Saturday, July 27, 2013

Is Your Child Risking a Brain Tumor with Cell Phone Usage?

Is Your Child Risking a Brain Tumor with Cell Phone Usage?

Elizabeth Renter
July 19th, 2013
Updated 07/19/2013 at 2:10 am
cell phone girl 263x164 Is Your Child Risking a Brain Tumor with Cell Phone Usage?

What is the appropriate age for a child to have a cell phone? Just a couple decades ago, the mobile technology was only in use by a small percentage of the population. But cell phone use has grown exponentially in a relatively short amount of time, and it’s not just adults who are using them. Children as young as 10 (and sometimes younger) are given cell phones, andsome experts say this could be putting them at a heightened risk of brain tumors and cancer.

The connection between cell phone use and increased risk of brain tumors has been made several times, with some nations taking it more seriously than others. In Australia, the link between cell phones and possible brain tumors in children is being taken quite seriously. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is distributing a fact sheet to all families purchasing cell phones, warning against the dangers of radiation and their potential link to brain tumors. They are urging parents to limit cell phone use by children and teens and telling them to keep the phone away from their head while in use.

Radiation put off by cell phones has been classified as a possible human carcinogen by the World Health Organization in the U.S., although some might say the U.S. is focusing less on the issue at hand – despite saying that cell phones are in the same cancer-causing category as lead and engine exhaust just a couple years ago. While we don’t allow our children to play with pesticides or diesel, we readily hand them cell phones.

Just a few Reasons to Limit Cell Phone Use (Especially for Children)
  • Researchers with a study released in July 2011 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said they found no connection between cell phone use and the risk of brain tumors in children. But immediately after, they were lambasted by the Environmental Health Trust, who said their study included many statistical errors and their conclusion was flawed. Rather than not showing a link, the Trust determined the study actually proved a 115% increased risk of brain tumors in children who used cell phones over those who didn’t.
“There’s every indication that this study actually found that children have a doubled risk of brain cancer,” said Lloyd Morgan, a senior research fellow of the Trust. “For them to just state that we don’t think there’s a problem is, for me, quite mystifying.”
  • Another study conducted at the Örebro Hospita in Sweden revealed that 10 years of cellphone use resulted in an average 290% increased risk of brain tumor development. Interestingly, the tumor development was found on the side of the head in which the cellphone was most used.
  • But the risk of developing a brain tumor isn’t the only consequence. One report shows just how damaging EMFs can be for children, revealing that due to developing organs, lower bone density of the skull, lower body weight, and a less effective blood brain barrier, children are very vulnerable to cell phone radiation. This is especially true for unborn children, with research showing that microwave radiation emitted by cell phones negatively influencing fetal brains.
A smaller brain means a bigger risk. While there may be a heightened risk for brain tumors among cell phone users of all ages, younger people have smaller brains with more connective tissue than mature brains. In other words, they can absorb up to three times as much radiation.
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Americans with irregular heartbeats to double: study

Americans with irregular heartbeats to double: study

Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:31pm EDT
Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - If current trends continue, the number of Americans who experience a dangerous irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation will more than double in the next 16 years, according to a new study.

In 2010, some five million U.S. adults had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or AF, but the study projects about 12 million cases by the year 2030.

That's a best guess, said study coauthor Dr. Daniel Singer, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, but the potential range is between 7 million and 17 million Americans diagnosed with the condition.

"By any estimate, there are going to be lots of (predominantly older) Americans with AF in 2030," Singer told Reuters Health by email.

"It's a very big problem," said Dr. Jonathan Piccini, who studies the evaluation and management of atrial fibrillation at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

One in four adults over the age of 40 will experience AF at some point, said Piccini, who was not involved in the new study.

Singer and his colleagues based their estimate on the number of AF cases between 2001 and 2008 in a large insurance claims database of 14 million people.

Based on those figures, the researchers report in the American Journal of Cardiology that the number of Americans with AF grew from 220 per 100,000 population in 2002 to 350 per 100,000 in 2007.

Taking into account U.S. Census Bureau projections for the increase in numbers of older Americans in the coming decades, the researchers estimate there will be a total of 12.1 million people in the U.S. living with AF in 2030.

