Are Backwoods Beats Really Harmless?

Even when we’re not actively interacting with the digital world, our devices are. Packing music into the toolies isn’t just about being a clueless boor with questionable habits in the field. It’s also about being a clueless boor who might be harming the environment. Literally.

Around the world, studies are proliferating on the devastating effects of “electrosmog,” the blanket of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that we’ve cast across the planet, which could be harmful to various wild species. For example, German scientist Ulrich Warnke has argued that there’s a link between colony collapse disorder in bees and our mania for cell phones, whose RF waves discombobulate bees’ orientation and navigation mechanisms. Then there’s FirstNet, a nationwide wireless-broadband network for emergency communications that was approved by federal law in 2012. Backed by numerous studies, the Department of the Interior has raised concerns about the harmful effects it may have on migratory birds. In a dramatically titled 2014 book, An Electronic Silent Spring, Katie Singer reports on a Spanish study of a frog habitat located near a cell tower. Researchers found that frogs artificially shielded from the antennae’s waves had a mortality rate of 4.2 percent. Frogs left exposed to the waves reportedly suffered a whopping 90 percent mortality rate.

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