15 December 2010

Green MP uses abuse rather than debate

What happens when you challenge the co-leader of the Green Party in one of his blog posts?

He resorts to name calling.

Take this thread, where Russel Norman gets hysterical about cellphone towers, with scaremongering about them being near children's bedrooms etc.

The bogey is non-ionising radiation, and of course the Greens have decided the target on this one are cellphone towers which are commissioned by another bogey - evil privately owned telecommunications corporations (oh if only it was the Post Office, we'd still be testing to see if cellphones are safe or we'd have our own bespoke system with no roaming to rip people off when overseas).   Russel even claims the group of bureaucrats and industry representatives involved in setting standards for such things was:

another committee dominated by industry and government departments with one health professional. A group dominated by those trying to reduce costs for telcos.

So a conspiracy of those who don't believe the pseudo-science. Playing the ball not the people again.   If these people don't take it seriously then it must be vested interest, rather than being wrong.

Now let's be clear.  I do think there can be issues with continuous high concentrations of non-ionising radiation from sources like cellphones or laptops.   There is some evidence around very high volumes of cellphone use and effects on tissues that frankly tell me just to be cautious.  However it is about handsets NOT transmitter towers.

Why?  Well humanity has been testing non-ionising radio transmitters since the 1920s, and at transmission power many many many times that of any cellphone tower.  West Auckland has been bathed in high powered TV transmissions from Waiatarua since the 1960s, as has Khandallah and Johnsonville in Wellington from Kaukau.

So I wrote:

Suggest you shut down the AM transmitters for National Radio, the AM Network and Newstalk ZB in Titahi Bay since they have been transmitting non-ionising radiation blanketing Porirua City at levels of over 100x the strength of cellphone transmitters since the 1940s. Mt Victoria has had radio transmitters on it for some years as well, and then Khandallah and Johnsonville have had nearly 50 years of Kaukau blanketing them. 

I have a friend who was part of a detailed study into levels of non-ionising radiation in Australia. A group of unscientific cellphone site phobics demanded readings be made in one town, and it was found the local TV transmitter on the hill exposed residents to much more continuous exposure at higher volumes than those who would live within a radius of the cellsite. She told them the TV transmitter and local FM radio stations would need to be closed first before removing cellsites – naturally there was an outrage and people couldn’t stand losing TV and radio.

However, don’t let science and the fact that human beings have been bombarding each other with high levels of non-ionising radiation for a couple of generations get in the way of renewing scaremongering over something that hasn’t been remotely demonstrated to be dangerous to human health. Don’t confuse it with the issue of cellphone handset exposure to brains, which does have some merit as an issue (as people haven’t been doing that).

I’m amazed you haven’t jumped on cordless phones at the home, wifi base stations at home, electric blankets (sleeping on an electrical element), the people sitting in front of cathode ray tubes for the last couple of generations (LCD, Plasma and LEDs are ending this). How many of the people who you’ve scaremongered about cellphone towers happily have any number of these devices and let their kids use them and don’t think twice about it? 

Or is this really about beating up privately owned telcos instead of a balanced rational debate about science? Otherwise you would have long campaigned for National Radio’s 500kW transmitter at Titahi Bay to be shut down years ago.
However, that doesn't matter to Russel.  He doesn't want to tell people to turn off the radio stations or TV.  It's a war against corporations as you can see by his response to me here:
I’m interested that a blogger called Liberty Scott seems to have so little concern with freedom. The state ties people’s hands over the control of cellphone towers so they can’t resist telcos and you applaud – rather typical Act Party position – freedom for corporations and no rights for individuals. CaptivityScott might think that the people are illinformed to be concerned about a cellphone mast outside their kids bedroom, but genuinely freedom loving people would defend their right to tell the state and corporations to move away, as the courts have done in france.

Kadin, bj and Kerry, there are of course many other sources of non-ionising radiation already present. The question is should we be concerned at adding to the increasing background level. We are doing it with wifi quite extensively at the moment. And there are studies raising issues around it. I say keep an open mind.

