Opinions

Nova Scotia garlic farmer hates technology

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If there's one thing in the world that should have global span and dominance it is the Internet. This beautiful invention provides us with tons of information and makes it available at our fingertips. Whether you're looking for news, sports, entertainment, research, communication with distant family and friends, "free" downloadable material or things unmentionable in polite company, the Internet has something for everyone.

The requirements for surfing this planetary web are getting simpler by the day. All you need is a computer -- or any other of the multitude of devices containing web browsers -- and a service provider in your area. Access to the Internet, however, is not yet global. Those who live in third-world nations have more pressing matters to deal with than acquiring computers or internet access, but there is reason to believe that in the future it will become cheap and accessible enough for most of us. The Internet has the potential to be one of the benefits of a globalizing world.

As for all inventions with global influence, some will resist the changes or attempt to thwart the building of necessary infrastructure. Nova Scotia garlic farmer Lenny Levine is opposed to the construction of a high-speed Internet tower that is planned within a few hundred meters of his property. Levine feels that the tower will irradiate his garlic crop, mutating it and thereby ruining his business. Levine appealed to the local Kings County municipality after which council members rejected the application from regional Internet service provider EastLink to build a tower near his property. Levine's fears have little basis as he has no statistical evidence that his crops would be harmed. Also, the level of radiation that the towers emit is much lower than what is allowed by Health Canada. Meanwhile, the council's decision to disallow the project will leave hundreds of area residents with dial-up connections at best.

Though there is much to learn about the effects of radio waves on organic material, we need only look at devices we currently use to determine whether we are comfortable with the risks. Microwave ovens emit radiation and yet most of us keep them in our households.

Cell phones can emit small amounts of radio waves but are used by the vast majority of us. We put these devices next to our brains every day. Certainly a radio tower hundreds of meters from a farm is acceptable, given the radiation "risks" we commonly use. We should not deny the wondrous gift of high-speed internet to the public simply because one individual feels it might, but probably won't, disrupt his business. What about businesses that rely on the speed of their Internet connection? I suspect that Levine has not considered them.

If it's worth anything, I would still buy Levine's garlic crop, as garlic is delicious, with the full knowledge that he has a tower built somewhere near his property. So should anyone, at least until evidence is produced that shows these miniscule radio waves have a negative effect on crop growth.

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