‘Fireworks’ at Take Back Your Power Screening in Dublin, CA; Heated RF Debate Erupts at “Movie Night”
By Josh Hart, Director Stop Smart Meters!
Last weekend, I was invited to speak at a Take Back Your Power screening in Dublin (California, not Ireland- where I spoke in June) at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) hall. The IBEW recently joined more than 900 individuals and organizations who submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission’s review of current RF guidelines. In the IBEW’s comments, they stated that the FCC’s existing regulations “have no practical application to provide (radiofrequency) safety.” (IBEW letter pdf) If anyone knows whether something is safe or not, it is probably the people who work around it all day.
Ironically, we are told that this hall in Dublin where Take Back Your Power was screened is where Jerry McNerney, the congressman who introduced the Smart Grid Advancement Act, launched his political career. The bill would promote (some say mandate) ‘smart’ meters and require wireless chips in consumer appliances to qualify for the Energy Star efficiency program. Several attendees at the event said they knew the man personally and afterwards some spoke about sending him a copy of the film.
About two dozen people showed up including scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBL), under contract to the Dept. of Energy (DOE), and one Oracle employee involved in meta-analysis of the mountains of smart meter data that are being generated- essentially the electronic signature of what goes on in your home, stored in a server farm.
When public doubts about the safety of the ‘smart’ grid began to reach a fevered pitch, LBL published a set of stilted, selective and inaccurate (but convincing-sounding) public responses to a smart meter inquiry at the Michigan Public Services Commission. Why all the fuss to do damage control about an issue they claim isn’t even worthy of investigation? The telecommunications industry, ‘smart’ grid program, defense industry- really the entire military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about– is based on microwave transmissions. If the public understood the truth and more importantly- acted on it, all of this could be at risk. Thus, the robust response from the LBL and the resistance from those scientists steeped in its dogma.
After the screening, a woman named Joanne who has a pacemaker told her story about how the ‘smart’ meter affected her health when it was installed. When she called PG&E (must have been in 2010 or 2011) there was a nice man on the phone who warned her that the new meter might cause interference with her medical device. PG&E came right away and changed it to an analog and didn’t charge her a fee for 2 years. Now they have started charging even Joanne as the utilities go into lockdown zip-lip mode, not admitting to any possible health or safety effects even as thousands get sicker and fires consume homes and businesses like popcorn (you never know when the next one will go pop.)
Lots of skepticism from some in the audience, even after hearing from Dr. David Carpenter, Olle Johansson and the other experts interviewed in the film. One audience member told Joanne (and you know we’ve all heard this before), “I know you believe you feel these things- I know it’s real for you…but…” Yet most people in the room were fairly horrified at what Joanne was describing.
Ellie Marks, whose husband Alan suffers from a cell phone caused brain tumor, was there to speak out and came to my defense when the temperature in the room shot up and emotions ran high. (Thanks Ellie!)
If you have seen the film I Am, it reminds us that science does not contain a set of fixed truths about the world. (The film also suggests we can “talk” not only to yogurt, but to other animals and plants through our heart’s own electromagnetic field, an emerging line of scientific inquiry). At one time it was a “scientific fact” that the Earth was flat and was the center of the universe. Doctors cheerfully smoked cigarettes. We x-rayed our kids’ feet at shoe shops. Science is a process of inquiry, not a static body of fact and law. If “scientists” are rejecting out of hand people’s self-reported ‘smart’ meter induced symptoms as “anecdotal” or somehow “not objective” they are introducing a bias that is protective of the status quo, one that uses ridicule and doubt as tools to perpetuate itself. Such a rejection without inquiry of thousands of reports of health problems from ‘smart’ meters represents not just misguided science but a sociopathic recklessness as well as an infantile clinging to a comfortable and profitable worldview.
The Earth is not a machine. Neither are the people nor the plants and other animals who inhabit it. Yet that worldview infects practically all aspects of our culture, mechanizing our lives and leading to degradation, suffering, and alienation. The truly scientific reaction to thousands of people reporting physical symptoms after a novel, radiation-emitting device is installed on their home would be one of precaution, inquiry and curiosity- investigate the issue further, and get to the bottom of it. Which is what hundreds of people are doing, mostly on a grassroots, individual level. Doing the job of the captured regulatory agencies and atrophied governments.
