A global pandemic is the worst thing ever for most of us Brits. Regardlesss of where we work, how old we are or where abouts in the UK we live. As we have happened to be the 2nd most hard hit (at least according to official statistics), only behind the USA, whom have a much larger and less dense population. Without even a lockdown in some areas…
However there are maybe a couple of odd workers there and about who are not having such a bad time. Such as those working in construction. Obviously they would be extremely worried, and would be having to take precautions the best they can, to reduce the scale of the immense risk they are putting themselves at. Nevertheless they’re far less exposed compared to other front line workers like obviously healthcare, not to mention those who work in shops and some teachers for that matter… And I expect that many of them are grateful that their job is still needed.
Meanwhile many working in the information technology industry may be still be receiving pay, due to being able to work from home. And this is a positive, for them (duh), and really for us too.
None the less, when you pick the right branch off from each industry, and place them into a saucepan, immense danger may boil. Now you may be thinking, what on earth is she on about. But in these last few weeks, around the UK construction workers have been putting up these 5G masts.
And because of this, many concerns have arisen- leading to people going to extreme measures to protest…. Such as burning these down, and taking to the streets…
So to start with, what actually is everyone’s problem with 5G? Whilst some are worried about the health and environmental impact, some about security reasons while others think it may cause coronavirus.
But before I begin stating some of the main concerns, I shall quote some really fascinating facts and figures about 5G. All of which I understand extremely well, and I could go on a lot longer; providing you with immense amounts of background knowledge… Yeah, but I am sure that I am not the only one who has (or had) little, if any understanding about how these things work. However I feel just a bit of background information may just help us (and me) understand why some are so against 5G, while others believe this will work wonders.
First, 5G will “be the first G introduced in the market with +100% penetration” meaning it will be around everyone, anywhere you go (source, Elenaneira.com). It will support “100x more devices” with “1000x the date volume” (source, marketscale.com). This however means that the frequency of radiation will be 10x greater than the frequency of 4G. Nonetheless this doesn’t seem like a threat, as this would sit between the weaker radio-waves and the stronger micro-waves along the electromagnetic spectrum. And whilst 4G is much weaker, microwaves, and in-act the much stronger visible light plus radiation emitted from a TV control are still non-ionising. But the increased frequency of the radiation does explain the arising of many new masts going up, as the distance between previous is not a satisfactory amount and wouldn’t be able to come with transmitting these greater frequencies. And one more cool fact is that somehow the radiation from 5G will travel in a specific direction to reach exactly what it needs to reach, rather than “going all over the place” like 4G, and to make this more efficient many of these old useless masts which were previously getting in the way (think 1 and 2G) will be removed. Oh, and all the “G’s” mean this data and stuff can travel vie air rather than via wire, which was once how all information would travel. Now I expect that I sound like a waffling politician, trying to explain science… But there is a very informative video on YouTube, which explains the scientific background, infinite times more consise than I ever could- Just type in “the truth about 5G” under “real engineering”, then the video should come up!
While 5G does have some advantages; being 10 times faster than 4G, making it possible to “download a full length film in just seconds.” As well as the capacity to “transform cities”, and even making it possible for a bridge to give a physical signal if it needs repairing. And microchips of it around the house… Though I can’t shake off the thought of immense amounts of light which may radiate out of all our potholes! Still, I don’t see why this would mean the government would immediately act on repairs… So in a way, is this just a waste of time, money and resources? Is it a potential threat to human civilisation, as it could potentially enable technology to rise above us in power and intelligence, making us a little redundant. And what if this all gets in the wrong hands? I can definitely see why some people are hugely in favour of this, as it also has the potential to enhance production of medic equipment and drugs. Plus just imagine what further advances could spring out from this! But this won’t cause any concerns to fade away.
But what exactly are the concerns, and how much truth lays behind them?
1. Health concerns
So chances are, my family were a bit odd- but I remember as a young child, being told not to put a mobile phone right to my ear. This was due what I thought were “large” amounts of radiation this emitted, but that would have been nothing compared to what is happening with 5G. So according to RadiationHealthRisks.com, “1G, 2G, 3G and 4G use between 1-5 gigahertz of frequency, meanwhile “5G uses 24-90” gigahertz. Now reading this, it seems like a hummongeous difference at least, while the more obserbent may have also noted that it is a very vast range. Now to many, this can feel very disconcerting- suggesting little certainty and prediction of the effects and dangers this 5G could bring about. But what on earth does this really mean?
The Federal radio commission, stated that “the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.” And while this sounds promising, and that ultimately putting this all into perspective,, this amount of radiation still isn’t harmful, there is no guarantee. Mean while the World Health Organisation classified 5G as being “possibly carcinogenic to humans”- meaning this could possibly cause cancer. Whilst 5G supporters bite back, stating that the WHO almost says “everything causes cancer”, due to putting this in the same class as caffeine. Yet this doesn’t leave me feeling at all reassured. Like we all associate caffeine as being in a cup of tea or coffee, nevertheless we know that caffeine in huge doses is harmful- to the point where even energy drinks have been banned for under 16 year olds. And we don’t really know how high the dose of radiation will be, thus we don’t know if this will effect us. While although this radiation may be non-ionising, when there is so so much of it, we are not really certain how much danger it could cause. And although most of us have microwaves in our homes, we don’t exactly get them on every street corner, acting as if they’re cooking something, but with their doors open…
2. Environmental concerns
Firstly it is possible that the infrastructure used to work with 5G could consume as much as 3 times more energy. While the latest figures from GSM association shows the telecoms industry currently consumes about 3% of energy, but chief executive at Ranplan Wireless says “the onset and rollout of 5G globally could result in a potential increase in data traffic of up to 1000 times”. Now anyone can see how this is a shocking amount, and the environmental effects could be detrimental. Whilst there is little circulating knowledge about the potential extent of which 5G could take over, having the power to “transform cities” sounds extremely disconcerting to me- suggesting that the addition of 5G could use an awful lot of energy. Meanwhile the website “5G crisis” states that “the communications industry could use 20% of all world’s electricity by 2025”. Expressing concerns that this would undermine climate change targets like the aim for an eventually carbon neutral environment.