That represents an average annual growth rate of 4.6 percent in the number of people with AF.

Irregular heartbeats are most common among older people, but the projected growth in cases would result from aging as well as increases in risk factors for AF, including obesity and diabetes, the authors write.

The irregular, usually very fast, heartbeat can cause painful palpitations, limit the ability to exercise or lead to heart failure, Singer said.

"Even AF patients without symptoms are at five-fold increased risk of stroke, which often leads to major disability or death," he said.

Overall, 15 percent of strokes in the U.S. are a result of AF, according to Singer.

The study was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer, which manufacture apixaban (Eliquis), a drug used to reduce stroke risk in people with AF. Singer has consulted for multiple companies with business interests related to AF, including Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Among the limitations of the study the authors acknowledged was that it only included privately insured people, so the estimate may not reflect the broader U.S. population.
However, most studies agree the number of AF cases will continue to increase to some degree, which puts individuals at risk and costs the health system.

"More atrial fibrillation in the population is not a good thing," Piccini said. "It means more heart failure, more strokes and higher mortality."

The condition can be treated with bloodthinning medications like apixaban and the older drug warfarin, surgeries and lifestyle changes, depending on how often symptoms arise.

To lower the risk of developing AF, especially older adults should "make sure they get good preventive health care, including diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, diabetes or sleep apnea," Piccini said. "Maintaining a healthy body weight and active lifestyle are also important."

SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology, online July 8, 2013.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Long-term exposure to microwave radiation provokes cancer growth: evidences from radars and mobile communication systems.

 2011 Jun;33(2):62-70.

Long-term exposure to microwave radiation provokes cancer growth: evidences from radars and mobile communication systems.


R.E. Kavetsky Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology of NAS of Ukraine, Vasylkivska str. 45, Kyiv 03022, Ukraine.


In this review we discuss alarming epidemiological and experimental data on possible carcinogenic effects of long term exposure to low intensity microwave (MW) radiation. Recently, a number of reports revealed that under certain conditions the irradiation by low intensity MW can substantially induce cancer progression in humans and in animal models. The carcinogenic effect of MW irradiation is typically manifested after long term (up to 10 years and more) exposure. Nevertheless, even a year of operation of a powerful base transmitting station for mobile communication reportedly resulted in a dramatic increase of cancer incidence among population living nearby. In addition, model studies in rodents unveiled a significant increase in carcinogenesis after 17-24 months of MW exposure both in tumor-prone and intact animals. To that, such metabolic changes, as overproduction of reactive oxygen species, 8-hydroxi-2-deoxyguanosine formation, or ornithine decarboxylase activation under exposure to low intensity MW confirm a stress impact of this factor on living cells. We also address the issue of standards for assessment of biological effects of irradiation. It is now becoming increasingly evident that assessment of biological effects of non-ionizing radiation based on physical (thermal) approach used in recommendations of current regulatory bodies, including the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines, requires urgent reevaluation. We conclude that recent data strongly point to the need for re-elaboration of the current safety limits for non-ionizing radiation using recently obtained knowledge. We also emphasize that the everyday exposure of both occupational and general public to MW radiation should be regulated based on a precautionary principles which imply maximum restriction of excessive exposure.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Changes in antioxidant capacity of blood due to mutual action of electromagnetic field (1800 MHz) and opioid drug (tramadol) in animal model of persistent inflammatory state.


Changes in antioxidant capacity of blood due to mutual action of electromagnetic field (1800 MHz) and opioid drug (tramadol) in animal model of persistent inflammatory state.


Department of Microwave Safety, Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Kozielska 4, PL 01-163, Warszawa, Poland.