The industry on the other hand is attempting to (in the words of Motorola) “war game the science.” There is a war being waged to hide the truth from you, and we are funding that war through our taxes. While governments, universities and industry circle the wagons to protect their interests, the individuals who make up these institutions appear increasingly to be growing leery of this “war game” of shoddy science and spin being waged against the people. I had to wonder- did we have a future Thomas Drake or Edward Snowden there with us on Saturday night? Someone inspired to take great personal risk for the benefit of us all?
Back in the Dublin IBEW meeting room, after the credits rolled and people blinked as the fluorescent lights were switched on, you could almost see the walls of stubborn, fixed belief in the “official” scientific regime beginning to crumble. People’s cognitive dissonance in full defense mode. A lifetime of thinking in a certain way and sudden flecks of doubt. They wanted to leave and get away but at the same time could not. The genie could not be stuffed back in the bottle no matter how hard they might try. I’ve never seen faces turn so red.
One couple in particular were really steamed- a guy with a PhD in physics and his wife, a former nurse. She said I reminded her of “Sarah Palin” (that is a first!) and that the film was “hyperbole,” but it was clear that it really got to her. She said “I thought this was going to be a film about smart meters- and now you are talking about cell phones!” I tried to explain that within the smart meter debacle contained many connections to other larger issues: RF health, privacy, government corruption, etc.
People were interrupting me and each other and the hour and a half discussion afterwards became really heated. It was truly a cathartic event- people expecting a regular Saturday movie night at the IBEW hall instead had their assumptions about the world firmly shaken. The organizer said no film she has ever shown has had that effect before. That is what Take Back Your Power, and public debates that result, have catalyzed in audiences all over the world.
One scientist claimed that it was “impossible for RF waves to affect human cells in any way because the wavelength was too large.” Others were wondering how the switch mode power supplies (SMPS- that convert AC to DC within the meters) could cause so much more dirty electricity than those contained in other electronics. (Maybe the scientists and medical professionals reading this could comment on these questions.) The important thing is that people were engaged with the subject. Fired up. And that’s what matters.
There were electrical engineers there, scientists, and doctors- people who may not otherwise have taken steps to see the film for themselves, but who are regular attendees of movie night. To their credit, they came out to see a controversial film and engage with it in public, not just sit there at home watching TV. Many of them were still not completely convinced at the end of it- but I definitely saw seeds of recognition and change sprouting within them and I think we did really get through to some of them in a deep way.
We sold several DVD’s at the end, and connected with the head of the local IBEW chapter. In his work as an electrician, he wears RF protective clothing while working on electronics of cell towers, and is required to limit his exposure to the high levels found near the towers. We discussed the schizophrenic attitude society has toward RF. He knows this stuff is dangerous from personal experience- this is no abstract science to those in harm’s way- and that includes smart meter installers let’s not forget.
One man, in addressing the naysayers at the end of the discussion stood up and said, “Even if you don’t believe in the health impacts, surely you can see that we have a major problem on our hands if people are being arrested for refusing an unwanted device on their own home!” He’s right. Nearly a year later there is still a sense of unreality about the Naperville arrests that took place, where people were arrested simply for refusing permission to install a smart meter on their homes. That situation needs to be put right.
Bottom line: I would rather show Take Back Your Power to a room of skeptics and have a heated controversy erupt (even if it gets ugly- as it did, briefly) that changes minds rather than preach to the choir of people who already believe it. Though motivating the true believers and helping to spur action is also important.
In addition to the screenings we are holding by renting out halls and advertising, it is just as important- if not more so- to show the film to existing groups- in churches, union halls, rotary clubs, schools, etc. You get a wider diversity of people and really get the chance to engage with and change people’s views, thus widening the movement.
We can’t get angry with people who don’t believe the truth that RF from ‘smart’ meters (and cell and cordless phones, iPads, towers, wi-fi and all the other toxic tech) is causing an epidemic of health problems. Some people ridicule and attack us for even suggesting it, digging in their heels to stop history and deny reality. This is just a defensive psychological reaction. And it’s an important part of the process. It’s the walls coming down.
These people will come around, or their views will gradually become eclipsed by a new paradigm. We can’t change people overnight- it’s a process and we need to engage with people where they are – not where we want them to be. This is probably good advice whether you are speaking to a church group or sitting around the Thanksgiving table with your family. Seek the truth and speak it, be unapologetic, and confident that we will prevail. Do what it takes to bring out the message even if it requires more bravery than you’ve ever mustered, or it’s uncomfortable, messy, or inconvenient.
And whatever you do, never give up your power to anyone. If you realize you’ve given it up, take it back. It’s your birthright. It’s also a really great documentary that is making waves.
“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion”
“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul”