Killer Cell Phones: Why Honeybees Are Dying Worldwide

Have you heard the news? In just the last ten years or so, the world’s honeybee population has taken a huge dive-and nobody seems to know why. I found this out myself recently by reading an article called “Bees Feel the Sting: The buzz on the worldwide decline in honeybee populations,” which appeared as the lead story in the September/October 2011 issue of Science Illustrated. According to this article, a group of French biologists is attaching tiny microchips to honeybees to track their daily behavior patterns in an effort to learn what’s killing them. Suspected causes of the unprecedented global honeybee dieoff include pests, predators, disease, pesticide sprays, climate change, and mobile phones. One single factor can be enough to do the bees in, as researcher Cedric Alaux of the Laboratoire Biologie et Protection de l’abeille admitted to Science Illustrated: “We cannot rule out that there is one single factor behind it all that influences the bees in a negative way.”

To identify that factor, the key question we should ask is: What on earth has changed so drastically in the last ten years that would cause billions of honeybees to perish? There has been no drastic change in nature or the global environment that can adequately explain this occurrence. Honeybee pests and predators have been around for centuries, and although their numbers have fluctuated, their populations have not exploded recently as far as I know. Diseases have similarly come and gone. Our climate has been changing recently, but not so drastically or in such a short time period as to explain the mass disappearance of a single insect species.

Thus we can reasonably rule out any natural causes for the world’s honeybee population plunge, and it makes sense to look for the culprit among possible artificial (i.e. manmade) causes. Although pesticide sprays have been in use for decades, their worldwide use has not increased dramatically in recent years; if anything, it has declined as the popularity of organic farming continues to grow.

The only other suspected manmade cause of the honeybees’ death is mobile phones (i.e. cell phones)-or, more precisely, the radio waves emitted by cell phones. Here we’re on to something, because in the last ten years the world’s use of cellular telephones has exploded dramatically, and an ever-growing global network of transmitter towers established to meet this demand now continuously fills much of the Earth’s air with a thick invisible web of electromagnetic radiation. Moreover, the negative effects of this artificial radiation on living organisms are already well known and documented by scientists. (Take, for example, the well-established link between increased cell phone use and increased rates of human brain cancer.) Furthermore, the steepest declines in honeybee populations have been observed in the United States and Europe-where use of mobile phones is greater than anywhere else in the world.

Nothing matches the worldwide decline in honeybee population like the worldwide increase in cellular telephone transmissions during the same time frame. Thus, it is reasonable to draw a link between the two and theorize that the former is the main cause of the latter.

But, some might say, the basis for this supposed theory is rather circumstantial. Is there any real, convincing evidence for it? Yes, there is. In a study conducted last year, researchers at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India fitted cell phones to a beehive and activated them twice a day for 15 minutes each. Within three months, honey production had ceased, the queen laid half as many eggs, and the hive population had fallen significantly.

But the effect of mobile phone towers on bees is even more drastic than that of individual phones. Barbara Hughes, a columnist for the Catholic Virginian who has been visiting the Franciscan monastery at Mission San Luis Rey in California, recently visited a Benedictine abbey near the mission. She related the following in the August 22, 2011 edition of the paper:

One of the monks, who has been a bee keeper at the Abbey for 40 years, explained how until numerous cell phone towers were constructed on the back of their property, he had been collecting 100 gallons of honey a week.

But as the use of cell phones expanded, all of his bees died within a few weeks until he discovered a small area near the base of the hill where he could not get cell phone service. Once he moved his hives to that particular area, the bees once again began to thrive and reproduce.

This anecdote is a graphic example of the danger that mobile phone radiation poses to honeybees. The radiation may be interfering with the bees’ built-in navigational systems, disorienting them and preventing them from finding their way back to their hives, as many researchers think. Or it may be killing them in a more direct fashion. However it works, it’s clear that radio waves from cell phones are lethal to bees. Additional future studies will continue to confirm and bear this out.

The typical cell phone transmitter tower is a veritable beehive of electromagnetic activity. At any given moment it can be sending and receiving the radio transmissions of 10 to 25 different phone calls. A whole row of transmitter towers can process thousands of calls simultaneously. Try to imagine what all the radio waves from all the towers just in your local area would look like, filling the air all around you. If we had the capability to see radio waves, we would be blown away. Thus cell phone towers pose a much more serious threat to living organisms than individual phones because they emit much more concentrated doses of radiation. When we consider that the radiation of a single mobile phone can cause brain cancer in a human being at an early age, it’s not difficult to imagine the deadly effect that thousands of times that radiation would have on a much smaller living creature.

