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Planned Global WiFi from Space Will Destroy Ozone Layer, Worsen Climate Change, and Threaten Life on

Thirteen companies are competing to cover the entire Earth with high-speed wireless Internet from low-orbit satellites within one to two years. This would be an ecological and public health nightmare. The biggest players are SpaceX (12,000 satellites), OneWeb (4,560 satellites) and Boeing (2,956 satellites).

The recent finding, in 2018, that stratospheric ozone is still declining despite the Montreal Protocol took everyone by surprise. The increasing pace of ever-more-powerful rocket launches is a likely factor. Imminent plans for beaming high-speed Internet from space would require the launching of large rockets almost daily. This is expected to alter, if not destroy, the ozone layer and contribute significantly to climate change. Although many new rockets burn liquid fuel containing no ozone-destroying chlorine, the assumption that this is environmentally friendly is proving wrong.

Martin Ross and colleagues at the Aerospace Corporation have been sounding the alarm. Their 2009 paper, "Limits on the Space Launch Market Related to Stratospheric Ozone Depletion," pointed out that although liquid fuels do not contain chlorine, they produce significant amounts of nitrogen and hydrogen oxides, as well as water vapor and soot, when burned. All of those destroy ozone.

Martin Ross of the Aerospace Corporation was also the lead author of a paper published in 2010 titled "Potential climate impact of black carbon emitted by rockets." The authors developed a computer model to predict what would happen in different parts of the planet if the number of launches burning kerosene (then 25 annually) increased by a factor of ten. His model predicts as much as a 4% loss of ozone over the tropics and subtropics, as much as a 3-degree Celsius summertime increase in temperature over the South Pole, more than a one-degree overall increase in Antarctic temperature, and a decrease in Antarctic sea ice by 5% or more.

In a 2011 Aerospace article titled "Rocket Soot Emissions and Climate Change", Ross states "The Aerospace study shows that the radiative forcing of soot from a given hydrocarbon rocket scenario is as much as 100,000 times that of the carbon dioxide from the rockets." Obviously, the soot or black carbon emissions would be an important factor in accelerating climate change if the planned launches move forward.

Solid state rocket exhaust is no better. It contains ozone-destroying chlorine, water vapor (a greenhouse gas), and aluminum oxide particles, which seed stratospheric clouds. Complete ozone destruction is observed in the exhaust plumes of solid state rockets.

The New York Times (May 14, 1991, p. 4) quoted Aleksandr Dunayev of the Russian Space Agency saying "About 300 launches of the [space] shuttle each year would be a catastrophe and the ozone layer would be completely destroyed."

At that time, the world averaged only 12 rocket launches per year. Maintaining a fleet of (ultimately) 4,000 satellites, each with an expected lifespan of five years, will likely involve enough yearly rocket launches to be an environmental catastrophe.

Project Loon utilizes a scarce resource - helium - with reckless abandon. Helium is key to the function and manufacture of many technologies. Helium also has important scientific and hospital uses. It is a scarce fossil resource ( and should be conserved, not squandered. The balloons used by Project Loon are inflated with helium which is released into the atmosphere when the balloons are grounded. Furthermore, the balloons are made of polyethylene plastic which is not biodegradable, yet the balloons are only expected to have a life-span of 10 months. Our best estimate is that it would take 100,000 balloons to provide wireless to landmasses worldwide. This a lot of polyethylene to discard and a lot of helium to waste.