So he lazily associates me with ACT, and then starts engaging in childish name calling, then claims to want "the state to move away", which of course is the antithesis of his politics.   He then admits there are other sources, but that it is about adding to the background level.   This is scientific hogwash.  The issue, if there is one, is not lots of radio signals on different frequencies, but intense application of one continuous transmission over a long period. 

Sue Kedgley then lifts it to her usual heights of calm reasoning by claiming conspiracy.  Even Radio NZ must  be in on it:

The whole saga is a classic example of vested interests manipulating the policy process in Parliament. The media are also complicit. When the Green party tried to alert people to the so-called National Environmental Standard, and its effects, the media completely ignored it. Only the Wellingtonian reported on it. Could this have anything to do with the massive advertising by our telecommunications companies?

Didn't occur to her that most people don't believe the scaremongering and that being ignored can simply mean people have rolled their eyes and decided they have better things to worry about.
Without me responding, Russel plays the man not the ball again:
 It seems that you and DungeonScott are very proactive talking about freedom except when the rubber hits the road you are all in favour of restricting people’s rights and increasing corporate rights. the freedom you are after is the antithesis of human freedom, it is corporate freedom.
Well done Russel, you refuse to consider the issue on its merits.  You have hitched yourself to a bandwagon embraced by all sorts of snake-oil merchants because it suits your big company bashing agenda.  You can't actually answer the counter-claims about non-ionising radiation partly because you know nothing about it, but also you don't appear to have the humility to admit you (and Sue Kedgley, chief scaremongerer) are wrong.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

I always thought there was something odd about Wellingtonians.

scrubone said...

One of those insane debates where the objectives achieve the opposite to the stated goal.

Sort of like the people who submitted supporting the EFA who declared that they didn't want the US system...

ZenTiger said...

Well argued, and unfortunately no competition against your ideas for me to better assess the merits of Russel's case.

I can only surmise he lives too close to a transmitter tower and has had his brain fried.

Which is really his strongest point against you, unless I can think of another reason.

(Sorry Russel, your "DungeonScott" comment brought be down into the playground)

Bob Dobalina said...

Well actually having a cellphone tower outside my child's bedroom would not make me happy at all regardless of scientific facts or whats already transmitting.

I went through all this stuff a lot earlier than Russell did and a friend of mine actually sited the mast. When I told him about it he simply said You should have told me that you lived there and I would have put it somewhere else. Now what does that tell you then???

Also I remember canvassing the surrounding residents further away for support to get them to relocate it. They all thought ah well its far enough away from my house not to worry and they didn't help. You know what 2 years later they were fighting the same battle and asking us for help because another provider put a bigger and uglier one up next to their home lol. and this was after the other telco's telling me that there was legislation out for sharing masts between providers... haha what a joke.

To be fair though. Consider buying a house... You would think twice about buying one sited right next to one of these towers right because perception from buyers later will be poorer than of a house without a mast.

I think the main point here is the fact that councils/telco's give little or no consultation to affected parties in the process. There is a telecommunications / infrastructure document the council kept waving in-front of me 4 years ago which gives telco's the freedom of putting these up where they want in the name of technology and infrastructure requirements without consulting the people who live by these things. You know why? because they know people will complain! ..

Also who's responsible for monitoring these things. I don't see a nice report every year published saying that they have kept below the EMF threshold all year. Do you trust the telco to do this for you.

You know what I found out? theres choice for the telco's to put these things in places that don't affect peoples quality of life (perceived or otherwise), value of properties etc... but it seems the council would rather they were on council land (to pay rent) which includes that little bit of real-estate in between your property and the road... and there ain't nothing you can do about it.

At the end of the day you and Russell are having a debate about each others speeches but it misses the real point... Go by a house next to one and then tell me its OR-SUM, or just go talk to a Dad who wants to do the absolutely utmost best for his little boy or girl and doesn't want to hear people say the earth is flat and the sun is the centre of the universe.