In fact, the gradual, slight decline in world honeybee populations observed over the course of the twentieth century (which preceded the current precipitous decline) was probably due to the gradual establishment of radio stations and transmitters all over the world. Moreover, it is possible that radio waves crisscrossing our atmosphere from Earth-orbiting communications satellites as well as from more recently developed GPS satellites, satellite radio systems, and especially wireless Internet systems, all play minor contributing roles in the current honeybee population crisis. The lesson to be learned from this is that radio waves kill bees–and the world’s more than five billion mobile telephones combined generate more artificial radio emissions by far than all other currently operating high-tech inventions on Earth put together. See “List of countries by number of cell phones in use,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use

The typical modern handheld cell phone is a staple of globalized twenty-first century life-and it’s not hard to understand why. It’s a technological wonder, a marvel of electronic miniaturization and digital engineering, and a powerful tool of communication and entertainment whose convenience can’t be beat. With it we can not only send and receive calls but also text messages and emails; we can take pictures, make audio recordings, store textual information, listen to music, access the Internet (and all that that entails), watch videos, read e-books, play games-the capabilities are endless. Cell phones allow us to stay connected like nothing else. Who ever thought this nifty little multi-purpose gadget would pose a threat to the environment?

It’s unfortunate, but true: Within just the last ten years, the increasingly widespread and heavy global use of these handy devices has placed the world’s honeybee population at risk. We are literally buzzing the bees out of existence. Meanwhile, the global pace of construction of new mobile phone towers continues unabated, and worldwide cell phone transmissions continue increasing by the day, filling the Earth’s atmosphere with more and more artificial radio waves. If this trend continues into the next few years, we can expect further drastic reductions in the global honeybee population.

What would happen if honeybees became extinct? We would lose a lot more than just good-tasting natural honey. Honeybees play a critical role in the world’s food chain: they pollinate 75 percent of all the crops consumed by humans, many of which are also consumed by animals. Thus the extinction of honeybees would precipitate a global food crisis of almost unthinkable proportions. I don’t think any of us want to see that happen! Human survival is dependent on the survival of honeybees.

Given the enormity of the stakes involved, it is imperative that we take decisive measures soon to protect the endangered honeybees. This is not like trying to save the Pyrenean Ibex, the Golden Toad, the Javan Tiger, or the Alaotra Grebe (a bird of Madagascar that was officially declared extinct last year). All of these animal species have become extinct since the conservation movement began, but due to their isolated habitats and limited distribution, their extinction had little if any impact on the overall global food chain. The extinction of the honeybee would be an entirely different matter. Because of its worldwide distribution and the key role this little insect plays in crop growth, its demise would be catastrophic for a large percentage of life on earth.

So what can we do to save the honeybees? Here are a few ideas:

1) Spread the word. Tell everyone you know about what you’ve learned in this article. The more people who know about it, the better.

2) Use your cell phone less. Keep it turned off most of the time if you can. Note that you don’t have to make a call to send destructive radiation through the air-just turning the unit on will do that.

3) Buy land phones, which don’t emit harmful radio waves, for your home and office, and use your mobile phone for calls only when away from those places. A cordless land phone offers the best of both worlds-it allows more mobility than a traditional corded land telephone but emits less harmful radiation than a cell phone.

4) At the local level, cities, counties and states could pass ordinances and laws preventing the construction of additional cell phone towers in certain areas (as long as this does not conflict with federal law).

5) Since honeybees continue to flourish in areas without mobile phone service, it would make common sense for the governments of individual countries (especially in the United States and Europe) to review their existing communications policies and enact stricter nationwide regulations for cell phone transmissions.

6) Since more than 9 in 10 Americans now own mobile phones See “List of countries by number of cell phones in use,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use, a permanent nationwide moratorium on the construction of new cell phone towers should be seriously considered.

7) Our federal government could build on the model of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile area straddling the Virginia-West Virginia border that was set aside in 1958 to protect the National Radio Astronomy Observatory from unwanted manmade radio interference. Within this zone, artificial radio transmissions, including cell phone services, are limited but not entirely eliminated. Similar protected zones could be established in America’s sprawling, thinly-populated agricultural regions (such as in the middle states and parts of California) where cell phone services are less in demand and where honeybees are especially needed to pollinate the crops that feed much of the world.

