This episode is the first in a new series with Katie Singer, an expert on the intersection of technology, environmental impact and public health. These episodes are meant to serve as open dialogue about important issues that impact our health and our future.

I first met Katie a few years ago for an eye-opening conversation about the health impacts of cell phones and other electronic usage.

Since that time, Katie has presented critical information about the Internet’s footprint at the UN’s 2018 Forum on Science, Technology & Innovation and, in 2019, on a panel at RealTruthTalks with the climatologist Dr. James Hansen.

Katie’s last book, An Electronic Silent Spring, reports on the health and environmental impacts of exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by electronic devices and infrastructure. She’s currently finishing a book about the Internet’s energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, toxic waste, worker hazards and climate impacts.

This is where we spend much of today’s conversation – shining light on the true cost of our addiction to devices and data streaming, how we can reduce our impact as individuals, and what we really need to know about the coming Internet Of Things and 5G.

In future episodes with Katie, we’ll dive deeper into her upcoming paper that explores the hidden truth about electric vehicles, and maybe do a Q & A episode where I ask Katie your biggest questions bout 5G, electric cars, the internet’s footprint, etc.

In This Episode:

  • Internet’s footprint – energy use, greenhouse has emissions, toxic waste, worker hazards
  • Our consumption is staggering – thinking about the supply chain and requirements to get things to you
    • Eating local and avoiding grocery stores: 1 coconut water in New Mexico pales in comparison to 1 electronic device
  • To have these forums, we must first become aware of the imbalances
  • Reduce consumption by 70%
    • Start at 3%
  •  The Internet is the largest thing that humanity has built: Invisible to us are the true costs that are proportionate to the size
  • 3 main energy guzzlers
    • Embodied energy – manufacturing energy cost
    • Access Networks
    • Data Storage centers (they’re everywhere: campuses, hospitals, warehouses seen from space)
      • Floor to ceiling with servers and ALL HAVE EMBODIED ENERGY
        • These centers would be the 5th leading “country” in terms of energy usage in the world
  • Understanding the Jevon’s paradox of energy efficiency: Consumption increases when systems are efficient. We do more because it’s easy.
  • Laptops: 81% of it’s energy footprint occurs before you turn it on for the first time
  • Smartphones: Made of more than 1000 substances (Click here for partial list. This is crazy.)
    • Mind blowing stats: More Transistors made in 2013 than grains of wheat grown – and the embodied energy costs FAR exceed the monoculture farming abominations
  • Embodied energy (the true cost of electric/solar)
    • Electronic device has lifespan: cradle (design phase), usable life, and grave
      • Extraction, refining, transportation
  • 5G Concerns: 5G = 5th generation: designed to support Internet of Things & increased traffic
    • Requires cell sites every 3-10 houses: HUGE EMBODIED ENERGY COST for infrastructure
  • The illusion that renewable power will allow us to continue our current lifestyle
  • What can we do?
    • Wireless communication = 10x energy compared to wired… Use wired when possible
    • Wait 4 years to upgrade technology
    • Buy fewer things!
    • Charge phone less
    • Video, slideshows, and “flashy” websites = use more data
    • Delay children’s introduction to electronics as long as possible
  • How Katie would protect herself from 5G if she lived in a large metropolitan area


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