SAVE THE PLANET: DITCH YOUR PHONE Transitioning to a Sustainable Future
by Arthur Firstenberg – Santa Fe, NM

cell phone

If Neil Armstrong had brought a cell phone to the moon in 1969, it would have appeared from earth, at night, to be the brightest object in the universe in the microwave spectrum. In the daytime, the sun would have been brighter, but at night, the cell phone would have outshone every star.

There is a reason cell phones are outlawed in Green Bank, West Virginia, home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory: even a single cell phone, even from miles away, would blind the radio astronomers there and make it impossible for them to see the stars. Astronomers measure radio waves in units called janskys. A typical star shines at 10 to 100 janskys. The Sun shines at about 500,000 janskys. When you hold a cell phone against your head, you are pumping energy at the rate of about 100,000,000,000,000,000 janskys into your brain.[1]

The impact of cell phone radiation, not only on human beings but on insects, animals, birds, and plants, has become an emergency threat to all life on earth. The evidence, amounting to tens of thousands of studies, has never been refuted, only ignored.

Neurosurgeon Leif Salford and his colleagues in Sweden found that a single two-hour exposure to a cell phone permanently destroys up to 2% of a rat’s brain cells. The experiments gave similar results even when the exposure level was reduced a hundredfold.[2] And in experiments on the blood-brain barrier, they reduced the exposure level ten thousand-fold and found that damage to the blood-brain barrier was worse when the exposure level was reduced.[3]

Does this mean that everyone who uses a cell phone has brain damage? Probably. Brain tissue has no pain receptors, so we don’t feel the injury. It also means that holding the phone away from your body does not protect you.

Spanish wildlife biologist Alfonso Balmori raised tadpoles on an apartment terrace near a cell tower. One tank was shielded from the radiation by a thin layer of fabric woven with metallic fibers. The shielded tadpoles all thrived; 90% of the unshielded tadpoles died.[4]

Botanist Katie Haggerty, wondering why aspen trees were declining in Colorado, raised 27 potted aspen seedlings in her backyard in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Nine pots were unshielded, nine were surrounded by aluminum screening, which kept out the radio waves, and nine were surrounded by fiberglass screening, which kept out just as much light but let in all the radio waves. After two months, the new shoots of the radio-shielded aspens were 74% longer, and their leaves 60% larger, than those of the other seedlings. In the fall, the mock-shielded and unshielded plants had sickly yellow to green leaves, covered with areas of decay. The radio-shielded aspen leaves were much bigger, free of decay, and brightly colored, the way aspens used to look every fall in Colorado: bright orange, yellow, green, dark red, and black.[5]

In 2009, Indian zoologist Neelima Kumar performed a landmark experiment in which she exposed honeybees to an ordinary cell phone. After just ten minutes, the concentrations of glucose, cholesterol, total carbohydrates, total lipids, and total proteins rose tremendously in the bees’ blood, or hemolymph, as it is called. In other words, after just ten minutes of exposure to a cell phone, the bees’ metabolism had shut down.[6] The explanation is simple: microwave radiation interferes with electron transport in the mitochondria of every cell. This interferes with metabolism. The body can no longer metabolize sugars, fats or proteins efficiently. It happens very quickly in bees because they have such a high rate of metabolism.

This also explains the alarming rise in diabetes, heart disease and cancer of the past few decades. When metabolism slows, sugars back up in the bloodstream, causing diabetes; fats back up and get deposited in arteries, causing heart disease; and the body is starved of oxygen, creating the conditions in which cancer cells thrive.[7] 

Not only bees, frogs, aspens, and humans, but all life, is exposed to the 8 billion cell phones in the world today, as well as to similar radiation from the millions of cell towers, and from the thousands of satellites in orbit around the earth.

Insects are disappearing everywhere on earth. In 2017, scientists reported that the number of flying insects in 63 protected nature areas in Germany had declined by 75 to 80 percent since 1989.[8] In September 2018, scientists reported that the number of insects caught in sticky traps in a Puerto Rican rainforest had declined, incredibly, by 97 to 98 percent since the 1970s.[9] And in January 2019, scientists from Australia concluded that these types of declines are occurring worldwide and among all types of insects.[10] Scientists are either blaming it on climate change or throwing up their hands and saying, “We don’t know why this is happening.”