Contrary to popular perception, wireless technology is not a sustainable or environmentally friendly technology because wireless connectivity uses far more energy than wired connectivity. According to Energy Consumption in Wired and Wireless Access Networks, "Wireless technologies will continue to consume at least 10 times more power than wired technologies when providing comparable access rates and traffic volumes. PON [passive optical networks] will continue to be the most energy-efficient access technology." (, even as technology becomes more energy efficient. A higher amount of energy is consumed in transmitting large amounts of information through the air (a medium that has high resistance and high level of signal absorption) compared to transmission via various corded communication connections (e.g., copper or fiber optic based). In fact, in a paper looking at the energy consumption of cloud computing, the authors state, "Our energy calculations show that by 2015, wireless cloud will consume up to 43 TWh, compared to only 9.2 TWh in 2012, an increase of 460%. This is an increase in carbon footprint from 6 megatonnes of CO2 in 2012 to up to 30 megatonnes of CO2 in 2015, the equivalent of adding 4.9 million cars to the roads. Up to 90% of this consumption is attributable to wireless access network technologies, data centres account for only 9%." ( While the article discusses cloud computing as though it is an energy saver, it is clear from the discussion that those energy savings are only realized if the cloud replaces individual computing power. Otherwise, cloud computing only causes additional energy consumption and should not be promoted as an environmentally-friendly technology. The energy wastefulness of wireless technology should cause national and international governments everywhere serious pause in their promotion of wireless technology.

A second area of concern is wireless itself. Although widely perceived as an unqualified good, wireless operates using extremely rapid pulses of microwave radiation - the same radiation used in microwave ovens. And a parade of studies continue to be published and ignored implicating wireless technology in the die-off of forests, the demise of frogs, bats, and honey bees, the threatened extinction of the house sparrow, and damage to the DNA of the human species. It is vital to the continuation of life that large parts of the earth be spared from the incessant radiation that accompanies wireless technologies.

"The human body", says Dr Gerard J. Hyland, of the University of Warwick, UK, "is an electrochemical instrument of exquisite sensitivity", noting that, like a radio, it can be interfered with by incoming radiation. If a signal can operate a mechanical device, it can disturb every cell in the human body.

On February 7, 2014, the U.S. Department of Interior stated that "the electromagnetic radiation standards used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out of date and inapplicable today" in reference to guidelines governing WiFi radiation frequencies.

In 2011 the World Health Organization classified radiation emitted by cell phones, and other wireless commercial infrastructure such as WiFi and smart meters as a Class 2B possible human carcinogen, along with lead, engine exhaust, and DDT. Yet, the global WiFi projects would make this exposure ubiquitous and inescapable.

A recent letter sent by 88 organizations, representing over a million people, to the European Economic and Social Committee outlines how governments are betraying the public trust by ignoring the hazards of radio frequency/microwave (RF/MW) radiation.

Studies show wireless radiation can adversely affect fetal brain development, in addition to causing double-stranded DNA breaks and causing a wide spectrum of illnesses. GUARDS believes that continuing and expanding involuntary exposure of the public to this known toxin violates the Nuremberg Code of Human Rights for non-consensual experimentation.

Satellite Deployment Plans

The eight companies seeking to provide global WiFi radiation include:

  • SpaceX: 12,000 satellites, 1,200 km and 340 km high

  • OneWeb: 2,000 satellites at 1,200 km and 2560 satellites at 8,500 km and

  • Boeing: 2,956 satellites, 1,000 km high

  • Samsung: 4,600 satellites, 930 miles high

  • Google: Approximately 100,000 high altitude balloons (62,500 feet) to achieve global coverage ("Project Loon")

  • Telesat Canada: 117 satellites, multiple orbits

  • Theia Holdings: 120 satellites, low earth orbit

  • LeoSat MA: 108 satellites, low-earth orbit

  • Iridium Next: 66 satellites, 483 miles high. An existing slow speed system. Launching of the "next generation" (higher speed) satellites is scheduled to begin in October 2015 and to be completed by 2017.

  • Astrocast: 64 satellites for M2M/IoT

  • O3b Networks: Has 16 satellites with aims to add more

  • Kepler Communications: Planning satellites for a variety of wireless communication applications with polar orbits

  • ViaSat: add 24 satellites, 8,200 km high

  • Globalstar: 24 satellites, 880 miles high. Already in operation at slow data speeds.

  • Karousel LLC: 4 satellites.

  • Space Norway: 2 satellites. Deliver service to arctic region, including Alaska

  • Audacy Corp.: Undetermined number of satellites at this time.


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