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What Will 5G Mean for the Environment?

As the world looks forward to the 2020 launch of 5G technology, which promises faster speeds and greater device capacity, its environmental impacts are being overlooked. Companies in the U.S. and China are competing to roll out this new network, but the ecological costs are significant. Increased energy use, resource depletion from manufacturing, and harmful effects on wildlife, especially birds, pose serious risks. Despite efforts to reduce these impacts, the environmental consequences of 5G need careful consideration before it is widely implemented.

Consumption Increases and 5G Technologies

Currently, six billion mobile devices contribute to the carbon footprint. The production and maintenance of 5G technology significantly increase energy consumption and electronic waste, contributing to climate change. The ICT industry already accounts for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from electricity and heat production. As 5G supports fast-speed devices that rely on nonrenewable metals, energy use and substantial waste rises.

The Impact of 5G on Ecosystems

The implementation of 5G technology raises concerns about its potential harm to delicate ecosystems, particularly through millimeter waves, which have never been deployed at such a scale before. Studies suggest that these waves could negatively impact birds, with instances of disfigured eggs observed after short exposure to cell phone radiation. The increased density of small cells required for 5G connectivity threatens bird populations and their habitats. Similarly, research indicates adverse effects on bees, including colony collapse disorder and impaired navigational skills, which could significantly affect pollination and agricultural systems. These findings highlight the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the potential for widespread disruption if not carefully managed. As 5G necessitates more small cell installations, the exposure of birds, bees, and other species to harmful frequencies may intensify, underscoring the need for thorough environmental assessment and mitigation strategies.

Source: https://jsis.washington.edu/news/what-will-5g-mean-for-the-environment/

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