The UN weather and climate agency, WMO, has warned that the latest “5G” mobile phone technology jeopardizes early warning services which protect people from natural disasters such as tropical cyclones.
In a resolution expressing “serious concern at the continuing threat to several radio-frequency bands” of 5G, the World Meteorological Organization’s executive Congress insisted that forecasting and alert services operated by countries had led to a big reduction in the loss of life in recent decades.
WMO’s spokesperson Clare Nullis explained that “we use these radio frequencies in the meteorological community…there’s concern that because of growing competition from new technology we’re going to be squeezed out of these frequencies.”
Weather alerts are linked to radio sensors that feed information into forecasting systems to provide more accurate predictions with longer warning times.
Experts are concerned that failing to manage unwanted emissions from new telecommunication technologies “would have a significant impact” on current weather-forecasting practices. Consequently, they say, it might reverse many of the gains in our warning services for natural hazards.
At a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee on June 12, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai dismissed claims that 5G services operating at the 24 gigahertz band could interfere with weather observations and thus degrade the accuracy of forecasts, saying studies that made those claims were flawed.
Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the Department of Commerce, and NASA have said that 5G could interfere with the detection of water vapour in the atmosphere.
In March and April 2019, Southern Africa was hit by two subsequent cyclones that left a trail of destruction in their path, and close to 2.2 million people in need urgent assistance in Mozambique alone.Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai was one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. The long-lived storm caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,000 people dead and thousands more missing.
Cyclone Idai: Image source: Wikipedia