Environmental Protection: The International Convention on Biological Diversity

In December 2022 at the fifteenth Convention of the Parties (COP15), parties negotiated updates to the the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The meeting included 192 countries that had ratified the CBD. The U.S.A. did not ratify, but attended.

The CBD includes targets, to stem unprecedented declines in biodiversity and increased risks of extinction. An unprecedented 1,000,000 species are at risk of extinction.

Target 7 addresses pollution. Radiofrequency and low frequency electromagnetic fields are emerging, rapidly escalating and preventable pollutants, that clearly affect biological diversity. This anthropogenic electromagnetic pollution should be recognized, and alternative technologies should be used to minimize levels in the environment.

Target 7 description of pollution prevention is open ended. The final consensus description among COP15 delegates emerged as:

Reduce pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution from all sources, by 2030, to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, considering cumulative effects, including: reducing excess nutrients lost to the environment by at least half including through more efficient nutrient cycling and use; reducing the overall risk from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals by at least half including through integrated pest management, taking into account food security and livelihoods; and also preventing, reducing, and working towards eliminating plastic pollution.

Notably, during negotiations, compromises weakened pesticides reduction from two thirds to one half, and removed mention of light and noise.

Beyond visible light, another invisible form of electromagnetic radiation is affecting flora and fauna—the radiofrequency and low frequency radiation from modern technologies. Known as “wireless radiation” colloquially and for brevity, this website presents evidence of how this agent impacts many forms of flora and fauna, and may magnify effects of other pollutants. Thus wireless radiation poses unaddressed threats to biological diversity, and as wireless deployments are accelerating, this may undermine or blunt the benefits of other pollution prevention.

International and National Roles

Parties attending COP15 were encouraged to include anthropogenic radiofrequency and low frequency electromagnetic radiation as a form of pollution to be prevented, in Target 7 of the CBD. This goal would address halting of new deployments, and shifting to safer technologies.

No jurisdiction or international body addresses assessment or regulation of wireless radiation to protect the environment. An international scientific panel with strict conflict of interest standards should be struck to review existing science, identify research needs and propose interim precautionary guidance for safer electronic communications.

As well as precautionary exposure standards to protect the environment, national leaders can prioritize, plan for and support financially safer communication network systems.

Safer Technology

Safer technology is hard-wired. It does not emit radiation, it is more secure and resilient, and by design it uses less energy. Wireless technologies are evolving (3G, 4G, 5G and higher) with newer and more antennae transmitting an increasingly intricate array of signals over more and more frequencies, to and from small and large antennas and satellites. Fibre-optic cable and wires are inherently more secure, resilient, lower energy and extraordinarily high bandwidth. Hard-wired technology is not subject to vagaries of precipitation, vegetation and structures blocking or interfering with signals. Buried cables are resilient to damaging storms, that destroy above-ground infrastructure. Communications technology expert Dr. Timothy Schoechle wrote a comprehensive review, Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks for the U.S. National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy.

… to inform the public and policy makers at all levels about the continuing value of wireline networks, the role of those networks in our national communication future vis-à-vis wireless networks, and to stimulate discussion about why the use of and investment in wireline is vital to America’s basic infrastructure for the 21st century.

T. Schoechle PhD. Senior Research Fellow, National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy.
Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks

Personal Actions

Contact your Minister and authorities for biodiversity, including delegates who attended COP15.

These would be your Minister of Environment and associates. Share your concerns with Ministers, authorities, delegates and observers to raise awareness. Share with your community to build support.

As your government consults and formulates plans to meet Target 7, request that they include reduction of radiofrequency and low frequency anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation pollution in your country’s plan to meet International Convention on Biodiversity, Target 7.

Closer to home

Your representatives at all levels of government have roles to play, and need to hear from constituents that safer, resilient, communications systems that protect the environment are important to you.

  • Support reforms that protect biodiversity. Setting of electromagnetic field exposure limits did not consider environmental impacts, so globally there are regulatory gaps that must urgently be addressed. Regulations must be updated with the expertise of biologists and wildlife experts to protect flora and fauna from biological effects of anthropogenic EMFs.
  • Limit construction of wireless antennas and related equipment in and near ecologically sensitive areas. 
  • Ensure that a full environmental assessment (EA) is done when wireless networks are being proposed in your community. A full EA includes alternatives assessment, so safer wired alternatives should also be considered.
  • Instead of 5G and wireless networks, support advanced future-proof broadband with a local distribution network with wired connections all the way up to and into homes and businesses. 
  • Halt 5G network deployment that uses sub-millimeter and millimeter wave networks, as these higher frequencies will uniquely impact bees and other insects. 
  • Support wired networks instead of wireless for internet (particularly where children may be exposed such as in schools), utilities (smart meters), industrial and other local needs.
  • Support transparency measures and data gathering. For example, radiofrequency radiation levels should be measured, and this data should be publicly available along with maps of wireless antennas, including for your community.

In your home

You can protect yourself and the environment by minimizing use of wireless devices. Here are some ideas:

  • Count up your wireless devices. Many of them can be swapped out for wired connections, which do not emit radiofrequency radiation or cause other equipment to do the same.
  • Choose wired and corded connections for the internet instead of Wi-Fi. 
  • Many people start by turning off Wi-Fi and wireless networks when not in use, such as at bedtime. 
  • Beware of “smart” devices like virtual assistants, DECT cordless phones, Wi-Fi printers and surveillance equipment such as baby monitors, which may emit radiofrequency radiation all the time (including beside vulnerable babies).  Check out safer wired alternatives. 
  • Set up your computer work station with ethernet and a corded keyboard, mouse, speakers and printer. 

With your cell phone 

Your cell phone emits wireless radiation, and also causes cellular antennas elsewhere to do the same.

  • Prefer texting instead of voice or video calls.
  • Use speakerphone instead of holding the phone to your head.
  • Choose a wired airtube headset, instead of wireless or Bluetooth headphones.
  • Do not sleep with the cell phone.
  • Do not carry the cell phone in a pocket or bra.
  • Text with the cell phone at a distance from the body instead of close to your chest.
  • Turn off apps that you are not using and disable background refresh for apps that don’t need it. Remember that every time an app refreshes, it is connecting to the internet, creating wireless exposures.
  • Set your phone to airplane mode or turn off any antennas you are not using at the time, such as: WiFi, Bluetooth, Cellular, Hotspot, Data, 4G, 5G  etc. 
  • Choose a corded landline instead of a cell phone or portable phone at home and work if possible.

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