by Naturalist Activist
Remember all the hype about “the race to 5G” and how important it was supposed to be for economic dominance in the 21st century? Whoever “won” was going to have a huge advantage over other countries that didn’t rush to put in 5G everywhere. Or so the narrative went.
Now Greece appears to have “won” the race; the country’s national wireless carrier, Cosmote, having covered virtually the entire country and much of the Aegean with 5G. So what’s the prize?
Greece isn’t a big manufacturing base and we don’t have a lot of factories (most of them have moved to Bulgaria and Albania since the economic crisis) so the robotization of factories isn’t what 5G is for. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with 5G, actually, since most of the population can’t afford a 5G phone in the first place, and nobody seems to want one (well, maybe a few tech geeks).
Greece’s main industries are farming, beekeeping and tourism—so what will 5G do to help them? A former agriculture minister used to wax poetic about how Greek farmers would be able to check soil acidity and water crops using their smartphones from the village cafe (he made it sound as if they’d never have to get their hands dirty ever again) but he never mentioned the downsides.
What really happens when you put 5G panels on all the cell towers in the countryside? We have some experience of this, since we got 5G here on Samos in July, and we grow all our own fruit and vegetables. Here’s what happened.
First, we had trouble with crops (melons, tomatoes, courgettes) planted in late June-early July—despite loads of blossoms, very few were pollinated. Insects, including pollinators, began declining rapidly, and are still declining. I won’t go into that now—I have a lot to say on that subject which I am reserving for a separate piece.
Second, our soil is becoming acidic. This is a process that began with 4G but has intensified. Calcium channels in plants go into overdrive and they deplete the soil of calcium, which has to be added in the from of calcium pellets or tomatoes and peppers produce damaged fruit. Acidic soil in turn kills useful bacteria as well as insects like earthworms, which are good for soil.
Poor, acidic soil and a lack of pollinators are not going to help Greek farmers. Winter crops like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beets etc. don’t need to be pollinated unless you are saving seeds because you are eating the roots, flowers or leaves. However, farmers will need seeds to plant next year. Spring and summer crops all need pollination to produce fruit, so with fewer pollinators there will be poorer yields, and some crops may fail entirely.* Farmers will go broke and prices of fruits and vegetables, already high, will rise astronomically.
5G won’t help the beekeepers, either. They have already been having trouble with their beehives for the past few years. 5G is likely to cause massive colony collapse—but again, we won’t know till spring because the bees are hibernating in their hives now. Most Greek beekeepers take their hives up into the mountains—above the cell towers—in summer, so their bees weren’t exposed to 5G until they brought them back down in late autumn. If the bees die, it will be a massive blow both to Greek agriculture and to the Greek economy.
What about tourism? Will 5G help tourism? Will all those tourists come flocking into Greece because they can use their 5G phones here? It depends why these tourists have come to Greece. If they want a 5G sea and sun holiday, this is the place to be: Cosmote has made it a special point to ensure that 5G is available on all popular Greek beaches. Just look for that cell tower on a nearby hill; the Greek islands are forested with them. On the other hand, everyone in the island’s premier tourist resort, which now boasts a new 5G cell tower, has been complaining of splitting headaches and other problems since the 5G network went live in July.
What about nature tourists? What about the ones that come for walking holidays or to spot birds or butterflies or look for rare orchids? I fear they may be disappointed. Many birds live on insects, and if the insects die out, so will the birds—this includes the raptors which live on smaller birds that live on insects. Butterflies are insects. They are also great pollinators of wildflowers, of which Greece has the greatest variety of any European country besides Spain. So expect plant varieties—including rare orchids—to diminish along with the pollinators.
I’m sure there are other great “advantages” of 5G I’ve forgotten to list here. But you get my point. In “winning” the race to 5G, Greece just won the booby prize. Poor Greece.
*They’ll blame climate change, of course—mark my words.