Wi-Fi Threat to Trees Rooted in Shaky Stats

Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 12/12/2010 17:04

A study that implied that 70% of urban trees are sick because of exposure to electromagnetic radiation from Wi-Fi towers show how quickly sensational numbers can spread.

Recent headlines in international newspapers, on television news and in technology blogs highlighted a startling statistic from the Netherlands -- 70% of urban trees are sick, up from 10% a few years earlier. Coupled with a second recent Dutch study that found trees exposed to Wi-Fi transmitters suffered damage to their leaves, the number painted an alarming picture of city maples and oaks withering and dying from exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

But statisticians, urban foresters and even the researchers themselves say it is too soon to declare an urban tree epidemic, let alone to blame Wi-Fi. The Dutch tree figures are from a study of 600 trees in one small city this year, and the apparent jump in tree illness is based on a misleading comparison.

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