Friday, June 15, 2012

THIMK

THIMK: There was an expression when we were growing up: "Don't confuse me with the facts." In the age of information, as the gap between belief and veracity widens, it's understandable that the expression has evolved. Nowadays we say, "You're entitled to your own opinion but not entitled to your own facts."

The perfect example of course are the misguided and often downright delusional efforts to spread pseudo-scientific fear and trepidation about so called "smart meters," especially here on Kaua`i where the campaign has reached a disinformational zenith approaching the "Big Lie" on steroids.

The campaign has taken on a life of it's own and there are many who now believe that there is an international conspiracy to use killer radio waves to annihilate us all. And it is being led by those diabolical mad geniuses at Kaua`i Island Utilities Cooperative (KIUC).

"Holy Mindf*ck Batman- It's Commissioner Gordon on the phone... Photovoltaic Man has escaped from jail... again!"

So how did this happen. How did an apparently innocuous device using technology that came in with AM radio grow fearsome tentacles to envelop us all with their evil invisible rays?

News Flash- it didn't... it's a freakin' comic book.

We could blame our educational system. Science curricula in primary school has all but disappeared and students who think science is "toooo haaaard" seemingly having carried the day. In addition while Biology, Chemistry and Physics at least appear on the list of secondary school classes, the Principles of Electricity go generally untaught at the high school level. We admit having had to brush up on on the fundamentals of electro-magnetism, radio frequency and radio waves ourselves when this whole nonsense started- it's probably the least commonly known science out there, probably because it's invisible.

If you ask the average Keone on the street how the sound got into his radio he'd probably look at you like you're crazy... before admitting he'd always assumed something along the lines of "it's magic."

Combine that with the much bemoaned lack of skills involving critical thinking- the act of questioning assumptions- among students today, and it's no wonder that anything that is repeated often enough- especially "on-line"- must be true.

Which is why, although you might hold the people who have been led astray over "smart meters" responsible for their own delusions, we really have to point to KIUC as the source of their own problems.

The powers that be have created KIUC to be a bastion of misinformation and outright lies since it's inception. The very history of the initial pricing scandal convinced people that there were kickbacks and other shenanigans, and the lack of documentation have fanned the flames of mistrust every since. The promise by the original board to operate under the state's open meetings (sunshine) and records (UIPA) laws was thrown under the bus when the original bylaws were drawn up.

The commitment had been elicited by the county council at the time in order to get them to drop efforts to set up a municipal power authority, something which had been approved by voters and is now still a part of the county charter. The promise to maintain a truly democratic co-operative were similarly discarded and substituted for with vague standards of membership participation, all subject to secretive manipulation by the board of directors.

The bylaws- the document that is supposed to give the "members" of a co-op the power over major decision making- allowed the board to institute their own policies that stood the often vague bylaws on its head. One example is the "gag rule" that stopped board members from disagreeing publicly with the policies passed by the majority of the board.

Even now when we brought this up with the new PR guy Jim Kelly we were told that the rule had been eliminated only to find out it had not been ditched but changed, so that now a board member had to clear any public statements he or she planned to make with either the chair or the general manager- giving staff decision-making power over board members in a bass ackward example of who has the power and how KIUC operates.

Through the years the board and the "company" in general has operated with a for-profit business model- "we sell you electricity"- and evolved into bastions of secrecy and manipulation.

The debacle of the membership vote on the federal oversight of local hydro-power epitomized KIUC's methodology of "dealing" with members. Instead of having a fair vote with a straightforward question and legitimate pros and cons sent out to voters, they offer a set of admittedly manipulative and disingenuous "pros" and with exactly zero legitimate "cons. " Also, a massive, expensive PR campaign with full page ads in the local newspaper was purchased turning the vote into the type of thing you'd see in a third world country. People were suggesting we bring in Jimmy Carter to investigate.

These example show why it's been so easy to justifiably demonize KIUC and allow people to use their lack of science training and lack of critical thinking skills to set up false solecisms like:

A) KIUC lies
B) KIUC says "smart meters are safe"
Therefore
C) KIUC is lying about smart meters and smart meters are not safe.

But any student of logic will tell you that part of critical thinking lies in making sure that the assumptions are not misapplied. This example would be like saying in B) that "KIUC says 2 + 2 = 4." Just because KIUC says something is true, doesn't automatically make it lie.

If only life were that easy.

What we've seen is that every time someone tries to bust the myths over health, privacy. cost-benefit and a dozen other supposed "issues" with smart meter opponents they are tagged as being "part of the conspiracy."

One recent attempt to set the record straight comes from the Blue Planet Foundation (BPF) a local non-profit "committed to ending the use of fossil fuels on Earth, starting in Hawai`i."

It's Executive Director is Jeff Mikulina who "served for ten years as the director of the state's largest environmental advocacy organization, the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter."