Background: The biological effects and health implications of electromagnetic field (EMF) associated with cellular mobile telephones and related wireless systems and devices have become a focus of international scientific interest and world-wide public concern. It has also been proved that EMF influences the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in different tissues. Methods: Experiments were performed in healthy rats and in rats with persistent inflammatory state induced by Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) injection, which was given 24 h before EMF exposure and drug application. Rats were injected with CFA or the same volume of paraffin oil into the plantar surface of the left hind paw. Animals were exposed to the far-field range of an antenna at 1800 MHz with the additional modulation which was identical to that generated by mobile phone GSM 1800. Rats were given 15 min exposure, or were sham-exposed with no voltage applied to the field generator in control groups. Immediately before EMF exposure, rats were injected intraperitoneally with tramadol in the 20 mg/kg dose or vehicle in the 1 ml/kg volume. Results: Our study revealed that single EMF exposure in 1800 MHz frequency significantly reduced antioxidant capacity both in healthy animals and those with paw inflammation. A certain synergic mode of action between applied electromagnetic fields and administered tramadol in rats treated with CFA was observed. 
Conclusions: The aim of the study was to examine the possible, parallel/combined effects of electromagnetic radiation, artificially induced inflammation and a centrally-acting synthetic opioid analgesic drug, tramadol, (used in the treatment of severe pain) on the antioxidant capacity of blood of rats. The antioxidant capacity of blood of healthy rats was higher than that of rats which received only tramadol and were exposed to electromagnetic fields.
[PubMed - in process] 
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Legal experts weigh in on smart meter controversy

Legal experts weigh in on smart meter controversy

Posted on: 4:44 pm, July 25, 2013, by updated on: 09:06pm, July 25, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY-While smart meters are supposed to be good for your wallet, some Oklahomans say the devices are making them physically sick.
The concern about those meters is growing nationwide, especially for those who are diagnosed with electromagnetic hypersensitive disorder.
One Tulsa legislator even requested an interim study be done on the effects of the meters during this past session.
However, that request was denied.
Attorney David Slane said, “People buying electricity really have no power against the monopoly. For 25 years, the tobacco companies also said cigarette smoking didn’t affect your health and we know they all testified before Congress and now we know that’s just not the case. I don’t believe all these people are nuts in their claims.”
OG&E representatives say the digital technology helps drive down the cost for customers.
It also allows them to pinpoint problem areas in the case of a natural disaster.
While some customers have asked to keep the old meters, officials say having the old and new meters on the same grid is not feasible.
Slane says he believes it comes down to money.
He said, “What they are really telling you is they don’t want to pay a meter reader to go out to people’s houses who opt out. That’s what really, what they are telling you.”
Okla. Sen. Kyle Loveless said, “OG&E, in my mind, has a responsibility to its customers but also to its shareholders and those who have invested in the company.”
Loveless says he believes most companies do their best to meet the customers’ needs in a cost-efficient way.
He said, “Cookie cutter solutions can take care of the vast majority. There’s probably some people on the fringes or people they don’t apply to. I believe OG&E is trying to provide the cheapest electricity and the cheapest power they can. The best way I think they can do so is through the smart meters.”
However, Slane says there is a simple solution and the law often plays catch up to new technology.
Slane said, “I think that there probably needs to be an opt out provision in the law that would allow for certain circumstances, like this, to be able to decline that smart meter.”
Health officials say there is no way, at this point, to know how many EHS suffers there are but they do say it’s a small number.
The FCC sets the amount of radio frequencies allowed and smart meters fall within regulation.
OG&E points out their meters only transmit a minute a day and cell phones can emit far more RF than the smart meters.
Of course, opponents who have tested the meters say they emit more than what the manufacturers have told utility companies.
OG&E has offered to pay for an independent assessment of the home of one of the families from an earlier story.
OG&E has also sent out a letter to it’s employees explain their stance on health concerns as they relate to Smart Meters. You can read that letter here:
OG&E letter to Employees on Smart Meters

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ethernet Turns 40

Ethernet Turns 40

Highlights from co-inventor Robert Metcalfe’s IEEE oral history

 15 July 2013

Photo: Robert Metcalfe

The technology’s genesis dates to 1973, when Xerox PARC, in Palo Alto, Calif., built the Alto personal computer. Robert Metcalfe—who was working there at the time and finishing his Ph.D. dissertation for Harvard—was assigned to design a network for the machine as well as a card that could be plugged into it to enable communication with the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the world's first operational packet-switching network and the precursor to the Internet. Xerox PARC was also building a laser printer that could print 500 dots per inch at a speed of one page per minute. The hope was to use it as a central printer for all of Xerox PARC’s personal computers. Hundreds of computers had to be connected.We take for granted how computers in the workplace are all connected together. Sharing files with coworkers, sending documents to a network printer, and accessing data from a networked server are all routine procedures thanks to the invention of Ethernet technology. On Ethernet’s 40th anniversary, the IEEE History Center shares excerpts from the oral history interview it conducted with Ethernet’s co-inventor Robert Metcalfe in February 2004.

