Putting conspiracy theories to the vote

Inspired by the success of the No HST campaign that saw British Columbians of all stripes push back against a government bent on implementing policies against the popular will of the people an with no mandate, some fear mongers are hoping to repeat that success in the hopes of banning smart meters.

I almost want them to succeed in getting enough signatures so that we can really put this to a vote and we can have a clear demonstration of how intelligent our province really is. Although, I’m not quite willing to risk it against the ability of a vocal minority of quacks to sway a large number of people.

What’s more disappointing than the attempt to get a petition going is NDP energy critic and past leadership candidate John Horgan’s position

Meanwhile, NDP energy critic John Horgan plans to present another petition against smart meters, called Occupy Smart Meters, in the legislature. Horgan did not respond to Straight messages by deadline.

The Straight also notes that BC Hydro’s smart meter program spokesperson didn’t respond to calls by deadline, which makes me wonder how quickly they pushed this story through. Regardless, Horgan and the NDP’s position (further elucidated on Horgan’s website) may be one of criticizing the costs and heavy-handed implementation rather than unfounded technophobia.

I sent the following to Horgan and BC NDP leader Adrian Dix just to be sure:

Dear John Horgan,
On your website you posted an article about the BC NDP’s opposition to BC Hydro’s Smart Meter Program [1] and on the Georgia Straight’s website on November 24th you are mentioned as planning to present a petition in the legislature on behalf of a group called "Occupy Smart Meters" [2,3].
While I personally am not informed enough to know whether Smart Meters will provide the promised benefits touted by BC Hydro and the BC Liberal government, I am very wary of groups that making spurious claims about the deleterious effects of the wireless radiation emitted by these meters. Specifically, the StopSmartMeters.ca website makes the following claims [4]:

(3) No Health Protection

In May 2011, electromagnetic radiation (EMR) such as that emitted from a smart meter was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Class 2b carcinogen. This places everyday levels of EMR exposure in the same category as lead, dioxins and DDT. The IARC is a research wing of the World Health Organization.

BC Hydro’s assertion that the microwave radiation emitted by smart meters is well below the level set out in Health Canada’s Safety Code 6, is both deceptive and dangerous to public health. It allows for levels of exposure many thousands of times higher than what independent and peer-reviewed medical research dating back 35 years has clearly shown to be harmful. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) causes quantifiable and significant disruption and damage to human biological systems as well as all other animals, insects and plants. Furthermore, up to 5% of the population is officially recognized by the Canadian Human Rights Commission as suffering from Electro Hypersensitivity (EHS), a condition that can make people very sick or debilitated. Almost ALL of us are affected by this radiation. We just don’t realize it yet.

While their website fails to reference a single one of any of these extraordinary claims, most have been thoroughly debunked. Specifically:

  1. The list of IARC Group 2B carcinogens also contains coffee and pickles [4] and the contrast with lead and DDT is dishonest scare mongering. While research is ongoing, what exists either discounts links between EMF and cancer or are methodologically weak [5]. No mechanism has been proposed to account for how EMF could cause cancer, which is reason enough to be skeptical of those claiming such effects.
  2. Without reference to their 35 year old research, their claim that Health Canada’s current recommendations are invalid is spurious at best and hypocritically deceptive at worst.
  3. They provide no evidence or links to studies that EMR causes damage at the power, wavelength, or energy present in smart meters or other wireless technologies. The World Health Organization concluded in 2005: "The limited number of published studies addressing the risk of EMF to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems show little or no evidence of a significant environmental impact." [6]
  4. Electrohypersensitivity is not a recognized medical condition and is soundly discredited by independent blinded studies. The fact they refer to the Canadian Human Rights Commission rather than any medical organization already makes their claim suspect. On EHS, the World Health Organization states: "The majority of studies indicate that EHS individuals cannot detect EMF exposure any more accurately than non-EHS individuals. Well controlled and conducted double-blind studies have shown that symptoms were not correlated with EMF exposure." [7]

My concern, Mr. Horgan, is that you and the BC NDP might be abandoning policy based on real scientific evidence in favour of pseudo-scientific fear-mongering. Can you please let me know if you and the BC NDP are still a party that aims to use evidence to guide public policy?


Ian Bushfield
YND Representative, Vancouver Point Grey NDP Constituency Association
President, BC Humanist Association http://bchumanist.ca
MSc. Physics Student at SFU

[1] http://www.johnhorgan.ca/news/news-releases/delay-smart-meter-program-until-full-review-bc-utilities-commission-says-official
[2] http://www.straight.com/article-546641/vancouver/activists-set-sights-smart-meters
[3] https://cstorg.wufoo.com/forms/q7x3s5/
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_IARC_Group_2B_carcinogens
[5] http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2011/05/31/who-verdict-on-mobile-phones-and-cancer/
[6] http://www.who.int/peh-emf/publications/facts/envimpactemf_infosheet.pdf
[7] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs296/en/

6 thoughts on “Putting conspiracy theories to the vote”

  1. I have 10 hours place a day for much of the last year searching for peer reviewed articles on the topic. I have a collection of literally thousands of articles from military sources and peer reviewed showing there are a host of problems with the proliferation of emf radiation in the environment.
    The Swiss government issued a 60 page document to their citizens in the document they stated ”The negative impacts of intensive non-ionising radiation on our health have been scientifically established and are undisputed, but with the exception of workplace accidents, people are never exposed to such high levels of radiation. However, biological effects also occur at levels well below internationally recommended hazard thresholds.”
    It should also be noted that the Canadian/US standards are much less stringent than the Swiss -ours have the distinction of being the most lax in the world.
    I have experienced the harm that this radiation can do, the epidemic have health issues that will start to occur in about 10 years time is frightening.
    Remember the military in many countries has researched and possibly used the radiation as a non lethal weapon (a non lethal weapon is one that does not kill immediately – no consideration if it kills 10 or more years down the road.

    1. First line should have read I have 10 hours spent a day for much of the last year searching for peer

    2. To be technically accurate I believe those ‘radiation’ weapons they were (and still are) researching were based around Terahertz wave technologies (also called millimeter wave) – a version of the same new scanning equipment in airports that can look through your clothes and spot even non-metalic weapons. Just to be clear – the energy levels of this electromagnetic radiation – not radiation of the alpha/beta nuclear radiation that is so destructive, is not high enough to be ionising. Therefore it doesn’t disrupt molecules and doesn’t not create mistakes in your DNA – which is what leads to long term effects such as cancer. These beams produce heating effects with a low penetration level – so it causes agonizing pain but very little physical damage and no long term effects – except of course if you’re trapped in the beam – in which case it could theoretically cause burns and eventually death – but unlikely in basic crowd control scenarios.

  2. There is a company called Gaiacomm international that has the terahertz phone. Since 2007….in fact no harm to humans than any other frequency. This is yet another ploy to put fear in the ignorant and misinformed.

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