Monday, 8 October 2012

My Wirral Globe Letters (and the reply they wouldn't print)

Leon's Lovely Letters to Local Papers

A Professor Barker, an officer of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, wrote a letter to the Wirral Globe, a local paper, stating that electrical fields, mobiles, wifi's are pretty much safe and we all really should not worry our little heads about it. He didn't cite any actual research but said his institute had peer-reviewed nearly all the literature and could reassure us all that any worries were completely unfounded. I cannot find his actual letter but here is a statement I found on the net which should cover his position accurately:

'Some studies showed an apparent link between the two variables (electrical radiation and ill-health) but Professor Barker’s talk also explained how the electromagnetic waves involved do not have enough energy to damage our tissues and it illustrated how difficult it is to research the causes of cancer in people who are exposed to many different risks all the time.' (My italics)

For more on a typical institute-funded one-sided white-wash see here;

Actually, even this brief statement above is misleading as there is an outlined mechanism shown in research whereby radiation not strong enough to break cell walls may affect organisms through, it is posited, disturbing the DNA, as outlined below. Anyway it doesn't matter what the mechanism is, biological effects of electrical radiation have been shown consistently.

Leon's reply to Professor Barker's comments, first printed in the Wirral Globe:

Dear Editor,

Thank-you for Professor’s Barker's comments. I am glad he reassures us that electro-magnetic fields are so safe. Perhaps he will consider that next time he is buying a house next to a cell tower or one is built near to a local school – I am sure he won’t mind. I had thought all academic papers were peer-reviewed. It’s just that some peers are influenced by the same forces – money and industry. This has been shown within the drug’s industry research (which tends to skew towards its ‘sponsor’s’ goals or is even ghost-written). The majority of research may indicate electro fields are safe so we can safely ignore, just like the mass media, all those important independent studies that show it isn’t safe. There is solid evidence microwave energy (wifi/mobiles) disturbs DNA and causes increased brain tumours amongst heavy mobile users. German schools have opted for no wifi in certain areas and the WHO has had to admit there are issues. A Swedish study found a large proportion of people are also significantly affected by other electrical fields from devices and cables (perhaps more than 3% of population). It’s a good job the landmark Interphone study was spun and misreported because now I don’t have to worry about the worrying conclusions in that too – great!

All the Best,

Leon Southgate

(I would like to point out that I actually am not aware whether the majority of research supports or contradicts the mainstream industry position that Professor Barker takes contrary to what I wrote above). 

The Globe then printed this reply to my letter, which also went on their website (unlike my letters which don't get put on their website for some reason).

Missed the point of Professor's letter

10:55am Wednesday 6th June 2012 in Letters
IN response to Leon Southgate's response to Professor Barker's letters regarding the effect of electro-magnetic fields, as a (retired) Chartered Electrical Engineer, I feel compelled to comment that Mr Southgate appears to have missed the point that Professor Barker was commenting in his capacity as an officer of the IET (formerly the IEE – Institute of Electrical Engineers). 

Mr Southgate says that he had thought that all academic papers were peer reviewed.
What he may have misunderstood is that the IET/IEE is the lead body in the UK for that peer review process in relation to electrical engineering matters, and indeed, is respected throughout the world as one of the two leading bodies globally for defining electrical standards and undertaking research.
Being an institute rather than an association, the institute is independent, promoting best electrical practice and knowledge, rather than representing industry or any industrial body. 

The institute's findings are based on the most thorough and controlled research carried out in the world into this topic. 

He refers to "all those important independent studies", yet the truth of the matter is that these are the claims (I hesitate to afford them the status of studies) that lack not only independence, but objectivity. Contrary to what he says, there is no solid evidence of the effects on DNA that he refers to, these claims being no more than anecdotal, with no support from evidence obtained from controlled tests, unlike the institute's findings.

They have also not been subject to the very peer review that he acknowledges is all important.
These claims are no more than scaremongering of an ilk very similar to the emotive, unfounded opposition to the MMR vaccine that has caused untold damage to an entire generation.
When we consider the enormous positive benefits that have emerged from mobile communications, including the ability to provide rapid response to health and other emergency situations, it is high time that we accepted the findings of the world’s leading authority in this matter. 

Roy Pemberton C.Eng MIET FCMI, West Kirby. 

