Sierra Club ‘Grapples’ with an Untenable Pro-Smart Grid Policy; Misrepresents Expert’s Opinion

What would John Muir- the founder of the Sierra Club- have thought of smart meters?
By Joshua Hart MSc

If you picked up the latest Sierra Magazine, you might have noticed a column under the section, “Grapple” with an image of a foot kicking out a smart meter from a house. Has the Sierra Club finally looked at the evidence and come to its senses? Have they accepted that the smart grid is really a false solution to our dire environmental problems, and a major health crisis to boot?  Sadly, instead of listening to expert opinion and common sense, the Sierra Club is now twisting the words of experts who are increasingly raising the alarm about smart meters, and tarnishing the reputation of physicians groups- simply to maintain their unsubstantiated claim that by adding millions of new energy sucking smart meters to an already inefficient grid- we will somehow ‘save energy.’  It appears that the Sierra Club and the editor of the Sierra Magazine Paul Rauber have drunk the Kool Aid and don’t want to come down from their corporate cash soaked smart grid dreams. Yet come down they must, as the dawn of smart meter resistance is shining through the curtains and waking them up to a hangover brought on by their past follies.

Editor Paul Rauber attempts to distance the Sierra Club from the growing smart grid debacle in the latest issue of Sierra.  Neglecting to mention that the Sierra Club, along with the NRDC and EDF have long been champions of the smart grid, encouraging policymakers down this path without a shred of independent evidence of energy savings, they depict themselves suddenly as champions of the consumer, pointing the finger at the utilities:

“the utilities have only themselves to blame for public recalcitrance.”

We tried to warn the Sierra Club that all was not kosher with the smart grid.  We sent them a ton of information about the problems with smart meters a year ago, but instead of engaging, they just asked us not to e-mail them anymore.

According to the article in Sierra:

“David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health, says that the health risk from a smart meter probably depends on how close it is to your bed or your easy chair. But he also suggests weighing that risk against those from dirty energy, an archaic grid, and climate change: infectious disease, lung damage, famine, heatstroke, fire, and flood. ‘In terms of a body count,’ Carpenter says, ‘that’s orders of magnitude more significant.’”

We contacted David Carpenter MD, to ask if this was an accurate representation of his expert opinion.  This is what he told us:

“As is often the case my comment reported here is taken out of context.  And I certainly did not imply in any way that imposition of smart grids reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.  However I stand by the conclusion that the death rate from increased heat waves, ocean level rises, violent weather etc. are going to kill more people than will die from greater exposure to RF fields, where the deaths will come primarily from leukemia and other forms of cancer.  This is a perfect example of how comments that are rational are printed implying a totally different meaning.”

The article also ridicules the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, a respected group of physicians concerned with environmental impacts on human health.  The only thing Sierra managed to criticize them for is their opposition to water fluoridation- the subject of serious medical debate regarding whole body health impacts. By trying to prevent tooth decay, we may be causing far worse problems.  A parable for our failing mechanistic approach to health care.

The author makes it sound as if Marin County is alone in its opposition to smart meters, neglecting to mention the inconvenient truth that now 56 cities and counties in California alone have demanded a halt to the smart meter rollout in its current form.

They say:

“While most of us get far more exposure from our cellphones and wi-fi networks than we would from smart meters, they do emit radio frequency radiation in short, powerful bursts.”

At least Sierra is admitting that the meters do emit powerful bursts, but ignores studies like that conducted by UC researcher Dan Hirsch which indicates that smart meters subject us to 100-150x the cumulative whole body radiation of a cell phone.  Anyway, how is exposing us to even marginally greater carcinogenic radiation good public policy, especially when safe alternatives exist?

Now don’t get us wrong- we think the Sierra Club over the years has been critical in defending much of the nation’s wilderness areas from inappropriate development, and protecting at-risk species. Their local chapters are often free of the creeping corporate influence that has been rotting away the morals of the central office.  For example, the Club’s own San Francisco chapter voted unanimously in March 2011 to demand a moratorium on smart meters due to pressing health and environment threats. Yet you won’t read about that in the national magazine.  Like much of the country’s media, growing wireless health damage is simply blacked out as if it doesn’t exist.  The invisible hand of the telecommunications industry at work?

The problem with the Sierra Club is that they remain committed to a dead end mode of environmental philosophy- that ‘green’ consumerism and technology can save the world. They promote wildlife iPhone apps, ignoring the fact that the iPhone may cause brain tumors in the user and damage to the very wildlife that people are admiring, from the network of cell towers it depends upon.

Their faith in humanity to look squarely at our environmental problems and change course accordingly is dim to non-existent.  By promoting false solutions like carbon offsets, smart grid development, and electric vehicles, the Sierra Club is sanctioning and perpetuating the root cause of our environmental ills: capitalism and hyper-consumerism.  Like an enabler to someone addicted to heroin, they soothe our worries with glossy magazine pics of natural environments, urging us to consume ‘green’ products we don’t really need, promoting a path that will just delay the inevitable.  Marlboro lights are not a solution to cigarette addiction.

David Carpenter is right.  We need to make major changes to human civilization- if we want it to avert major public health consequences.   We need to quit fossil fuels, and reign in wireless technology and obscene levels of consumption.  But that doesn’t make anyone uber-wealthy.  And therein lies the problem.

In the last issue, Sierra featured an article about how to make a microwave oven into a mailbox.  Perhaps they have some ideas about how to encourage the adaptive reuse of millions of smart meters that Americans are rejecting.  How about paperweights to sit on our desk and remind us how false, techno solutions won’t save anything other than the corporate bottom line?