In a piece called "Understanding Smart Meters," BPF shreds much of the misinformation spread by smart meter opponents.

For example, it discredits one of the well-publicized claims that "smart meters cause cancer because RF is classified as a “Class 2-B Carcinogen” by the World Health Organization."

It's a half truth- a misrepresentation that leaves out vital information at best. In actuality:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has worked to identify environmental factors that can increase the risk of human cancer. With that goal, WHO has researched hundreds of possible carcinogenic agents, and categorized them into groups:

Group 1 Carcinogenic to humans 107 agents

Group 2A Probably carcinogenic to humans 63 agents

Group 2B Possibly carcinogenic to humans 271 agents

Group 4 Probably not carcinogenic to humans 1 agents

Group 3 refers to agents that are “not classifiable.”]

To date, only one agent is classified as “probably not carcinogenic.” RF is classified in the next lowest group (2B), “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Many other common agents are also listed in group 2B, including examples like caffeine, carpentry, and coconut oil DEA (an ingredient frequently found in lotions and shampoos). WHO defines “possibly” carcinogenic to mean that there is: (i) “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans” and “less than sufficient” evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals”; or (ii) “inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans” but “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.”

According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, “there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk.”


Another recently stressed issue- especially among those who, while not opponents, have questioned the need and wisdom of purchasing smart meters- is whether a cost-benefit analysis has been done and if so, does it show smart meters to be a good investment. The answer is a resounding "yes" according to BPF.

In answer to the question "Will smart meters be cost-effective?" the essay states:

The numbers show that smart meters are a good investment. For approximately 33,000 households on Kaua`i, KIUC plans to invest about 11 million dollars in the smart meter project (with 5.5 million dollars of that coming from federal funding). So, KIUC can expect that updating the meter on each household will cost approximately $333. Each meter is expected to last 20 years or more, so the cost per year is about $16 per smart meter. That small investment is easy to recover from the benefits of smart meters.

For example, at current electricity prices, $16 translates into 46 kWh of energy per year, or about 4 kWh per month. In 2010, the average Kaua`i household used over 400 kWh per month. In other words, if in-home displays or other advantages of smart meters allow Kaua`i households to become just 1% more efficient, then from the consumer’s perspective, the smart meters will more than pay for themselves. And this calculation assumes that energy prices don’t rise at all for the next 20 years. More likely, as the price of energy rises, the smart meter investment will get better and better.

We can also see this smart investment by looking at the ability of smart meters to help us integrate more renewable energy resources onto a smarter grid. In 2010, KIUC imported over 675,000 barrels of diesel, at a cost of approximately $70 million. Meanwhile, only 1.4% of KIUC’s fuel mix was photovoltaic power produced from the sun. Even if smart meters only enable us to increase that photovoltaic contribution by a modest 2%, Kauai would save on nearly 15,000 barrels of diesel. At today’s oil prices, that would stop more than $2 million dollars per year from leaving the island each year. In five years, the smart meter investment would pay for itself. And again, as the price of oil rises in the future, this investment only gets better.

Other analyses have reached the same conclusion looking at the various ways that smart meters will save money. For example, a 2011 report on the Costs and Benefits of Smart Meters for Residential Consumers tallied up the smart meter savings and concluded that “even with conservative assumptions regarding consumer engagement in technologies, programs, and rate plans, utilities and their customers can expect positive net benefits from [smart meter] investments over the next 20 years.”

The piece also explains how "grid modernization starts with smart meters" and addresses all the other supposed horrors of smart meters.

Here are some of the questions and somewhat truncated answers (read the entire essay for full answers and links to definitions of scientific terms as well as background studies and articles on the subject)

Do smart meters emit hazardous levels of “RF,” “EMF,” and “radiation”?

“RF” (radio frequencies), “EMF” (electromagnetic fields) and “radiation” (energy traveling in waves) are scientific terms referring to electromagnetic energy. “Radiation” does not mean the same thing as “radioactive.”

Electromagnetic radiation surrounds us all the time; the most familiar example is ordinary visible light. Many common devices emit or receive electromagnetic energy. These include things like light bulbs, hot plates, remote controls, computer screens, cordless telephones, cellular telephones, metal detectors, wireless computer networks, and baby monitors. Wireless communication devices, from AM radios, to cell phones, to satellites, all use low-energy electromagnetic radio waves to transfer information. Smart meters also use the same “non-ionizing” low-energy radio waves to transmit information about the electricity grid.


Are smart meters hazardous to health?

According to the World Health Organization, a “number of studies have investigated the effects of radiofrequency fields on brain electrical activity, cognitive function, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure in volunteers. To date, research does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields at levels below those that cause tissue heating. Further, research has not been able to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.”

Also answered are the questions

Do smart meters pose a security threat?

Do smart meters cause fires?

