[this is one of the energycanaries.blogspot.com posts]
If a toddler girl is throwing a temper tantrum at bedtime insisting that she must take the clock-radio to bed with her and that she wants it to be under her pillow or directly beside her head or hugged like a teddy bear and it must remain plugged in to the electrical outlet, simply as-is not with the radio on, would a parent agree to that? Even if there seems no way to stop this tantrum, a parent would never allow such an hours-long close encounter with the clock-radio to happen. I know it seems as though no explanation of the “why not” is necessary, that it’s simply commonsense, but just think about it for a moment. WHY NOT? It isn’t “just because.” Think about it. Think about what it is that makes it commonsense. At the root of it, it’s because (a) it’s a machine so it isn’t passive, it can DO things, and (b) it uses electricity and electricity is this invisible thing that is dangerous if you touch it or go too close to it, and it can even severely permanently injure you or kill you quite easily if you touch it. Electricians, doctors, and other experts consciously know and act in respect of these hazards and facts every day; others of us know these things by commonsense; others of us seem to have forgotten these hazards and facts; and others of us, I suppose, only know the reality of machines and electricity being commonplace and therefore assume there is no hazard because experts and those of us with the knowledge and commonsense haven’t shared it often enough.
Machines and electricity have been around so long now that generations and generations have come and gone, and nowadays we see and are surrounded by so many machines and electricity throughout every day and night. The centuries-old commonsense reasons to respect the inherent hazards of machines and electricity have not gone away. If we think about it, the long-standing commonsense reasons to not have constant and/or close encounters with cell phones, wifi routers, cordless phones, tablet computers, laptops, baby monitors, hair dryers, microwave ovens, a table lamp, keeping babies’ fingers out of electrical outlets, and so on should be enough to in fact avoid these constant and/or close encounters. Anything that is a machine and as well anything that runs on wired or portable electrical power DOES come along with those risks that we’re aware of by knowledge or commonsense. Certainly we make choices about our risks, for example, cars are machines and they use electrical power; and cars can kill and yet so many of us do choose to drive them.
Ahh, but there are CLEARLY publicized laws, rules, and instructions about driving cars so that there is a reduced risk of harm to yourself as a driver, to other drivers, and to anyone who is not driving. And these laws, rules, and instructions are monitored, changed from time to time, and enforced—including serious penalties against drivers who do not obey laws and against drivers who harm other drivers or harm people who aren’t driving. There are also enforced laws and rules applicable to manufacturers of cars. There are also laws and rules regarding the by-products or emissions that occur when a car is operated; similarly, those emissions are monitored, changed from time to time, and limits are enforced—with various penalties when emission and operation standards are exceeded. These laws, rules, and instructions exist because health and safety of individuals and the public is a priority; and generally, these laws, rules, and instructions change when there is new or varying concern regarding health and safety of individuals or the public—not when car manufacturers and fuel producers want changes so that their profits will increase. Laws, rules, and instructions for cars and drivers don’t apply only while driving. They also apply to stopped cars, parked cars, abandoned cars, wherever. If your neighbour habitually parked his car with the open end of the car’s exhaust pipe positioned directly beside a window or door of your home and your home was always filling with fumes, you could probably ask your neighbour to stop doing that, and he probably would apologize as most people are kind and certainly don’t intend to harm anyone, and he probably would stop doing it by parking his car differently. I don’t know the letter of the law—I suppose that if your neighbour refused to make this change, because our homes by law are actually supposed to be not airtight, and if these fumes continued to be overwhelming, you would have some recourse perhaps by police or other legal intervention to put a halt to these fumes polluting your home. Again here you’ve got commonsense coming into play: no one really has to explain why fumes are unwanted. Again to go back as to why we have this commonsense knowing that polluting fumes are bad, it’s that (a) they might smell or look very unpleasant, and (b) regardless whether or not they have a smell or are visible at all, exposure to air pollutants can cause ill health right then and there or in the future.
The up-close and personal habits that people have adopted with their electronic machines—wired or wireless, stationary or portable—don’t make sense. Somewhere along the way, commonsense was thrown out the window. Point one: these are machines. Point two: these machines operate using electricity.
I said earlier that the centuries-old commonsense reasons to respect the inherent hazards of machines and electricity have not gone away. There is however something that HAS changed: the hazards have increased, in a number of ways. Nowadays, we’re touching and near so many, many more machines and so many more sources of electricity. And we’re doing that continually throughout our entire lives during the entire 24-hour cycle every day and again the next day and the next; in fact, these exposures start before we’re born, in fact, even before we’re conceived because genetic material from parents that becomes an embryo has been similarly exposed non-stop.
And all the above is before you add into consideration all the other electromagnetic fields flung everywhere throughout every size of airspace indoors and outdoors and as well into every nook and cranny in case there’s a machine there that wants to communicate wirelessly with another machine somewhere nearby or anywhere else on the planet. Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are a type of radiation; and EMFs are everywhere in our 21st-century air. EMFs aren’t gentle, thin, invisible threads harmlessly winding their way from a wifi router in the house, or from a DECT cordless phone, or from a cell phone that’s on, or from a baby monitor, or a rooftop antenna 200 metres or 5 kilometres away and detouring around people and plants and animals in order to gently touch another machine (big or small); you’re always enveloped by a never-ending explosion of this radiation and this radiation explosion is constantly travelling through your skin and into the inside of your body and brain where the cells throughout your body and brain react to this radiation in ways that they wouldn’t react if it wasn’t there.
It is jaw-droppingly astonishing whenever anyone in authority suggests that these machines and electromagnetic fields that we interact with are benign and needn’t be avoided or at the very least handled with caution. Who is it that we need to teach or remind about this commonsense about the hazards of machines and electricity so that we stop harming you, me, and everyone else present and future?