Maybe the Sierra Club is secretly pleased about the health damage being done by its precious smart meters- after all if they really believe that humans will never change our ways, perhaps the only way to ‘save the planet’ so that rich Sierra donors can jet off to Bali is through microwave population control.

Certainly not our vision of “exploring, enjoying, and protecting the planet”

Upset with the Sierra Club’s backing of the smart grid? Are you or someone you know a Sierra Club member?  Consider terminating your membership by calling (415) 977- 5653 (telling them why!), and re-directing your donation to organizations such as ours who are fighting to protect humans and wildlife from the smart grid.  Please donate today– an insignificant amount for the Sierra Club can enable a significant amount of anti-smart meter advocacy! 

This entry was posted in California, Cancer, Carbon Offsets, Citizen rebellion, Democracy, Environmental Concerns, health effects, Marin County, radio-frequency radiation, San Francisco, Smart Grid. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Sierra Club ‘Grapples’ with an Untenable Pro-Smart Grid Policy; Misrepresents Expert’s Opinion

  1. Redi Kilowatt says:

    I think that the Sierra Club was originally OK, but it has been bought by corporate influences, and the global UN agenda 21.
    Even the local chapter in Marin supports some public projects that are harmful to the environment and the taxpayers, like their support of the Sonoma commuter train called SMART. The Sierra Club likes anything called smart. Smart is the new key word in advertising, and most of the things being pedaled as being smart like smart growth, smart phones, smart meters and SMART trains are not so smart at all to the people, just smart ways to make a buck. This new environmentalism movement has lost the original purpose and spirit, now it is more about promoting the UN Agenda 21, controlling the population and making big dollars doing so.

  2. Paul Rauber says:

    Please take down that illustration, unless you have bought rights from the artist.

    • Sure Paul- I’ve replaced it with something more appropriate. Will you be printing a clarification of Dr. Carpenter’s comments in your next issue of Sierra?

    • Josh says:

      That’s all you have to say, eh?

      Thousands of people get sick from a highly profitable scheme that produces no tangible environmental benefits but does produce tangible harm to the environment and public health, and the rights to an illustration are the big issue?

      Perhaps you missed your calling-Monsanto could always use some more intellectual property lawyers.

  3. Vicki says:

    Thanks for grappling with Sierra Mag’s misguided thinking, Josh.
    Also, it is gratifying and edifying to know what David Carpenter REALLY said . . .

  4. Josh says:

    Great piece, Joshua. It’s important for someone to hold the corporate environmental organizations’ feet to the fire on this issue, and you write eloquently about it. The second-to-last sentence seems a bit too vitriolic, though. However misguided the Sierra Club’s management may be, it seems unlikely that they have actually secretly endorsed microwave radiation as a means of population control—I can see Dick Cheney doing that, but not the Sierrra Club. Then again, perhaps I’m just naive; overpopulation is an enormous environmental problem for which no one seems to have any solution, and the continuous exposure to the vast majority of the world’s population to an agent that both reduces the chance of reproducing successfully and increases the chance of dying prematurely presents an elegant solution. Completely a-moral, but also elegant.

  5. Susan B says:

    We have only to examine a series of articles produced in 2011 by Sierra Club to see their deplorable support for the so-called “smart grid”. Their statements clearly come straight out of the mouths of utility industry spokespersons and marketing experts. Such drivel as “The success of the Smart Grid depends on both awareness of consumer issues and an appreciation of the bigger picture in terms of overall benefits.” (“The Benefits and Challenges of “Smart Meters” for the Smart Grid”, article 2 of 3 on the topic by Debra Atlas, Sierra Club, Nov., 2011) Article 1 of 3 is “Smart Grid, Smart Idea” Also, Article 3 of 3 by Sierra Club writer Debra Atlas:”The Great Smart Grid Debate “One thing is clear: Smart Grid technology is here to stay, to grow, and to evolve. If we are serious about moving ahead with renewables such as solar and electric vehicles, then we need to find a way to live and work with this new technology.”
    I think that series makes it perfectly clear that as recently as 6 months ago, Sierra Club took the low road and supported harm to all humans and wildlife. I encourage every member of the Sierra Club to stop all support. Instead, consider sending your monthly donations to Stop Smart Meters and other orgs working in the interest of public health and safety, including that of wildlife.

  6. Ralph Dom says:

    Thank you for your article. I have been intending to put some of these ideas to paper,
    but I do not have the skill and eloquence you posses. The believe that an economy can grow indefinitely is the fatal achillesheel of the Capitalist system. The massive roll out of all kinds wireless devices is another symptom of making a sputtering economy grow for a little bit longer at great environmental cost by producing essentially useless products.

    The whole balance of nature is becoming so precarious that it hard to predict where the short term danger will come from next. My prediction is, that population control will be accomplished by an independent agent: Nature. Will it be carbon levels? Rising oceans . Climate change etc? I think it will be the demise of the honey bee. Science is grappling with the cause for this, is it pesticide, EMF radiation or a combination of things? I do not think we can afford to wait for the answer. It is a scientific fact that when a specie becomes extinct it will never come back.
    Widespread food shortages will be the result.
    Do I think that life will disappear from this planet? Probably not. Earth has experienced some very harsh challenges before.
    And if mankind disappears, perhaps a new specie will evolve. Hopefully something with a little less brain and a lot more sense.

    (An excellent read on the subject of why technology won’t save us, is a book called Tech no fix by Michael and Joyce Huesemann.

    Ralph D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.