5G, brain tumors and the town of Moraga, CA

I came across a news story about residents of Moraga, California fighting against the installation of 5G (fifth generation) cell towers in their community. You can read the whole article here: https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/04/10/plan-5g-cell-phone-towers-health-concern-moraga/

Regardless of which side you are on, this is an interesting and important discussion to have. So far, all the reports of illness caused by cell phone use have been anecdotal and not confirmed by any direct evidence. However, no one has studied the effects of high-power, multi-frequency radio waves on large populations because there is no good way of doing so. While output power is roughly the same as 4G at the towers, 5G needs a vastly higher density of distribution points. Some estimates put that at anywhere from 4 to 10 times the density. In addition, carriers are being given new frequencies so we are seeing more and more radio wave density over a broader spectrum than ever before.

The benefits to 5G speeds and bandwidth are enormous

Mobile devices will be able to talk to servers upwards of 100x faster what we have now. Plus those speeds won’t be compromised by data density. 5G is what will make autonomous vehicles possible. It will dramatically improve the wireless transmission of streaming services such as video.

Dictatorships like China and Russia WILL implement 5G and its people won’t have any say, For the free world, 5G will be subject to emotions, facts and fiction.

In the USA, it has become VERY difficult to have honest risk/reward reviews on issues of importance. Whether it’s jobs, guns, economics, vaccination, chemicals, climate or nuclear; rational and critical thinking often gets lost in a cloud of words pushed via social media. (This happens on all sides of an issue.) Plus our legal system is highly skewed towards rewarding anyone with a negative outcome with huge monetary settlements — even if there’s no proven connection between the outcome and the claimed cause. Poor Bob dies of a rare cancer so his family sues a giant chemical company because Bob used their products. The jury awards Bob’s family $100 million to “set an example” or because they feel bad about what happened to Bob — not because there was any proven connection.

Here’s a simple risk/reward scenario. Suppose your personal risk of brain tumors or cancer increases by 2% due to 5G cellular but your chance of injury or death in an auto accident goes down by 50% because we are all riding instead of driving ourselves. Further, your personal productivity goes up by 10%. Are those trade-offs worth it? (Yes, I just made those numbers up.)

I honestly don’t know where the USA will end up. It will be interesting if towns like Moraga say no (or are able to say no) to 5G. Carriers may simply respond by not offering any data coverage in those towns. BUT if autonomous vehicles depend on those connections, will that mean they won’t operate in Moraga either? Is this a justified form of NIMBYism?

Many experts believe that 4G nuclear power plants will save the planet from CO2 and  can operate in virtual 100% safety. Yet in the USA, anything discussion that smacks of nuclear is often immediately shutdown regardless of the risks/rewards it offers.

In just the last 10 years, social media has virtually eliminated the possibility in most of its user’s minds that there are gray areas in discussions, opinions and positions. Whether politics or science, you are either completely right or completely wrong.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

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