If Surgeon General C. Everett Koop Were Pope, Would Antennas Be Installed in Church Steeples?
Op-Ed by Patricia Burke
“…establishing and activating a 5G-network — as it is currently described — will contravene current human and environmental laws enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights, the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, EU regulations, and the Bern- and Bonn-conventions protecting natural habitat and migrating species.”
“The Council on Health Safe Telecommunications” in cooperation with the Danish EHS Association, MayDay and The Danish Institute of Public Health
Dear Pope Francis,
A petition is gathering signatures, requesting that you “Declare A Moratorium on Antennas in Churches, and Investigate Environmental and Health Impacts of Wireless Exposures.”
The petition notes the extensive history of the Church bringing issues of social injustice to the attention of the world community. For example, the Church invited Catholics to take action to defend migrant workers, and to boycott companies exploiting poor mothers in South America.
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As reported by Women of Grace, in the article, “Vatican Newspaper Takes on Melinda Gates and Nestle,” posted on July 30, 2012 by Susan Brinkmann,
L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See’s official daily newspaper, has gone on the offensive against wealthy philanthropic institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Nestle for using their millions to provide third world women with dangerous forms of contraception and breast milk substitutes.
… the Vatican newspaper [ ] also rebuked Nestle for its controversial and dangerous breast milk substitute campaign. As L’Osservatore explains: “The multinational company notoriously and in a cunning and improper manner supplied African women with free packs of dried milk for their newborn children. These lasted just enough time for the mothers to lose their natural milk. Mothers were then forced to purchase the dried milk, lured by advertisement campaigns which presented breast feeding as barbaric and the artificial method as the modern and civilized alternative; the campaign was furthered through various forms of psychological pressure exercised by elusive doctors and nurses. A need was therefore created in the name of charity and with profit in mind.Nestle, which holds about 50 percent of the world’s breast milk substitute market, claims that malnourished mothers are unable to breast feed their infants, even though health organizations say there is no evidence to support these claims. babies who are bottle-fed are up to 10 times more likely to develop gastro intestinal infections, but in the Third World, where clean water is hard to find, can make these substitutes much more dangerous and even deadly. Boycotts have been launched against Nestle.”
Now, we are grateful to the Church for drawing attention to the risks associated with Artificial Intelligence, and for recently addressing rampant cellphone use and its impact on society.
But the world needs you to do more.
We ask that the Church, under your leadership, take urgent and immediate action regarding lack of safety, security, and sustainability of wireless technologies.
There is ample evidence to show that mobile technology contributes significantly to humanity’s carbon and ecological footprint, as well as ozone and resource depletion, which will be made far worse with 5G due to the launch of thousands of satellites in the sky, the implementation of billions of new transmitters, and the production of trillions of new gadgets. Impoverished countries are being directly exploited due to conflict mineral mining and e-waste issues.
Wireless technologies create and exacerbate preventable risks to society, including internet addiction involving both children and adults, surveillance, privacy invasion, cyber safety vulnerability, excessive energy consumption, environmental degradation, and reported health issues.
Wireless technologies will exacerbate rather than address the “Digital Divide.” The digital divide is a symptom of the economic divide, also exacerbated by the telecom industry, which concentrates further wealth, control, and power in the hands of the few.
Wired, cabled telecommunications systems reduce or eliminate many unnecessary risks. Wired connectivity does not result in the potential abuses of power, environmental destruction, surveillance, and health and environmental issues associated with wireless technologies.
The demand for faster, more ubiquitous connectivity is being cultivated by the industry itself, as well as traders in the commodities and investment markets, and governments enamored with wide-scale citizen surveillance who serve the interests of industry, rather than the citizenry.
As the result of the current pandemic crisis, the threat of disaster capitalism and decision-based evidence-making, enabled by AI, is a planetary and human rights emergency.
By hosting cellphone towers in steeples, the Church is participating in, and benefiting financially from, the burgeoning wireless paradigm. This places the Church in a position of responsibility to ensure that the Church itself is not exploiting, or endangering others.