But it has been happening for a long time. By 1906, 90% of the honey bees had disappeared from the Isle of Wight, where Marconi had established his first permanent radio station. The progression from “Isle of Wight disease” to “disappearing disease” to “colony collapse disorder” to “insect Armageddon” has brought us to the brink of catastrophe. We do know why, and it must, finally, be halted.

A terrible thing happened in 1996 and 1997: suddenly, one hundred million human beings began to hold microwave-radiating devices in their hands. Suddenly radio towers began to sprout like mushrooms across the landscape of half the world, in cities, country-sides, forests, parks, and nature preserves. Soon, and for the first time in history, every human being became a source of radiation. Today there are more cell phones than people on earth. Today, 40 per cent of the population in the U.S. are getting cancer. More than half of all adults have abnormal blood sugar. Worldwide, almost half a billion people have diabetes. Young people, in their twenties and thirties, even teenagers, are having strokes and heart attacks. For the first time in history, young men have lower sperm counts than their elders.[11]

On April 24, 2019, the health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield released a shocking report titled “The Health of Millennials.” The health of this generation takes a sharp decline at age 27. In just three years, between 2014 and 2017, among millennials and among millennials only, major depression increased 31%, hyperactivity increased 29%, type II diabetes increased 22%, hypertension increased 16%, psychoses increased 15%, high cholesterol increase 12%, and Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis increased 10%.[12]

Besides the direct harm they are causing, the 8 billion cell phones on earth are also creating an insatiable demand for connectivity, at all times and in all places, that is being supplied by the world’s cell towers and satellites. For those who use them, it does not matter how much or how little you use your phone. The problem is that if you own one at all, you expect it to work, however frequently or however rarely, anywhere you happen to be. That is why there have to be cell towers in nature preserves. That is why SpaceX is launching a constellation of 42,000 low-earth-orbit satellites, and OneWeb is launching another 47,000. They are merely doing what everyone wants them to do.

But it is destroying our planet. If we want birds, we cannot have antennas. If we want butterflies, we cannot have mobile phones. This can be a time of transition and healing, or it can be a time of extinction. It is up to us.


Arthur Firstenberg is a scientist, journalist and author who is at the center of a worldwide movement to reduce electromagnetic pollution. His book, The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life (Chelsea Green 2020), is the first book to tell the history of electricity from an environmental point of view. He is president of the Cellular Phone Task Force, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit,, and a co-author of the International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space, His work has been translated into 32 languages. He graduated in mathematics from Cornell University, and attended U.C. Irvine School of Medicine from 1978 to 1982. Injury by x-ray overdose cut short his medical career. For the past 38 years he has been a researcher, consultant and lecturer on the health and environmental effects of electromagnetic radiation.

[1] 1 jansky = 10-26 mW/m2/Hz. The values given are for cell phone frequencies.

[2] Salford LG, Brun AE, Eberhardt JL et al. “Nerve cell damage in mammalian brain after exposure to microwaves from GSM mobile phones.” Environ Health Perspect 2003 Jun; 111:881-3.

[3] Persson BRR, Salford LG, Brun A. “Blood-brain barrier permeability in rats exposed to electromagnetic fields used in wireless communications.” Wireless Networks 1997 Nov; 3:455-61.

[4] Balmori A. “Mobile phone mast effects on common frog (Rana temporaria) tadpole: the city turned into a laboratory.” Electromagn Biol Med 2010 Jun; 29:31-5.

[5] Haggerty K. “Adverse influence of radio frequency background on trembling aspen seedlings: preliminary observations.” Intl J For Res 2010 May 13; article ID 836278.

[6] Kumar NR, Sangwan S, Badotra P. “Exposure to cell phone radiations produces biochemical changes in worker honey bees.” Toxicol Int 2011 Jan; 18:70-72 (2011).

[7] Firstenberg A. The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life, chapters 11, 12 and 13. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green 2020.

[8] Hallmann CA, Sorg M, Jongejans E et al. “More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas.” PLoS ONE 2017 Oct 18; 12:e0185809.

[9] Lister BC, Garcia A. “Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 2018 Oct. 30; 115:E10397-E10406.

[10] Sánchez-Bayo F, Wyckhuys KAG. “Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers.” Biol Conserv 2019 Apr; 232:8-27.

[11] Centola GM, Blanchard A, Demick J et al. “Decline in sperm count and motility in young adult men from 2003 to 2013: observations from a U.S. sperm bank.” Andrology 2016 Mar; 4:270-6.

[12] Blue Cross Blue Shield. The Health of Millennials. April 24, 2019.


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