In the air tonight -

In the air tonight

The fallout from Elizabeth May’s wifi fears


This afternoon, Elizabeth May took to Twitter to fret about the harmfulness of wifi. Some degree of mockery ensued. As to the central issue, Kate Heartfield posts a Citizen editorial from a year ago.

The World Health Organization says there is no convincing scientific evidence that wireless networks cause any damage to human health. Yes, wireless devices emit electromagnetic radiation, as do other electronic devices we use in our homes and offices: computers, televisions, even baby monitors. The exposure to radiation from a mobile phone, which is generally much closer to the person using it than a wireless access point, is much higher than that from a wireless network.

It’s certainly true that exposure to wifi networks has increased over the past few years, and that it might take time for any ill effects to show up in the research. So it makes sense for health agencies to keep monitoring the research and be prepared to change their minds, as is true for all science. The evidence from the research to date, though, is clear and reassuring. There is certainly no reason to start getting rid of wifi in schools and other places where children spend a lot of time.

The WHO fact sheet on wireless networks is here. More recently, Health Canada posted the following video.


In the air tonight

  1. Well Harper muzzles scientists, sneers at science, and promotes scientific illiteracy….so we shouldn’t be surprised by this kind of fear-mongering nonsense.

    • It’s pretty funny (but sadly typical) that you would blame Harper for this.

      • Who appointed a creationist as our science minister again?

        • Gary Goodyear isn’t a creationist.  Do you have any evidence that he is?

          The Harper government has provided more funding to hard science than any other government in Canadian history, including world-class studies of evolution and genetics.  

          Of course, the Harper-haters will never admit this, because they prefer to tilt at straw men rather than acknowledge the reality that the current government has done a fairly good job when it comes to funding science.

          • He’s a Christian, but he’s never identified himself as a creationist.  It’s too bad that the minister isn’t better versed in scientific concepts, but fortunately the people who work for him have the necessary expertise, which is as it should be.

          • @Crit_Reasoning:disqus 

            Yeah, he’s a creationist. That’s why they were questioning him…..and he has no clue about evolution

            He should never have been made science minister….the scary part is that in a cabinet full of creationists he may be the best qualified.


          • @OriginalEmily1:disqus The religious beliefs of any minister, whether Christian, Muslim, Jew, agnostic, atheist, etc. are irrelevant, unless you can point to some way it has interfered with him doing his job. 

            The fact is that the government is funding more studies on evolution and genetics, not less. Just ask scientists on the cutting edge of evolutionary research like McGill’s Andrew Hendy:


          • @Crit_Reasoning:disqus 

            The religious beliefs of any member of govt are irrelevant unless they start dragging their religion INTO govt….there has to be a firm separation of church and state.

            Harper hasn’t always done that….in fact his religion has crept into several things

            Funding some things, while gutting others doesn’t disguise this.

          • Did you miss the 2009 cuts?

          • Did you miss the 2011 election?

          • @TSYM:disqus 

            So if some voters are keen on science cuts, you think that’s good for the country?

  2. If Ms Miller is being muzzled, it is due to Ms May types who will become an even more earnest fishwife when they hear about leukemia in fish and mysterious viruses. 

    Canadians aren’t capable of scientific thought anymore, we have had years of public education to teach us to be afraid of radio waves.  

    A Trick Of The Mind:

    Superstitions arise as the result of the spurious identification of patterns. Even pigeons are superstitious ….. 

    In addition, as evolved social creatures, we have brains that are attuned to trying to discern the intentions of others—and we look for patterns, there, too, and then try to infuse them with human intention and meaning, or what Mr. Shermer calls “agenticity.” 

    Patterns in life are variously ascribed to the work of ghosts, gods, demons, angels, aliens, intelligent designers and federal conspirators. “Even belief that the government can impose top-down measures to rescue the economy is a form of agenticity,” the author says.

  3. She was yapping about the wireless smart meters on the radio this a.m. as well.

    Why doesn’t she talk about the new Aquarius satellite launched this June with the Quebec built sensor to measure world ocean surface salinity and links to climate change?  

    • Why doesn’t Harper?

      Or is he too busy duct-taping scientists?

      • I know you can never bring yourself to admit this, but screeching about how evil Harper is doesn’t actually detract from the thing where Elizabeth May, supposedly the leader of a serious party, is easily convinced by any and every fringy conspiracy theory that passes by.

        • a) women don’t ‘screech’

          b) I’m not a Green

          c) If voters have expressed a concern about this to her, it’s her job to find out about it.

          d) Harper’s war on science is well known, and an anti-science govt affects the country.

          • “If voters have expressed a concern about this to her, it’s her job to find out about it.” – on twitter

          • Is it only a genuine concern if you use parchment and a quill pen?

          • Well maybe she could use Wikipedia like you do

          • I use Wikipedia because it’s what people on chatsites understand.

    • Because it isn’t about science for Elizabeth May/Maude Barlow types; it is about Activism – Science is a useful conduit to being an activist for these self-absorbed individuals

      • You didn’t read the Twitter item didja….

        And Cons are the last people who can talk about activism over science….!

  4. I am just beginning to realize how woefully uneducated Canadians are about the legitimate health risks associated with non-ionizing radiation. (This includes both cell phones and Wi-Fi.) It truly is time for people to put down their electronic toys for a moment and do a little research. The Europeans are much farther ahead of us in this regard and are urging schools to follow the Precautionary Principle with respect to Wi-Fi – which makes sense considering our children are the most vulnerable members to toxins of all forms. It should be noted that the first warning about the hazards of smoking was announced in 1930. Look at how many decades it took for the ‘weight of evidence’ to be accepted by various organizations from around the world. By the way, it’s not hard to imagine that a large number of the negative comments that have been posted in response to Elizabeth May’s comment originate from either individuals who work within the ‘telecommunication industry’ or simply from those people who are so addicted to their personal electronic devices that they can’t possibly entertain the thought that such devices just might be harmful.

    The lack of the ability to think critically may prove to be more dangerous to Canadians in the long run than the combined effect of all EMF sources…

    • Yes there is risk. However, to me, the risk is minimal and acceptable. In a few weeks, my son will be trotting out the door to catch his school bus for the 30 minute ride to school that will take his bus through medium levels of residential traffic- now THAT is something that concerns me from time to time. 

      I’ve also noticed- and this is only an anecdote- that my two younger children get all squirrely after they eat hot dogs. Considering the amount of crap in a hot dog, this does not surprise me really. Our Dogs n’ Burgers night has now become just Burger night. Peace now reigns in the San Diego Dave household.

      Ultimately, the good that wireless technology has brought to the world, especially in developing Africa, so far has legitimately outweighed any danger, real or perceived. 

    • The lack of the ability to think critically may prove to be more
      dangerous to Canadians in the long run than the combined effect of all
      EMF sources. <– This I agree with, the rest I'll take a pass

    • Also Boltsy, you say “Europeans” when you should say “The Council of Europe”