Such efforts to curtail cellular phone transmissions, for the good of honeybees and for our own good, will likely be met with powerful opposition from the big mobile phone companies like AT&T and Verizon. These huge businesses make a killing on cell phones, netting hundreds of billions of dollars annually, so their multibillionaire kings will not take kindly the least threat to the continued expansion of their global empire. They don’t really care what happens to the bees (or to us) as long as they can keep their annual profits swelling. Thus they’ll conveniently deny any connection between cell phone use and declining bee rates (just as they denied that there was any connection between cell phone use and brain cancer). But such opposition shouldn’t discourage us–because denying an inconvenient truth doesn’t make it go away.

Cell Phones in Schools – The Great Debate

With today’s technological advances making cell phones pervasive into nearly every aspect of people’s lives, it comes as no surprise that cell phones in schools have become a hotly debated topic. There are advocates on both sides: some claim that cell phones are an inappropriate distraction during school hours, others embrace students’ familiarity with them and utilize them in class. While the jury is still out, both sides do have some intriguing points.

Mobile phone advocates claim many benefits to using the devices in educational settings; some of these advantages include:

  • Parental Involvement. Students can use cellular phones equipped with cameras to take pictures of projects they complete in class, such as group projects that utilize only class time. Generally, in these situations, students do not conduct any research or assembly of such projects at home, so parents do not get to see the result of their child’s efforts in the classroom. Allowing students to use cell phones in this capacity encourages parental involvement in their child’s life, as well as supporting their educational development.
  • Missing Assignments. Teachers can enact a buddy system in which students email or text each other with the details of assignments their buddy missed due to an absence. This will save teachers valuable time they would have otherwise spent assembling makeup packets, and will instill a sense of responsibility among students for themselves and each other.
  • Note-Taking. Students that have problems keeping up in class when taking notes can utilize the camera feature of their mobile phone to snap photos of the notes and save them for later studying and showing parents or tutors, as well as classmates who may have missed part of them. Teachers can also incorporate taking photos of notes into their buddy system for missing assignments, and allow students to forward missed information during class time to absent classmates, and likewise allow them to receive such information if they are absent.
  • Real-World Tools. Cell phones usually have features such as calculators, which most high school math classes require. Using the calculator function of their cell phone can teach students the real-world skill of utilizing what they have on hand to calculate mathematical problems in their everyday lives.
  • Improving Focus. Students with cell phones that feature music capabilities and ear buds can use them during homework periods or times of otherwise independent study. Many students find listening to music a relaxing study habit and studies of learning styles indicate that some students learn best while listening to music while working problems or reading. Students who are comfortable while studying are more likely to study longer, more often, and produce more positive results than those who do not listen to music.

On the other hand, many believe that cell phones will only contribute to already existing problems in schools, such as cheating, disrespecting teachers and staff, and instigating trouble amongst other students; some even cite the possibility of utilizing cell phones for illegal activities during school.

  • Cheating. Using a cell phone, regardless of the age of the user or the location from which they use the phone, comes with responsibility. Some advocates of banning cell phones in schools state that utilizing the camera function of a cell phone enables students to cheat on tests by snapping photos of answer keys, test contents, or the answers on a neighbor’s paper.
  • Disrespect. Students could use their phones for all sorts of mischief in class, including using the audio recording function of them to record teachers or other staff during lectures or other conversations without them being aware of the recording. Students could then use those recordings to take the speaker’s words out of context and present them in a manipulative light.
  • Instigating Trouble. Students can use their cell phones during school to cause problems amongst students and bully others. School-related violence and cases of bullying are on the rise, and officials already have their hands full dealing with problematic students and keeping order in their institutions; allowing students to use devices such as cell phones during school hours will make such problems easier to perpetrate and harder to control.
  • Illegal Activities. Students can use cell phones during school to carry out illicit activities such as placing or taking orders for drug deals, provoking students to fight each other, take and place bets on sporting events or other forms of gambling, or planning events such as bomb threats and other security breaches.
  • Distraction. Almost all of those in favor of banning cell phones from schools say that allowing their use in class will distract students from their studies. Features such as internet access and video gaming capabilities are the most frequently cited as the biggest distractions. While the internet can provide legitimate researching capabilities, playing video games provides no educational benefit at all.

