Thousands of sparrows mysteriously fell from the sky in Pering Village, Blabatuh District, Gianyar Regency on the island of Bali, Indonesia a few days ago.
According to officials, this is not the first case in Bali or Indonesia. Similar bird mass die-offs also took place five years ago in Denpasar and Tabanan Regency, Bali as well as in Sukabumi, West Java, in July 2021.
Bird carcasses and droppings have been sampled for analysis to determine the cause of the incident.
The sudden death of these thousands of small birds is still unclear. Diseases? Poisoning? Herbicides or pesticides? Weather? What about EMF?
Given the sparrows live in large colonies, the transmission of a disease is fast and furious.
Rapid changes in weather can shock and stress birds, leading to mass die-offs.
Should we be worried about EMF exposure?
There is growing evidence that our addiction to cellphones could be impacting brain functionality and be the cause of stress, anxiety, insomnia and a lack of attention and focus.
Now a new report has found that we’re not the only living things to be affected by our increasing dependence on wireless technology. Mammals, birds, insects and even plants are likely being harmed by the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emanating from Wi-Fi, cellphone towers, broadcast transmitters and power lines.
The researchers said that “evidence is accumulating that mammals (e.g., bats and mice) have a magnetic sense” that is affected by radio-frequency-modulated electromagnetic fields (RF-EMR). Birds in particular may be highly susceptible. The researchers found that even weak magnetic fields in the radio frequency range can disrupt birds’ magnetoreception, their ability to use the Earth’s magnetic fields to orient themselves and find their way home.
Homing pigeons are well-known for their magnetoreception, but this sense has also been detected in other animals, like red foxes, and there is evidence that even large mammals like deer use the planet’s magnetic fields to sense direction. A number of invertebrates, including worms, mollusks and fruit flies also use this ability.
The report also concluded that EMR can also alter the metabolism of plants, causing “significant changes … demonstrated at cellular and molecular levels.” The authors noted that even a low level exposure to EMR “caused a rapid increase in stress-related transcript accumulation in tomato [plants].” Transcription is the first phase in the expression of a gene, in which a specific segment of DNA is copied into RNA.
The authors said that their findings indicate “an urgent need to strengthen the scientific basis of the knowledge on EMR and their potential impacts on wildlife,” specifically calling out the “need to base future research on sound, high-quality, replicable experiments so that credible, transparent and easily accessible evidence can inform society and policy-makers to make decisions and frame their policies.”
The UK charity Buglife (which proposed the analysis) warned that there wasn’t enough research to determine limits to EMR pollution. The group said that “serious impacts on the environment could not be ruled out” and urged that 5G transmitters should not be placed near street lights, which attract nocturnal insects like moths, nor in areas near wildlife.
Buglife CEO Matt Shardlow, who served on the experts steering group of the report, warned that “there is a credible risk that 5G could impact significantly on wildlife.” He added:
“We apply limits to all types of pollution to protect the habitability of our environment, but as yet, even in Europe, the safe limits of electromagnetic radiation have not been determined, let alone applied. This is a classic case of out of sight out of mind, just because humans cannot see electromagnetic radiation this does not mean that animals cannot ‘see’ the pollution or be significantly impacted at a neural or cellular level. A proper research program and clear policy measures are long overdue.”
Shardlow specifically warned of the current rollout of 5th-generation wireless systems or 5G networks, and called on telecommunications firms to research the impact of their wireless technology on wildlife and make their findings public.
The report authors also said that strong EMR fields increase the temperature in living tissue, but the intensity needed to induce such heating is “not experienced by wildlife (so far).”
It’s notable that they left the door open to this other potential emerging threat, as cellphone adoption rates are steadily rising globally. That means more cell towers—and more EMR being emitted into the environment.
“When you start to observe and realize that swallows and house martins no longer nest in towns and villages, when you realize that the sparrows have all disappeared, that in the evenings there are no bats flying in the dusk and that you no longer hear owls hooting, then you will begin to know what effect microwaves from cell towers and antennas are having on the environment,” said one commenter to a One World News article about the report.
Though evidence is mounting that humans may also be physiologically affected by EMF, the jury is still out on the impact of long-term low-frequency exposure. The WHO concluded that “current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields.”