“If you do the math on that printer,” Metcalfe explained in his interview with the IEEE History Center, “that was a lot of bits per second…500 times 500, times 8.5, times 11, per minute…that’s a big number. RS-232 was then the standard for interconnecting terminals, and it frequently ran below 19.2 kilobits per second. It was not even close to what was needed.”
To keep the printer busy, the PARC network had to run in megabits, not kilobits, per second. On 22 May 1973, Metcalfe distributed a memo describing the high-speed local network he had in mind. He called it the EtherNet, which was soon rewritten asEthernet. In June, Metcalfe teamed with David Boggs, another PARC employee and an experienced amateur radio operator, to build the network. The similarities between amateur radio—where multiple transmitters use the same frequency and have developed an etiquette for not interfering with each other—and a network of computer terminals communicating over the same wires, made Boggs’s experience particularly valuable.
Ethernet was not the first attempt to build what would come to be called a local-area network, or LAN. (The acronym LAN would not even come into use for about eight years.) Metcalfe was influenced by the ALOHAnet, which relied on radio to connect computer users in the Hawaiian Islands—it was the first public demonstration of a wireless packet data network. Norm Abramson, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Hawaii and the director of ALOHAnet, wrote a paper evaluating it. After Metcalfe read Abramson’s paper, he rethought ALOHAnet’s traffic model, which assumed that if two packets of information collided, the users would keep typing and resending packets in the absence of an acknowledgment having been received. The assumption was that if two terminals sent packets at the same time and they interfered with each other, they would each try again but not at the same time.
Metcalfe believed, however, that users who did not receive an acknowledgment were more likely to stop typing and would wait before transmitting again. Thus the packet traffic would decrease, resulting in fewer collisions. With fewer collisions, more of the data would be able to get through. This is the same principle as a traffic jam on a highway: There may be a lot of cars on the road, but no one is getting anywhere. When there are fewer cars on the highway, they are moving, and more of them reach their destinations. With Ethernet, as with any network, the idea is to fill the communication channel with the most traffic that can still move efficiently.
For Ethernet networks, Metcalfe designed a “back-off algorithm” to control the retry time and thus the traffic volume. When the network saw light traffic, it would randomize the retry time over a short interval. But as the traffic load increased, the terminals would take more time before resending. A collision would be evidence that a channel was busier than anticipated, and so the retry time would be lengthened. This insight made Ethernet hugely more efficient. Fewer people were typing, and so a higher percentage of data packets were able to get through. Collision detection made Ethernet different and made it fast.
Metcalfe and his colleagues chose coaxial cable for Ethernet’s physical pathways because they wanted to be able to add or subtract nodes without bringing the network down. They also wanted to be able to insert nodes without cutting wires. David Liddle, who worked down the hall from Metcalfe and Boggs, pointed out something called a cable television tap. This allows tapping into a coaxial cable without cutting it. Ethernet was designed to be media-independent, however. By using the word ether in its name, the PARC people alluded to the possibility that Ethernet could be based on coaxial, twisted-pair or optical fiber wiring and, eventually, on Wi-Fi. Another important operating principle for Ethernet was that it would be vastly distributed; there would be no central control.
“In 1973, the Internet [which at that time was basically the ARPANET] on a good day ran at 50 kb/s,” Metcalfe reflected in his oral history. “Ethernet ran at 2.94 megabits per second.” Over the years, people urged Metcalfe to round the number up to 3. He always resisted, as a matter of emphasis: If one rounds 2.94 Mb to 3 Mb, the rounding error is more than 50 kb/s. “Ethernet’s round-off error was bigger than Internet,” said Metcafe. “That’s how fast Ethernet was running.”
Xerox filed for a patent application for Ethernet on 31 March 1975, listing Robert Metcalfe, David Boggs, Chuck Thacker, and Butler Lampson as its inventors. U.S. Patent No. 4063220, “Multipoint data communication system (with collision detection),” was issued on 13 December 1977.
For his work on Ethernet, Metcalfe was awarded the 1988 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal and was the recipient of the 1996 IEEE Medal of Honor, IEEE’s highest award.
Learn more about the technologies that IEEE 802.3 “Standard for Ethernet” has helped enabled by visiting the IEEE Standards Association website. It includes a video of a conversation with Metcalfe, an “Ask Me Anything” session with him on Reddit, and a list of IEEE 802.3 Ethernet milestones.

