An Electronic Silent Spring-December, 2016 Newsletter

An Electronic Silent Spring – December, 2016 Newsletter from Katie Singer

An Electronic Silent Spring 
December, 2016 Newsletter from Katie Singer

This newsletter is packed with Healthy Acts from We the People!

Electricity = an average of 41 servants per household
On National Public Radio recently, astrophysicist Adam Frank explained that the average household uses 1000 kW hours of electricity per month. One person pedaling a bike-powered generator eight hours per day for 30 days can generate 24 kW hours. Therefore, to power an average home by bike-pedaling, you’d need 41 people, each pedaling eight hours per day.

Dr. Frank explained that with oil and coal, we now have enormous energy at our fingertips–and the equivalent of 40 servants.

Is this accurate? Servants get paid. There is some kind of reciprocity. But the Earth is not our servant; and mining oil, coal and gas damages the Earth irreparably. Further, fossil fuel emissions generate Co2. Manufacturing equipment for most solar arrays and wind turbines requires significant energy and chemically purified water; and solar and wind systems harm migratory birds.

Meanwhile, we continue to expand the Internet, the largest thing humanity has built. Running the Internet might require eight billion people pedaling every day. To get informed about how “The Cloud Begins with Coal” and what you can do to decrease your electronic footprint, please read the excellent papers by Mark Mills, Kris DeDecker and Mike Hazas.

An overview about cellular antennas
To date, telecom corporations have primarily installed cellular antennas on private property. Now, telecoms make lease agreements with municipalities to deploy antennas on public right-of-ways (PROWs)–i.e. utility poles.

In some communities, “small cells” on PROWs are being installed without public notice.

In Santa Fe, NM, Mobilitie (which also does business as Broadband Network of New Mexico) has proposed an agreement with the city to install antennas on PROWS as they deem fit for 25 years, automatically renewable for another 25 years. Because Mobilitie is a wholesaler, it may not be subject to paying the city any taxes for PROW access. This proposal was discovered via a freedom of information act request. Are similar agreements being negotiated in other municipalities?

For telecoms to access PROWs, city and state legislatures must pass supportive ordinances. How/can a municipality retain local authority over antenna placement? Most municipalities do not have legal or engineering expertise about telecommunications. Most telecoms are well-funded with lawyers and engineers.

I have heard of two firms that consult to municipalities to help them maintain as much local authority over antenna placement as possible: Harriet Steiner at BBK (in Sacramento) and the Center for Municipal Solutions (based in NY). Fyi, these firms may focus on how antennas can disturb a community’s aesthetics.

In any case, municipalities and parent and neighborhood groups concerned about maintaining local authority over antenna placement increasingly need help from people with expertise in telecom rules and regulations.

Response re Century Link’s proposal to “sunset” landlines
Thanks to everyone who tried to send a Comment to the FCC about Century Link’s proposal. In addition to the concerns I noted, people wrote that
* many senior citizens simply have not adapted to wireless devices. Maine’s AARP has alerted citizens wanting to protect landline telephone service that the state’s Public Utilities Commission is now considering a phone company’s proposal to eliminate landline service in more Maine towns.
* wireless services do not work in areas with rolling hills.
* when the Internet slows to a crawl or crashes and major websites are inaccessible for several hours, businesses shut down. Phones and emails that depend on voice over Internet protocols (VOIPs such as Skype or Uverse) cannot work. Businesses therefore need to maintain copper legacy landlines, which operate independently of the Internet–and fax machines.
* Also, the correct url for SaveLandlines is