If The Surgeon General Were Pope: Lessons from Tobacco and HIV/AIDS
Individual change-makers have influenced society in dramatic ways throughout history. The U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop changed history when he went against the corrupt tobacco lobby to provide Americans with independent, scientific data about the dangers of cigarette smoking. With accurate information, consumers chose to protect their health, and smoking rates dropped. Regulations were also passed protecting the public from ubiquitous, involuntary second-hand exposures.
As the U.S. Surgeon General under President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, he put health before politics and sought to educate American families on preventable diseases, especially the HIV epidemic and the harm of tobacco use and exposure.
As early as 1982, Dr. Koop publicly reported “that nicotine was as addictive as heroin, warned against the hazards of secondhand smoke and updated the warning labels on cigarette packs” (Washington Post). He encouraged nonsmokers to be empowered and to stand up for their right to lead healthy lives. Authoring more than 200 articles and books while improving millions of lives worldwide, Dr. Koop went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1995.
In an atmosphere of fear, terror, suspicion, discrimination, and violence, the Surgeon General also changed the course of history when he gave Americans accurate information about AIDS.
By far, though, the most pressing and divisive topic that he dealt with during his tenure as Surgeon General was the emerging AIDS crisis. HIV and AIDS had not yet been identified when Koop took office. During his confirmation hearing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported five cases of homosexual men in Los Angeles who were dying from Pneumocystis pneumonia, a rare form of the disease that mostly struck people with weakened immune systems. A month later, the CDC reported 26 men who had Kaposi’s sarcoma, a rare skin cancer. The National Library of Medicine notes that during his forty year career, Dr. Koop had seen only two cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma and he knew instantly that this was going to be a serious public health crisis.
Over the next few years, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was identified by researchers in the United States and France who then linked it to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). In those early days without a cure or a vaccine, many were arguing that the only way to stop the spread was to test everyone and quarantine all of those infected. (I was in high school at the time and I remember a mock Senate in which three separate bills were introduced to send all HIV-positive individuals to Alaska.)
Even early on, Koop took a different view. He thought that quarantine was unnecessary from an epidemiological point of view (this was not the bubonic plague) and was an infringement on individual’s rights, and he believed that mandatory testing would drive people underground. He argued for confidential testing and widespread public education to prevent the spread. And, he believed this was exactly the right role for him: “if ever there was a disease made for a Surgeon General, it was AIDS.”
But he was prevented from doing so by the White House. In fact, during Reagan’s first term, Koop was deliberately left out of the Administration’s discussions of the epidemic and kept off of its Executive Task Force on AIDS—journalists were instructed not to ask him about the issue.
Without Koop, the Reagan Administration famously did nothing to address the AIDS epidemic. Koop would later write that: “Our first public health priority, to stop the further transmission of the AIDS virus, became needlessly mired in the homosexual politics of the early 1980s. We lost a great deal of precious time because of this, and I suspect we lost some lives as well.” Then, in 1986, Reagan asked his Surgeon General to prepare a report about AIDS.
The 36-page report explained AIDS in plain language that everyone could understand. It said how it was spread, how it was not spread, and how it could be prevented. It advocated for condom use and condom education campaigns. And it advocated for sex education for all students in the third grade and above.
The following year Koop took his report directly to the American public in an eight-page, condensed version of the report, called What Every American Needs to Know About AIDS, that was mailed to all 107,000,000 households in the United States. It was the largest mailing in American history and the first time that the federal government provided explicit sex information to the public.
Joan Garrity, a colleague of mine who started doing HIV counseling and testing at the very beginning of the epidemic, recalled the import of that mailing for me:
“No one knew anything then. There was just a small subset of us in the health care field working with people who had AIDS; working with non-heterosexual people. But there was misunderstanding, misperception, and discrimination everywhere. I remember a magazine cover that said there was no way a heterosexual could get AIDS. To have the Surgeon General take the step to send this information to everyone was just amazing.
When Tobacco Scientists Provide the Science For the Wireless Industry
C Everett Koop’s decisions prevented avoidable and unnecessary suffering, and saved countless lives.
