories hook line and sinker petitioned the local council to prevent the 5G trial. Frightened of the bad press they would get from VAM for allowing the 5G trial, then prevented BT from running the trial. There were no reports I could find from reputable news sources that indicated anyone attending the festival suffered from headaches, nausea and other mysterious health conditions. It didn’t happen. Despite this and the fact that the 5G trial didn’t even happen, there were still memes published suggesting that the 5G trial caused all sorts of health issues for the festival goers.
So – a lack of critical thinking prevented all these conspiracy theorists from getting to the bottom of the real situation – instead they chose to accept a meme they saw on facebook or instagram as the truth.
Another instance of 5G damaging life I’ve heard of is the supposed mass bird deaths supposedly as a result of 5G. Again a little bit of research online reveals that the locations of these mass bird death events are never where there is a 5G deployment. One example given to me as “proof” was a mass bird death event that happened in the Welsh countryside at Angelsey – follow the link, you’ll see how far Angelsey is from major cities in the UK. Where do you think UK telcos are deploying 5G networks first? yep – where their customers are – in the major cities. Nowhere near Angelsey. A lack of critical thinking is preventing people from dismissing these crazy conspiracy theories with a minimal amount of thought or effort.
Amid our current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, I see the same lack of critical thinking skills being applied to 5G supposedly causing COVID-19. Radio waves cannot cause a virus to develop. Wuhan, China was not the first city in the world to have 5G coverage, in fact it’s 5G coverage is quite spotty – London, England has much more coverage than Wuhan.
Think about it:
- The virus may have started in Wuhan, but it has spread worldwide and the 5G deployments have only just begun in most countries – there is a distinct lack of a causal relationship.
- Radio waves (EMF radiation) cannot cause mutation of viruses let alone magically create viruses or damage human cells.
- The majority of COVID-19 cases in Australia find their roots in the Ruby Princess cruise ship that docked in Sydney with multiple infections – the ship does not have a 5G network aboard and did not visit cities with 5G networks prior to arriving in sydney with infected people on-board.
I see the same pattern among flat earthers, moon landing deniers, anti-vaxxers and 5G conspiracists – a lack of critical thinking and an eagerness to accept these crazy ideas because that’s all they’re getting fed within their echo chamber bubbles on social media means that these insane theories continue to circulate and continue to drag in new people who fail to exercise critical thinking.
Well – this post has gone a bit longer than I had intended. Sorry for that. All I ask that you do is to use critical thinking when you come across these crazy 5G conspiracies and encourage others to do the same.