Healthy Acts from and for We the People 
* Since Oakland Unity and Monte del Sol, high schools in California and New Mexico, banned cell phones (including during lunch and hallway breaks) students now face their teachers and talk with each other. A 2015 paper from the U. of Texas and Louisiana State U. shows that such bans increase students’ test scores by 6%.
* Remember Sex Ed and Driver’s Ed? In Illinois, Shari Calarco has begun teaching Device Ed to middle and high schoolers. “A mobile phone can connect you to the world,” Calarco tells students. “It’s a lot of fun. But it can also kill you.” When she asks, “Why was airplane mode invented? some students already know: to keep phones from interfering with a plane’s avionics. Then Calarco asks, “Do you want something that can interfere with an airplane near your testicles?”
“Ohhh,” students realized. “You mean we shouldn’t make my pants pocket a hot spot? Why didn’t anyone tell us this before?”
* The Environmental Health Trust posts great, downloadable materials, including informative postcards (Save the Girls/Make Your Bra a No Cell Phone Zone and Save the Boys) and fliers (“10 Medical Rules for Safer Use of Mobile Phones” and “Wi-Fi in Schools FAQ”). #PracticeSafeTech
* Community Rights. Watch “We the People 2.0,” a new documentary by Leila Conners and Matthew Schmid that shows how laypeople have protected their communities from fracking, toxic sludge and more. The companion book, We the People  Stories from the Community Rights Movement in the U.S. by Tom Linzey and Anneke Campbell, includes ordinances from Pittsburg, PA and other communities.
* Kevin Mottus, lobbyist with the California Brain Tumor Association, says that if you want to inform the people who decide telecom laws, put on your best suit and manners and go to Congress and the FCC. While legislators and commissioners walk to the bathroom or the parking lot, introduce yourself–and give a succinct speech about wireless tech hazards.
* The Collaborative on Health and the Environment has launched a new website. It presents the latest research and analysis about the relationship between EMR exposures and disease, recorded presentations with leading researchers, a calendar of relevant conferences and more.
* Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund launched a campaign on Nov. 28, 2016 to set aside proceeds from the auction of public TV station licenses to strengthen local journalism and community-information projects.
* Say a utility plans to deploy “smart” meters, a telecom plans to install cellular antennas on school rooftops or a lighting company still makes fluorescent bulbs with mercury. If you own at least $2000 worth of the corporation’s stock, you can vote on proxies, team up with the company’s other shareholders and negotiate with the corporation’s board for safer options. People may come to agreement before a shareholder resolution is necessary. Would informed shareholders vote to maintain landlines? to prevent “smart” meters? to make safer lightbulbs? to reverse a board’s decision?
* Man-made “wind trees” will make it possible to power homes via turbines.

* Apple recently began recommending iPhone users to use a headset and carry the device at least 5 mm away from the body.
* Smartphones and tablets in bedrooms disrupt sleep even when switched off .
* Why light bulbs may be the next hacker target.
* Stop the Verde Transmission Line from Espanola to Santa Fe with proposed 120ft tall poles every 800 feet or less. Submit your comments in writing to the Bureau of Land management by January 5, 2017 via email at or by mail: BLM, Verde Transmission Line Project, POB 27115, Santa Fe, NM  87502-0115. For more info, visit

“Smart” meter news:
* In Illinois, ComEd has: notified ratepayers that it will petition the ICC to open a proceeding to explore the development of a remedy to permanently address those customers who may wish to continue to refuse the “smart” meter. Could this pave the way for a permanent opt out in Illinois?
*’s video, “How to Make a Smart Meter Cover,” shows how to reduce your exposure to a smart meter’s radiofrequency emissions with aluminum mesh, duct tape and copper wire. It may not reduce risks to fire, hacking or “dirty” power, but if you have a “smart” meter, this is a worthwhile, do-able project.
* In New Mexico, PNM has reopened its case to deploy “smart” meters. The public hearing is schedule for Feb. 27 from 9am-1pm in the PERA building in Santa Fe. Each person will be allowed three minutes. Testimony (from groups that filed last summer) will begin after that and is expected to last for several days. To get informed (before you get a “smart” meter on your home, watch “Take Back Your Power”–with neighbors and friends. I also have DVDs.

Want a grounded introduction to health, environmental and legal issues related to electronic technologies?  Read An Electronic Silent Spring.  If you’d like ten or more copies, I can pass on the discount that my publisher extends to me. This translates to a 30 – 35% discount from the cover price ($18), including shipping. To order, please contact me directly: katie  @  katiesinger.  com

Will you help this newsletter continue? It depends entirely on readers’ contributions. I’m also completing papers on safer tech use in schools, “smart” meter fires and how digital technologies impact climate change.

If you’d like a tax deduction for your donation, address your check to EMR Policy Inst., POB 117, Marshfield, VT  05658; Tax ID 30-0198811; 802.426.3035. Please write “E Silent Spring News” in the memo portion of your check. Thank You!

Thanks to everyone who uses electronics as safely as possible, reduces their energy use and EMR emmissions.

To healthier ecosystems and communities,
Katie Singer


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