Individuals and their health care providers who have associated adverse health effects with microwave radiation exposure experience ridicule, discrimination, harassment, and lack of accommodation. This marginalization of victims has happened many times before, across many industries. Perhaps there has never been a more extensive planetary bullying paradigm than the wireless industry’s lobbying and control of the narrative in the media, via advertising dollars as well as strategic business partnerships.
The industry and its regulators have admitted that exposure limits may not protect all individuals in all circumstances. When the Vatican was found liable for the increase in leukemia rates near its radio towers, it was the Vatican, and not the telecom industry, that was held liable. The fact that insurers refuse to provide liability coverage, and that telecom companies have warned their investors that they may face expensive lawsuits regarding health damages, has been suppressed in the industry-controlled media.
Divesting From Fossil Fuels While Supporting Wireless Paradigms is A Fatal Error From Which the Ecosystem and Humanity May Not Recover
Many groups and organizations have focused on divesting from fossil fuel companies, including the Church. But the Church has not questioned the science that underlies the wireless industry’s claims about the efficiency, sustainability, security, and safety of wireless technologies.
In the United States, proposed legislation negates the requirement for environmental review for antenna placement and satellites. And in the U.S., facilities hosting telecommunications antennas are required to accommodate other carriers, forcing host churches further into partnership with additional monopoly telecom providers. Accounting scandals remain unaddressed. Forceful overrun of zoning protections is occurring.
Censorship of citizen concern is rampant worldwide, and not based on independent scientific investigation, pre-market safety testing, or human rights abuse inquiry.
Pope Francis, you are in a unique position of reverence, responsibility, and power.
C Everett Koop is remembered for placing health before politics in the case of tobacco, and science before personal ideology regarding AIDS.
You can elevate legitimate science, and to place health and the environment before greed and exploitation.
Infant Formula, Cigarettes, Cellphones, and Covid
Poor mothers in Africa receive “free” supplies from Nestle to manipulate them into becoming consumers of inferior dried milk. Now, due to the pandemic, generations of school children have been insidiously introduced to wireless devices when safer, more secure wired connectivity is possible.
As history of tobacco demonstrated, when given accurate health information, consumers make decisions to protect their health. Like tobacco, cellphone and social media use is addictive. Like tobacco, the need for protection from secondhand involuntary exposures is crucial.
Like tobacco, rates of addiction to technology, including addiction in children, are mounting. While wired technologies offer inherent limitations to access, the wireless, always-on, always-available paradigm contributes to the risk of dependence and addiction, in addition to the issue of involuntary, ubiquitous, inescapable environmental exposure.
Like the Surgeon General, you are in a position to address preventable disease associated with an artificial EMF environment, not just limited to brain cancer in cellphone users, which is another page out of the tobacco playbook. The increase in neurological death rates, especially for older women in the U.S., including Alzheimer’s, and the rising rates on autism, must be examined relative to EMF exposures.
The Covid-19 pandemic is demonstrating that humanity can respond to protect the vulnerable by changing their behaviors. Decision-makers have imposed significant restrictions on commerce in order to protect health-vulnerable groups.
A similar response is needed to prevent further expansion of the wireless paradigm.
The time for action is now. You are in a position to confront the “science” and advocate for the environmental and human rights issues.
- We ask that you call for an immediate moratorium on the installation of any additional next-generation wireless antennas in Catholic churches, worldwide.
- We ask that you call for an immediate, deadline-driven, independent, science-based examination of the health data regarding human radio frequency exposure limits, before any additional infrastructure is installed.
- We ask that the Church provide advocacy and protection to the marginalized populations worldwide experiencing ridicule, discrimination, and lack of accommodation due to their vulnerability to wireless exposures.
The Church is currently aligned with unethical industry scientists and corporate greed.
Recognizing that Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, we ask that the Vatican adopt a moral-driven stance regarding the placement of cell antennas in its church steeples. Matthew 21 verse 12: And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, “It is written, my house shall be called the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”
John 2 verse 16: “Take these things hence, make not my father’s house an house of merchandise.”