Rare birth defect on the rise

Rare birth defect on the rise

Kerry Grens July 18, 2013

By Kerry Grens
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The proportion of babies born with a defect called gastroschisis has nearly doubled since 1995, according to a large new study.
The cause of gastroschisis - which is a hole in the baby's abdomen - is unclear, although it's known to be more likely in the children of teen mothers. A mother's exposure to certain chemicals has also been tied to the malformation, though not conclusively.
In the new study, researchers looked at rates of gastroschisis in millions of live births over an 11-year period in the U.S.
"We have a pattern where the prevalence is very much highest among young women and it's growing more rapidly among that group than any other group," said Russell Kirby, a professor at the University of South Florida and the lead author of the study.
Kirby's study could not explain why the birth defect is becoming more common, and gastroschisis itself is not well understood.
The malformation involves an opening next to the belly button, through which the baby's intestines protrude.
Newborns with gastroschisis require immediate surgery to close the hole and put the organs back in place.
Most babies with gastroschisis survive, but Kirby said some children have problems with growth and development and there is not a lot of research about the long term outcomes for these kids.
By general estimates, the condition is relatively rare, with a rate of 2 to 3 cases per 10,000 live births in the U.S. But in recent years, studies have suggested the defect is being seen more often.
To get a better sense of how the numbers have changed over time, Kirby and his colleagues gathered birth defect monitoring data from 15 states.
They found that among 13.2 million births between 1995 and 2005, there were 4,713 babies born with gastroschisis, which translates to about 3.5 out of every 10,000 babies.
This number grew steadily over the study period, however, starting out at 2.3 out of every 10,000 babies in 1995 and climbing to 4.4 out of every 10,000 infants in 2005.
"I do believe the numbers," said James Robbins, a professor who studies birth defects at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
The increase in gastroschisis primarily affected mothers under age 25, and especially under age 20, whereas those who gave birth in their 30s had no change in their risk of having a baby with the birth defect.
Mothers who had their babies in their early twenties experienced a 5.8 percent increase each year in the risk of having a child born with gastroschisis, Kirby's group reported in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Among these mothers, the number of babies born with gastroschisis went from 4 out of every 10,000 babies in 1995 to 7 in 10,000 babies in 2005.
Teen mothers saw a 6.8 percent yearly increase in the proportion of babies born with gastroschisis.
In 1995, there were 8 babies with gastroschisis out of every 10,000 babies born to women under age 20. By 2005, that number was 15 out of every 10,000 babies.
The proportion of babies with gastroschisis born to Asian women and Native American women remained steady over the study period.
White, black and Hispanic mothers, however, experienced a roughly four to six percent increased risk each year of having a baby with the malformation.
Researchers have not identified what's behind these increases.
A previous study of women in Washington state found that exposure to the weed killer atrazine was tied to an increased risk of having a baby with gastroschisis, although it did not show that the chemical caused the malformation (see Reuters Health story of February 8, 2010 here:
Robbins said that smoking is a considered a risk factor, but he doesn't think that's behind the pattern detected in this study.
"I don't think there's a clear explanation for why the rates are going up," said Robbins, who was not involved in the current research.
Kirby speculated that it's possible nutrition could have something to do with the trend, but more research is needed to figure it out.
"We know that there are influences of different vitamins and nutrients that definitely affect fetal development," he said.
But as far as their relation to gastroschisis, "that's just a suspicion."
Kirby's research team is currently following up to see how the numbers have changed since 2005.
SOURCE: Obstetrics & Gynecology, August 2013.

What Does Your Cell Phone Have to Do with Armed Conflict?

What Does Your Cell Phone Have to Do with Armed Conflict?