Today there are schools making use of both policies. Pasco County’s Wiregrass Ranch High School utilizes mobile phones in many of its classes, including English, math, and social studies. Teachers allow students to use their phones to research literature and authors, calculate math problems, and take pictures for class projects, among other tactics. Students in this district say that they feel more respected and trust than students in districts who do not have such a privilege, and acknowledge that the devices can help them learn more about their world, both past and present. Regarding the area of behavior management, teachers in the school no longer must battle students on a daily basis to put their phones away or to pay attention during class. Instead, they are integrating cell phone usage into their lesson plans and students are participating during class more and benefiting. Students can take care of their personal business on their cell phones before and after school as well as during lunch and passing periods, so personal distractions really are a non-issue. Administrators acknowledge that some students will and do abuse the privilege. Rules, such as use restrictions and removal of other non-cell phone related privileges, are in place to discourage would-be goof-offers.

Most schools throughout the country instate some type of cell phone ban in their districts, mostly due to their connections to illegal activity and their disruptions during class. Some cite security issues, stating that ready student access to cell phones while on campus does not make them safer in the event of a violent event, even going so far as to state that they can complicate the jobs of emergency responders in such an instance. These schools also say that ready access to cell phones during the school day only inflames rumors and worsens bullying situations among students. As such, many of them enforce a “we see it, we take it” policy, and notify students as well as parents of the strict nature of such policies.

Some schools have begun to relax their mobile phone policies while others continue to uphold their bans, even tightening up their rules prohibiting the presence and usage of cell phones while on campus. Both sides have their own clear reasons for keeping their courses of action, and only time will tell as to which theory is more successful in educating students.

Top 5 Budget Android Phones for 2011

Google’s Android ended 2010 as the largest operating system worldwide. An Android smartphone can best showcase its capabilities on a high-end hardware or smartphone device. Despite a number of Android phones that are droolworthy, we have to face the face that not all of us have the budget for such premium devices. Android smartphones are known for having highly competitive prices but there are existing Android phones that have budget, mid-range and high-end phones to fit any user’s budget and style.

In no particular order, below is a list of the top 5 Android phones for 2011:

1. LG Optimus One

This Android smartphone has the most basic features an Android smartphone can get which makes it the perfect entry-level smartphone for budgeted buyers. It has sold over 1 million handsets worldwide which has made it into a blockbuster phone. It has an HVGA resolution display with Android customizations to a minimum. However, it has poor onscreen keypads and the processor may struggle with some built-in games.

2. Huawei Ideos

The Huawai Ideos uses the latest version of Android and is even capable of handling simultaneously the basic tasks needed for a smartphone. This inexpensive Google smartphone has replaceable back covers in multiple colors, Wi-Fi and built-in A-GPS. Unfortunately, the battery life won’t last beyond a day and the screen size and resolution are as low as budget Smartphones would go. Even so, Huawei claims that they worked closely with Goggle to develop the device which guarantees it a smart money move.

3. Sony Ericsson Xperia X8/ Mini

Perfect for first-time Android users who want a glimpse of the Android operating system, this stylish device is definitely an affordable smartphone. Its compact and stylish design goes hand in hand with its reasonable price tag despite the inconsistent interface zooming, non-support of Flash in web browser, and significantly smaller screen. Its camera doesn’t do much as well too.

4. HTC Wildfire

Want a touch screen phone? HTC Wildfire will be perfect for you with its 3.2 inch capacitive touch screen and 5 MP camera complete with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. An upgraded 384 MB RAM serves as a significant addition to its speed however, you are stuck at the Android 2.1 on this device. It is highly targeted for the youth as simple social networking apps are built in the device.

5. LG GW620

If you’re still hooked on phones that pop out a physical keyboard, then the LG GW620 is perfect as it gets. It slides out a 5-line QWERTY pad with well-spaced buttons and a built-in backlight. It may not suit the style of many Android users, but for the great battery life, well-rounded specs and affordable price tag, it may be good to consider this device.

Know your needs and requirements when it comes to your phone usage. Consider factors such as battery life, screen display and even touch screen capabilities when choosing your top budget Android Phones. Truth is, the later the version of the Android operating system, the better it is. Stick to your budget and take in your style to find the best Android phone for you.