Most people don’t want to talk about the negative aspects of cell phones. Now that the majority of people have a smart phone and have integrated this technology into every aspect of their life, they prefer to put any lingering qualms about them into a small compartment in the back of their brain and forget about it. In this respect, cell phones and smart phones are not any different from all the other technologies that have so radically altered human societies over the past century and a half. Whether it’s the automobile, telephone, radio, television, or computer, the shadow side of these technologies-including their environmental, biological , and social costs- is shunted aside in the race to adopt the ‘new’ and embrace ‘progress.’
Not since the advent of television has any new technology done more to destroy interpersonal communication and dumb down the populace as the cell phone. From couples no longer even bothering to talk to each other at restaurants, to parents ignoring their children at the dinner table while answering emails , to friends interrupting each other to check a text, to lovers answering text messages while having sex, the examples are legion.
Beyond the social and intellectual costs of our cell phone mad world, there are very real and increasing quantifiable health costs. Again, people choose not to look at this, thinking that the health effects will be something they can deal with ‘in the future’, and that , besides, even if there are dangers, having a smart phone is too important to give up, whatever the costs.
Travel through any major city today and observe the skyline and what is the overwhelming dominant feature that one sees? Cell phone towers- thousands of them. Cell phone mania has swept the world and proliferation of these towers is seen in every city in South America, North America, Asia, and Europe. Increasingly, they are dotting the rural landscape as well. Formerly untouched and pristine mountaintops and hillsides are now sites for huge cell phone towers, forever blighting the once beautiful vistas of the countryside in places like Ecuador, for example.
In the Southeast Asian city where I live, thousands of cell towers dot the skyline, with an average of at least one every other block. Completely unregulated, the cell companies erect them as fast as they can, renting cheap space on top of peoples’ homes, hotels, commercial businesses, churches and schools. The people who live and work in these buildings take the easy money from the cellular carriers and willfully ignore the potentially serious health consequences from living under one of these towers. Looking out from my bedroom window, I count four towers which are close enough for me to throw a stone at.
cell tower, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A number of countries, mostly in Europe, recognizing the inherent dangers in wifi, have taken steps to ban wifi in schools and severely limit the installation of towers nearby. Here in Asia, governments have been slower to recognize the danger , and schools are rushing to install wifi. I once stood in the middle of a school courtyard and counted 3 towers on adjacent blocks.
Modern humans are now living in an ocean of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Cell phone radiation is one form of electromagnetic radiation. For anyone who wishes to learn how cell phones were first allowed into the consumer market, it is worth reading the story online. Basically, the manufacturers presented studies to the government authorities stating that, because there were no thermal (heating) effects from the microwaves , there could therefore be no adverse biological effects. The government accepted the flawed argument, gave the green light, and the cell phone explosion was upon us.
Typical view looking across the skyline, showing 3 towers, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Cell phone radiation can’t be seen, felt, touched, heard or sensed, and so most people assume that it’s harmless. However, there are indeed severe biological consequences. One of the many adverse effects of EMR is on the production of melatonin. Studies have shown that EMR from cell phones inhibits the production of melatonin from the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin regulates the sleep cycle and is also responsible for cellular rejuvenation and repair during the deep REM sleep between 1am and 4am.
Some other adverse effects include: increased chance of developing brain cancer, leakage of the blood-brain barrier, decreased sperm count in men, increased estrogen levels (and hence, hormonal balance disruption) , fatigue, depression, and headaches.
When I point the cell towers and ask my students, “What are those?” , they are never able to tell me. Nobody had ever pointed them out before, and they consider them part of the natural landscape now, just like chemtrails in the skies. Girls and young women, from 10 to 40 -years- old, now keep their charged and wifi- enabled smart phones wedged tightly into the front pocket of their bluejeans, snug against their reproductive organs. I inform them that if they someday want to have healthy babies, they might want to store their phone elsewhere. That usually gets their attention.