July 25, 2013 at 8:15 AM
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s long war, which has claimed an estimated three million lives as a result of fighting or disease and malnutrition, was fuelled by the regions vast mineral wealth (Photo Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images).
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s long war, which has claimed an estimated three million lives as a result of fighting or disease and malnutrition, was fueled by the regions vast mineral wealth (Photo Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images).
You know that phone you’re texting on? Do you know how its microchips are made?
Thanks to work by Amnesty International and partner organizations, companies that rely on certain minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo or neighboring countries now have to investigate and report on whether those minerals fund armed groups.
And it’s about more than just smartphones – conflict minerals” (tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold) are used in products like your laptop and even your car. Public disclosure of companies’ sourcing practices can have a real impact on entire industries, pushing companies to take human rights into account as they do business. Can you hear me now?
The conflict in the Congo has often been linked to a struggle for control over its minerals resources. The Congo is rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt (Photo Credit: Lionel Healing/AFP/Getty Images).
The Congo is rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt (Photo Credit: Lionel Healing/AFP/Getty Images).
Amnesty International USA and Public Citizen (which provided us with pro bono counsel) are celebrating a human rights victory: a federal district court upheld the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s “conflict minerals rule” requiring corporations reporting to the SEC to investigate and publicly disclose whether their sourcing practices finance armed groups in the DRC. The rule was challengedby industry groups – including the Chamber of Commerce – who filed a lawsuit contending that the “conflict minerals rule” was arbitrary and that the public disclosure requirement violated companies’ First Amendment rights.
In yesterday’s decision, the court rejected every single one of the claims advanced by the industry groups and agreed with the SEC and Amnesty International that the industry groups’ arguments lacked merit.
For nearly two decades, the DRC has been in the grip of armed conflict that has caused the suffering of millions of women, men, and children. All parties to the conflict have committed violations of international humanitarian law – including the use of child soldiers, unlawful killings, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.
Children perform the most unskilled but heavy labor in eastern DRC's artisanal mines. Mining is recognized as one of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in international standards (Photo Credit: Amnesty International/IPIS).
Children perform the most unskilled but heavy labor in eastern DRC’s artisanal mines. Mining is recognized as one of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in international standards (Photo Credit: Amnesty International/IPIS).
An important source of funding for armed groups operating in and around the DRC is the minerals trade, which supplies tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold that end up in popular consumer products worldwide ranging from the jewelry you may be wearing right now to the cell phone you can’t spend a single day without.
Section 1502 (known as the conflict minerals provision) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, essentially requires publicly traded companies to disclose publicly whether their products contain minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo or neighboring countries. If so, these companies must explain the actions taken to trace the origin of the minerals and whether they come from mines or trading routes that help fund armed conflict and the worsening humanitarian situation in the region.
This victory is an important step in bringing much-needed transparency and accountability to companies’ sourcing of conflict minerals and provides critical information to investors and consumers.

How technology has stopped evolution and is destroying the world

How technology has stopped evolution and is destroying the world

Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face, on battles with Steve Jobs and why we need to dismantle our techno-industrial society

Patagonia mountains
Doug Tompkins, founder of North Face and Esprit, has been instrumental in creating two huge nature reserves in Patagonia. Photograph: Aaron Black/Getty Images
It has become something of a mantra within the sustainability movement that innovations in technology can save the world. But rather than liberating us, Doug Tompkins, the cofounder of retail brands The North Face and Esprit, believes technology has enslaved us and is destroying the very health of the planet on which all species depend.
Tompkins, 70 has used his enormous wealth from selling both companies to preserve more land than any other individual in history, spending more than £200m buying over two million acres of wilderness in Argentina and Chile.
He challenges the view that technology is extending democracy, arguing that it is concentrating even more power in the hands of a tiny elite. What troubles him the most is that the very social and environmental movements that should be challenging the destructive nature of mega-technologies, have instead fallen under their spell.
"We have been poor on doing the systemic analysis and especially in the area of technology criticism," says Tompkins, who has been deeply influenced by former Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, who called for a dismantling of the techno-industrial society.
"Until we get better at that, I think we're cooked, we're going to continue to extinct species and we're going to continue to dig the hole deeper of the whole eco-social crisis.
"If you just hold your cell phone for 30 seconds and think backwards through its production you have the entire techno-industrial culture wrapped up there. You can't have that device without everything that goes with it. You see mining, transportation, manufacturing, computers, high-speed communications, satellite communications, it's all there, you see and it's that techno-industrial culture that's destroying the world."

