COLUMN: New technology a matter of choice

Reporter's Viewpoint

I want a new cellphone tower and a smart meter.

I was visiting a relative in the Boat Harbour area a few weeks back and wanted to text message a friend, but cell service in that area sucks.

I can understand not having cell service in parts of B.C. far removed from any form of civilization, but I’m in Nanaimo and if it weren’t for a minority of people up in arms about a new cell tower proposed in Cedar, I’d have the service I’ve paid for.

I’ve never understood negative reaction to cell towers. People wander around their houses with cordless phones pressed to their heads and bathe themselves in WiFi so they can sit on the back porch and surf eBay.

Their kids even press their faces up to their microwave oven doors so they can watch popcorn pop, but the thought of a cell tower in their neighbourhood sends them into a tizzy.

I get that people don’t want an esthetically unappealing structure near their backyards, but instead of saying so, they use the cell-signal-radiation-causes-cancer scare tactic even if they’re never able to cite a single conclusive scientific study backing the claim.

I talked about this with my neighbour. Both of us come from technology backgrounds and lived in an era when governments blew up small South Pacific islands and the Nevada desert with nuclear weapons, so we think pretty much alike. Meaning radioactive fallout is something to be concerned about, cell signals aren’t and B.C. Hydro smart meters are good.

We also believe people worry themselves stupid over cell towers and smart meters, because of an inability or unwillingness to assess risk.

Here we all are on a nice autumn day spinning around at 1,000 miles an hour on the outer crust of an otherwise molten blob of magma, whipping through the universe with nothing more than gravity, a thin envelope of gas and the Earth’s electromagnetic field to shield us from the deadly, frozen, irradiated, vacuum of space.

Upset the precarious balance of cosmic coincidences maintaining our delicate orbit around our sun as we thread our way through the paths of really big asteroids of mass-extinction that slam into our planet every 65 million years or so, and we’d all get snuffed in a blaze of glory faster than you can say, “ionizing radiation.”

Yet the majority of the population remains surprisingly unconcerned about this state of affairs.

Sorry, I can’t wait for B.C. Hydro to plug in my smart meter, so I can start tracking in real time where I’m wasting power. Not because saving power will cause B.C. Hydro to tear down a dam that wiped out an entire ecosystem in the first place, (yes, I am a nuclear power advocate who happens to like solar and wind energy generation technologies) but because it might help prevent them from damming yet another river and, at the very least, it will save me money.

I wonder how much lower electricity demand would be if stores and consumers didn’t have to refrigerate milk? Remember gamma-irradiated milk back in the early ’80s? I thought it was a great product – perfect for camping – but a minority of people screamed bloody murder about it until it got pulled off the shelves along with the freedom for the majority of consumers to choose for themselves whether they wanted to buy it or not.

A similar thing is happening with smart meters today. A highly vocal minority is using political manipulation and disinformation (the government will spy on us through our smart meters. Seriously?) to prevent a majority of customers from accessing a product that could help cut energy consumption drastically.

No group is right simply because it shouts louder than everyone else. How about we do this democratically. I order a smart meter if I want and whoever doesn’t can stick with their old meter.

photos@nanaimobulletin.com

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