Is it true that smart Meters don’t emit radio waves, they emit dangerous microwaves?

Will smart meters give accurate readings?

Are smart meters a violation of privacy?

It hard to blame misguided people who have been whipped into a frenzy by a handful of people who don't have a good understanding of the underlying science and/or. in many cases. aren't commonly engaged in the critical thinking scientific examination requires.

Many tell people to " just Google it" and yes, if you Google it you will find dozens of anti-smart meter posts from blogs and other sources. And yes, you have to go pretty far down the list for find anything supporting their use. But all that shows is the echo chamber of the claims and the fact that if you keep repeating them and forwarding them and reporting them people are going to start believing them no matter what the truth is.

Many have warned that the ubiquitous nature of the internet and the fact that just anyone can post whatever they want to (whether it is true or not) will lead- or some say has already led- to chaos. They usually end up using this to advocate for what amounts to some form censorship so that "trustworthy" sources are what people will read.

But other like us have advocated for a more informed readership- one that is educated in the sciences and has the ability to use critical thinking to examine the underlying principles involved.

To do this each and every reader must ask themselves some questions.

Is there just a single person or a couple of people making claims, maybe even with one claiming a title before their name such as "Doctor?"... doctor of what? and what is their reputation in the field?

Or is the information peer-reviewed and published in a well established and generally trusted science based publication. Is the article based on an actual scientific study?

Is it not just replicable but has it been replicated? Or is it a series of anecdotes and unverifiable claims based on testimonials?

Are those who are trying to convince you trying to tar information by saying that some disreputable person or organization also said it? Is it using "guilt by association" or an ad hominem attack- one that attacks the person, not the idea or claims?

And finally when people start to claim vast worldwide conspiracies involving all the universities, the government and even organization like Blue Planet Foundation (not to mention Parx News Net) ask yourself if this makes sense.

We could "blame" KIUC for being so consistently disreputable that people are willing to believe that anything they say must be a lie. But even so, each of us is responsible for our own actions and just because your cousin got an email saying the sky is falling doesn't mean it's time to sign up for the Chicken Little Newsletter.

6 comments:

Blahblahblah said...

Looney Left Paranoid nonsense is no prettier than the John Birch loons they overlap on this sort of issue.

The underlying concern is that rates will rise. And they will for hydrocarbon sourced electricity at night.

But if you really want a scandal, press KIUC as to why they reject cheap hydro power from the Kekaha group while happily jumping in bed with A&B on expensive photovoltaic systems.......

Ray Songtree said...

Andy,
Full body exposure of low emf or rf for over ten years CANNOT be replicated in a lab, and therefore there are is no "scientific evidence" or "peer reviewed studies". Maybe a group of prisoners in for life will submit to a long term "expperiment" some day, but we don't need that. We are seeing the symptoms now appearing in the general public.

The effects, dangers, non-existent benefits are not speculations but are evidenced by the experience in other states and countries. The consumer reports for Smart Meters stink. Ignoring this and reading the speculations of Blue Planet shredding is still ignoring. Check out the consumer reports. What are people experiencing. Problems, lower or higher bills, fires, what?

As far as KIUC, there is no evidence that the Coop Principles were ever sincerely adopted. We see no progression over the years toward more transparency and member involvement, quite the opposite.

The precautionary principle precludes know it all assumptions. Those of us who are reading the actual consumer reports see red flags that say, slow down.

Lead is a class 2b carcinogen. We don't have lead paint, gas, or solder anymore. We will have wireless free schools soon. The evidence is that the RF from many devices is much different than sunlight.

The pulsed microwave emissions, up to 190,000 per day from the Landys Smart Meter, is only found in military weapons.

Conclusions are not the point. Precautionary principle is the point.

Ray Songtree

Ray Songtree said...

I've just uploaded the recent federal court action on Kauai Smart Meters.

KIUC says there is no privacy threat.

The court backed Asquith's argument that his fourth and fifth amendment rights are threatened.

See his arguement.

KIUC is lying because KIUC has known for 8 months that Smart Meters are technically a wiretapping device. I sent 11,000 mailers out on Kauai, and my permission denied form has been completely backed up now by Federal Court.

So is Federal Court also a wacko? Or do we Smart Meter opponents maybe have some valuable research worth looking at?

The accusation of KIUC lies aren't based on past history of lying. Their accusations are based on present ongoing bullshit.

The reader might see EMFsafety.org, dirtyelectricity.org, StopKIUC.com
or KauaiTruth.Com to start learning about a very real controversy.

cheers,
Ray

Ray Songtree said...

sorry, the upload on court docs can be seen at www.KauaiTruth.Com

anonymous said...

Andy, Would love to hear your take on the "precautionary principle"......what does it mean to you?? And why would you chose not to use it in the case of microwave transmissions from smart meters??
Mahalo!

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