Championing the environment

Tompkins is considered a hero in the deep ecology movement and works hand in hand with his wife Kris, the former CEO of the outdoor clothing and equipment company Patagonia.
They have been instrumental in creating two huge nature reserves and are in the process of creating another one in the South American region of Patagonia, despite opposition within Latin America, including being accused by rightwing Chilean politicians of effectively splitting the country in two in a conspiratorial land grab.
Together, they also fund numerous small activist NGOs, arguing that more established organisations such as WWF and Greenpeace have become too closely enmeshed with corporations.
"When WWF started out, they were doing some good stuff," says Tompkins. "Now, they're burning up money like crazy and they don't really get too much done. Most all of these organisations grew too big for their own good and the small scrappy organisations are the ones who are really getting things done on the ground."
Tompkins derides those who pin their hopes on technological developments in areas such as wind, solar and nuclear as coming from the smart resource management school, saying they fail to understand that this will not address the core issue, which is that capitalism is addicted to growth.
"Resource efficiency is the wrong metric," he says. "We should use nature as the measure, using nature's wisdom as a template for our economic systems.
"Capitalism doesn't function when it starts to contract and we can see that quite clearly right here in the eurozone. It's like pushing a giant monster underwater that's gasping for air. It goes nuts. Capitalism may have all sorts of things that are good, but ultimately it's bad for everyone."
He believes most sustainability practitioners have made the mistake of spending their time creating strategies and projects, without taking the time to gain a deep understanding of how we got into a mess in the first place. As a result, they may end up doing more harm than good.
"As we get sucked more and more into the technosphere, we become less and less capable of understanding it because it becomes a technological milieu that we're in," he warns.
"It's similar to air; we're basically unconscious about the air. What we need is to understand what technologies themselves bring with them when they're introduced into culture.
"If you extinct all the biodiversity and we end up living on a sandheap with a Norwegian rat and some cockroaches, that doesn't have too much logic to it. That would show that our behaviour as a civilization today is to the pathological. But, if you make a systemic analysis, that's exactly where we're going."

A strategic embrace, not a substantive embrace

Tompkins was a friend of Steve Jobs and the two men had many arguments over the years, with the former Apple CEO trying to convince Tompkins that computers were going to save the world, and Tompkins insisting the opposite.
Tompkins recalls the Apple advertising campaign that highlighted the 1,001 great things that the PC was going to give to us and would tell Jobs that these represented a mere 5% of what the computer did while the other 95% was all negative and exacerbating the biodiversity crisis.
"He'd get mad at me when I'd tell him that," says Tompkins.
"He was locked into a view that these technologies were going to bring all these good things. But that's typical of the purveyors of new technology. They're selling their product and their idea, and their prestige, their power and their influence. Their self-esteem is wrapped up in that. It's impossible for them to see it or to admit it, you see? Because, it pulls the rug out from underneath their purpose, especially when it's attached to a moral purpose.
"That's typical of everybody who introduces a new widget into society. They don't tell you the negative side effects that this introduction of this new invention could provoke."
While there has been much talk of the democratisation that the internet has brought, Tompkins points out that while individuals use it largely for their own narrow interests, large corporations are the big winners as they are able to take advantage of it to become ever more powerful.
Tompkins also warns technology has become omnipresent and describes how he felt coerced into buying a laptop after recognising that he was becoming increasingly marginalised.
"I did not want to compromise my engagement so I was forced to use the very technology that is undoing the world," he says. "I have a strategic embrace, not a substantive embrace. The problem is that 99.9% of the people in our own movement love this thing, they think this is going to lead us to the promised land. I have no such pretensions."

Is technology stemming evolution?

