A breathless report from IDG News
yesterday spread like a forest fire: Wi-Fi kills trees! Kills 'em dead! Oh n03s!!
Radiation from Wi-Fi networks is harmful to trees, causing significant variations in growth, as well as bleeding and fissures in the bark, according to a recent study in the Netherlands. All deciduous trees in the Western world are affected, according to the study by Wageningen University.
Hurray for credulity! Thousands of media sites and blogs picked up the story, adding new details, and rarely questioning the bizarre claim, despite the statement later in the same news item that only 20 trees were tested in one city, that researchers were not named, and it wasn't noted whether or not the study was published or peer reviewed.
I turned, as I always do, to Gawker's Valleywag to bring sense and perspective
to an issue. Wait. What? No, seriously. Valleywag's Adrian Chen found a public statement
from the Dutch spectrum regulator (translation
). The study took place indoors for three months with a variety of plants exposed to six Wi-Fi devices. Previous studies showed no harm. The work hasn't yet been published.
I suppose BoingBoing readers are used to hearing sensational claims based on small-cadre studies issued in advance of peer review. Nonetheless, this one seemed particularly strange. Perhaps it was the combination of environmental harm, the fear of radiation (electromagnetic or otherwise), and the imprimatur of a university. Urban trees, which were apparently part of the focus of this study, are under tremendous stress, and tree cover in cities worldwide has been drastically reduced, although efforts in many places are underway to counter this. My hometown of Seattle has a loosely organized plan
to plant hundreds of thousands of new trees in the coming years, for instance.
Remember what happens when the trees get pissed off
A commenter warns that all Northern hemisphere deciduous trees are currently undergoing some sort of chromatic die-off producing vast amounts of ground pollution and decay.
Top photo from Pripyat near Chernobyl by Timm Suess via Creative Commons. Yes, that's Suess, not Seuss. Photo of leaves by mksfly via Creative Commons.
A leaked recording made of a conference call posted by the Edison Electric Institute, which lobbies for the power industry, reveals lobbyists for high pollution companies talking about how they can exploit the Syrian refugee crisis to get a rider inserted into a pending bill that would kill the EPA’s Waters of the United States […]
The barb in trade agreements’ tail is the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, which lets companies sue governments to repeal rules that interfere with their profitability. It’s let tobacco giants fight anti-smoking campaigns, and now it’s letting fisheries attack rules aimed at preventing the wholesale slaughter of dolphins.
It’s been five years since the first cases of UK undercover police officers infiltrating environmental groups and tricking activists into having sex with them surfaced, and now, one of the survivors of the practice, “Lisa,” has granted her first-ever interview.
Today only in the Boing Boing Store we are offering an extra 15% off of the below VPN deals just use coupon code: VPN15 at checkout. proXPN VPN: Premium Lifetime Subscription Surf the web with ultimate peace of mind – both at home and on the road – over proXPN’s fully-encrypted, lightning-fast servers. Your lifetime premium subscription […]
These knitted gloves are here to save the day (and your hands) with an ultra-comfy, double-layer that will allow you to stay warm and use your phone. Now you can take photos on the fly, text, Tinder, and more without letting freezing temperatures get in your way. Plus they work with all touchscreens, so no […]
Store more on your Mac with this microSD memory card adapter.