Albeit of the potential gains of this, if this adds to slowing any target of climate change goals, then surly now is not the right time to have this. With Climate change pressure group, Extinction Rebellion pairing with the “stop 5G campaign” who aims to “expose the dangers in the roll out of 5G”, proves how this is an immense concern among many climate change activists (source, GloucesterLive).
3. Security reasons
raconteur.net states that 5G “poses an elevated security threat mainly partly because there are more vectors through which adversaries can attack.” Moreover 94% of telecoms operators and industry experts are worried about the risks that 5G could pose on security. The website states too that 5G will enable smart cities and fast driving cars “seeing 5G networks underpinning cities and self driving cars.” If 5G networks are enabling these applications, they are interfered with or shut off, it could result in a hacker shutting off a city’s water supply or somebody “gaining access to an army of delivery drones”. This kind of proves that the implication of 5G could be very risky, for various reasons, and there may be a lower sense of security. However in some ways, 5G may improve the security being “more secure than 3G and 4G.” Chief technologist, at world wide technology, Daniel Valle quotes that “f the ecosystem addresses the issues, the technology will be more secure due to better encryption than 3G and 4G.” adding that “Each evolution is more secure than its predecessor and that doesn’t change with 5G.” Whilst 5G should enable mobile operators to offer security insights to business.” Now if you are a bit like me, really you will have no clue what this really means. And while we may be excited about the prospect about “virtual cities”, all of this kind of goes above my head…
4. “Other threats to human life”
So with the possibility of this increasing the number of self driving cars on the road, as well as enabling more automated manufacturing of goods, this may lead to jobs in certain industries to eventually be lost forever. As this may in time enable big, monopoly like corporations to buy up these technologies (or some may already be inbuilt), on order to benefit from lower average costs, without having to be paying as many workers to carry out the same job. This in tern leads to higher profits, while higher unemployment. While it is very unclear that this would be the intention, and it is possibly this may create new jobs in new fields…
5. The corona-virus conspiricy
So a few weeks ago, a rumour and conspiracy theory was arising that the building of 5G was linked to the Coronavirus pandemic. This theory was then endorsed by many well known names including Amanda Holden, Woody Harrelson and boxer Amir Khan. This was arose from the belief that 5G began in Wohang, the same place as we knew where the coronavirus most likely begun spreading. Now this seems like a harmless conspiracy theory, nevertheless it is apperient that it’s lead to many people in the UK protesting. This includes abuse of 5G key workers, arson attacks and attempts to damage the uprising infrastructure.
In London near westminister bridge, an “anti-lockdown” protest was held, where there was believed to be “some mention of 5G” leading to 14 people being arrested (source, the Express). While 22 EE phone masts were attacked, just over Easter, by “attempting to set fire” to them (source, inews.co.uk). However some of these protests have been completely undestructive, such as the “plot” to “make a noise” by “turning off smartphones, tablets and personal computers”; as the page stated they needed to be “heard silently” (source, the independent).
This has not just been apperient in England, but there have been protests against the 5G in many countries, including in Australia. This has led to Australia’s chief doctor, Professor Brendon Murphy, to speak out stating that the protest was as a result off “a lot of very silly misinformation”, reassuring that “there is absolutely no evidence about 5G doing anything in the coronavirus space.” Also aligned with the view of what many of us may contain, he understands that “people have the right to protest” but “they should be held to account” if they are “breaching the social distancing rules.”
Therefore while we can see that 5G does pose genuine possible threats to the world we are living, generally to do with health, and environmental reasons, many people are opposing 5G for far fetched, untrue reasons. With multiple conspiracy theories about this, as well as just the recent one on the link to Coronavirus; including a claim that “5G was killing birds in Holland”, these theories often tend to appeal to “flat earthers.” In a way this is a shame, because the logic and the behaviour of some of these opposing 5G makes the argument against it seem a lot weaker. While the general public are just going to think there is “nothing to worry about.” Which may be true, but unfortunately to me, all these powers of 5G do seem a little overwhelming. Especially considering the little certainty surrounding it. Oh, and how many of these masts have been constructed during the coronavirus lockdown in the UK. I cant help but feel that this is a little squiffy. Nonetheless technology already holds so much power which is far beyond my understanding. And for hundreds, if not thousands of years, technology has provided us with so many advances, nevertheless has posed risks. Therefore do we really need to be worrying about 5G specifically?
Also is this really what our world needs at the moment. Despite their potential benefits: including being predicted to be 10-100 times faster at transferring data, being more responsive and with the ability to transfer hospitals, warehouses and even entire cities, surly it is more important to invest to ensure that our world is a safer and more equal place for everyone. And although the conspiracy theory between perhaps there is a hidden element of truth in this after all. As surly the coronavirus will hopefully teach us to be more hygienic, not to prioritise profits over healthcare and to consider risks sooner- to avoid such a pandemic. And what could this 5G potentially cause? So maybe 5G could potentially be very beneficial to us. Yet to me at least, it seems possible side effects are very vague, and there’s not complete certainty about how safe this would be. In many ways. Therefore maybe more research prior to the development would be necessary, or more genuine scrutiny by public bodies.