Rather than adding to our knowledge, Tompkins argues computers and smartphones represent "deskilling devices; they make us dumber. We're immersed in a system that now requires the use of a cell phone just to get around, just to function and so the logic of that cell phone has been imposed on us.
"The computer is a mechanism for acceleration, it accelerates economic activity and this is eating up the world. It's eating up resources, it's processing, it's manufacturing, it's distributing, it's consuming. That's what the computer's real work does and it does that 24/7, 365 days a year, non-stop just to satisfy our own narrow needs."
Tompkins foresees a dark future dominated as he puts it by more ugliness, damaged landscapes, extinct species, extreme poverty, and lack of equity and says humanity faces a stark choice; either to transition now to a different system or face a painful collapse.
"Of course I'd prefer the transition, because a crash will be highly unpredictable," he says. "It could exacerbate something terrible.
"The extinction crisis is the mother of all crises. There will be no society, there will be no economy, there will be no art and culture on a dead planet basically. We've stopped evolution."

Parents should limit their child's cell phone use; says federal radiation health watchdog

cell phone

Parents should limit their child's cell phone use; says federal radiation health watchdog

(NaturalNews) It's an all too familiar scene: children, some as young as nine, spending an exorbitant amount of time on cell phones. What may not be as familiar, and therefore go unnoticed, is the sight of children who are suffering and sick from cancer, specifically brain cancer. Australia has noticed and is very concerned about the connection between these two trends. Through the federal government health watchdog, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), Australia has issued a warning. One which speaks volumes.

In a "fact sheet" distributed to parties interested in purchasing and using cell phones, the consumer watchdog group has put out a warning in regards to children and mobile phones. Or more importantly, children and cell phone radiation.

How many kids does this really affect?

As many as 25 percent of nine-year-olds living in Australia and three out of four teenagers attending high school in the land down under have regular access to a cell phone. ARPANSA recommends that parents assist their children in limiting their exposure to the radiation that is emitted from cell phones. The federal organization bases this on the research surrounding children and cell phone use.

Existing research is inadequate. Nevertheless, available research is enough to warrant grave concerns from those who care about children's health, now and in the future. One such concerned person is Joel Moskowitz. He is director of the Center for Family and Community Health at Berkeley's School of Public Health and he believes scientific studies have shown enough of an association between cell phone exposure and an increase in cancer. Further research must be pursued.

The European Community's Seventh Framework Program couldn't agree more. The research organization funded the MOBI-KIDs project. MOBI-KIDS according to their website, "Is an international case-control study which aims to assess the potential associations between use of communication devices and other environmental risk factors and brain tumors in young people."

The extensive five year study involved:

• 26 countries (including Australia and MONASH University)
• 10 to 24-year-old participants
• Up to 2,000 young people
• Those with and without brain tumors included

The study is relevant and timely as brain tumors are secondary only to leukemia as the number one cause of childhood cancers. These cancers, like cell phone usage by young people, are on the rise. Smaller research studies have led to flawed conclusions, conclusions which could prove dangerous, and even deadly.

Limiting a child's exposure to cell phone radiation

In a day and age where complicated problems are often accompanied by complicated solutions, decreasing exposure to cell phone radiation is simple. How simple? ARPANSA recommends simply:

• Keeping the phone away from the head
• Placing the thumb as a barrier between the phone and the ear

Limiting the amount of time children are exposed to cell phones is an especially worthy goal because smaller heads mean smaller brains. Smaller brains contain more conductive tissue than larger brains and can absorb up to three times as much radiation.

Cell phone radiation has been classed by the World Health Organization as a possible human carcinogen in the same category as diesel engine exhaust, some pesticides, and some heavy metals. As Dr. Devra Davis of the Environmental Health Trust points out, "we would never let a child play with some pesticides, heavy metals, or diesel engine exhaust. Yet people are giving their children cellphones."

The people from down under are waking up to the importance of keeping children safe from cell phone radiation; all parents must wake up and act now.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Lloyd Burrell is the author of a new ebook entitled "How To Beat Electrical Sensitivity" which offers a solution to the growing number of people whose health is being compromised by exposure to wireless and similar technologies, see

Since falling prey to a violent reaction to his cell phone in 2002 he has spent the last 10 years researching the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on health. He now offers a complete solution on how to live a healthy life in our increasingly electromagnetic world.

Learn more: