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Is Wi-Fi Killing Trees?

by Steve Morgenstern on December 10, 2010

In addition to invading our privacy, turning our kids’ minds to mush and making us all into overweight sluggards, the Internet is now apparently picking a fight with Mother Nature herself. According to recent studies in the Netherlands, Wi-Fi is killing trees and interfering with plant growth. Or maybe not.

Researchers at Wageningen University exposed 20 ash trees to different types of radiation for three months. Those blasted with Wi-Fi signals developed a “metallic luster” on their leaves caused by tissue damage. They also found that corn plants near Wi-Fi access points grew more slowly than normal, and flowered later.

So far the results are inconclusive. The Dutch health agency issued a statement emphasizing the fact that “these are initial results that have not been confirmed in a repeat survey.” The only predictable result of the research so far is that the scientists involved won’t have any trouble funding their continued research, after the international hubbub their initial findings have caused.

Which brought to mind a previous wireless networking brouhaha, which in widespread reports in 2007 and 2008 implicated Wi-Fi in killing bees (it wasn't true).

I’m not a big Internet conspiracy theory fan, but could it be that in the current economy, scientists concerned about budget cuts are seeking job security by attacking Wi-Fi with rhyming dictionaries in hand? I won’t be at all surprised if we soon learn that wireless networking is bad for your knees, encourages fleas and stunts growth in the Lebanese.


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