My Reply to Mr Pemberton which the Wirral Globe didn't print or put on their website:

Dear Editor,

I came across Mr Pemberton’s reply to my comments on mobile safety whilst doing a blog-search. I would like to reply.

Mr Pemberton stated that there are no studies that offer ‘solid evidence’ mobiles affect DNA. This is misleading. Also to state that the evidence mobiles affect DNA is only anecdotal is again untrue. There is experimental evidence from a number of countries - surely Mr Pemberton is aware of this fact. Although he hesitated to call university-led, experimental papers that question mobile safety, actual ‘studies’ - perhaps he would prefer, ‘words-on-paper-about-research’ - they are ‘peer-reviewed’ nonetheless. Surely Mr Pemberton is aware that all published university papers have been through a peer-review process. Besides, nothing approaching irrefutable evidence exists for anything in science - that is the nature of objective science rather than rhetoric. Presumably this would include the evidence-base for the vaccines Mr Pemberton also championed in his letter (how exactly that is related to mobile phones remains unclear however).

Here are some of the studies on the possible effects of mobile radiation on  DNA -  Dr Lai, USA, Int J Radiat Biol, 1996; 69: 513–21, Prof’ Adlkofer, Vienna, DNA breakage by mobile radiation, Mutat Res, 2005; 583: 178–83. Researchers at Columbia University, NY, forward an effect, J Cell Biochem, 2003; 89: 48–55. Greek, German and Italian researchers also posit DNA effects.

The Lancet, the WHO, even some European governments are talking cautiously when studies such as Int Arch Occup Environ Health, 2006; 79: 630–9 found an increase in tumours with increased phone use. There are many other negative studies of course, or less-reported aspects of mainstream meta-studies that can't be dismissed in one fell swoop. But perhaps we shouldn't mention this in case we worry people, I don't want to accidentally spark any social unrest or harm a whole generation.

Incidentally, I am sure Mr Pemberton remembers that we still had an efficient emergency care service in Merseyside long before mobile phones. However, if we admitted there are issues we could still use the technology but adapt it to minimise any problems. However, the head in the sand approach means we never even get to the starting block.

Personally, I do use a mobile but never hold it against my head and I am careful of wifi and DECT land-phones.

All Best,

Leon Southgate

Some other local paper letters for your delectation:

Dear Editor,
I feel compelled to write in support of a previous letter. We are currently sleep-walking into a world where our every move is being monitored, controlled and dictated on the back of either incomplete or entirely fabricated scientific evidence. The CO2 'crisis' is part of such a malign control agenda. Carbon in the atmosphere causes plants to grow. It is a large and essential part of our chemical make-up. The atmosphere warms up and cools in cycles that may be mostly linked to the sun's output - which naturally waxes and wanes. After such changes there may be small movements in atmosphere CO2. Warming and CO2 are not causatively related. What the CO2 agenda is about is the largest tax rise in history, complete control of the world's governments and control of us as individuals. Lets not allow the world we pass on to our children to be a global dictatorship - its not far off if we continue to sleepwalk.

Dear Editor, just a short comment on the recent article about alcohol abuse amongst young people on the Wirral. 

Councillor Green appears to believe in Mr Blair's old election manifesto when it comes to alcohol - 'Education, Education Education'. It couldn't just be the case that having a fantastically cheap drug (alcohol), cheap enough to get 'high' for the price of a ten year old's pocket money might have anything to do with the current crisis? No of course not, don't be silly. What we need is more education. I bet that is what the drinks industry believes too. We wouldn't want to penalise the poor sensible drinker, heaven forbid if the sensible law-abiding public couldn't their favourite tipple for a knockdown price.


Leon Southgate
Councils in lumber over tree-felling  
11:06am Thursday 29th October 2009 in Letters 
Re: “Trees Hacked Down.”
Apparently other councils around the country are also waging campaigns against mature trees.
London and other councils are depriving people of many large trees just in case they become an insurance risk in the future -possibly by their inadvertantly dropping leaves on people.
Chopping down mature trees for no good reason is just insane.
On the one hand we are constantly reminded about reducing so-called greenhouse gases, and on the other the councils doing the reminding are busy chopping down trees for no good reason and without consultation.
Perhaps councils should also concrete over as many green fields as they can just in case their insurers say it is a future hayfever risk to the public.

Leon Southgate