The United Nations weather and climate agency, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), has warned that the latest 5G mobile phone technology jeopardizes early warning services which protect people from natural disasters such as tropical cyclones.
In a resolution expressing “serious concern at the continuing threat to several radio-frequency bands” of 5G, WMO’s executive Congress insisted that forecasting and alert services operated by countries had led to a big reduction in the loss of life in recent decades.
WMO’s spokesperson Clare Nullis explained that “we use these radio frequencies in the meteorological community…there’s concern that because of growing competition from new technology we’re going to be squeezed out of these frequencies.”
Weather alerts are linked to radio sensors that feed information into forecasting systems to provide more accurate predictions with longer warning times.
Experts are concerned that failing to manage unwanted emissions from new telecommunication technologies “would have a significant impact” on current weather-forecasting practices. Consequently, they say, it might reverse many of the gains in our warning services for natural hazards.
WMO’s comments come just two days after the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission defended the use of spectrum for 5G wireless services. At a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee on June 12, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai dismissed claims that 5G services operating at the 24 gigahertz band could interfere with weather observations and thus degrade the accuracy of forecasts, saying studies that made those claims were flawed.
Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the Department of Commerce, and NASA have said that 5G could interfere with the detection of water vapour in the atmosphere.
On June 14, WMO’s ruling conference endorsed a package of measures to strengthen early warnings against hazards like floods and tropical cyclones and to ensure that these become part and parcel of humanitarian operations.
It decided to spur work on a Global Multi-hazard Alert System that would pool information from national and regional systems that already exist or are being planned and endorsed efforts to boost impact-based services, which focus on what the weather will do rather than purely what the weather will be.
The WMO Congress agreed that there is a special need to strengthen early warning services in urban areas, which are vulnerable to multiple hazards, including floods, storms, heatwaves, sea-level rise and poor air quality. It also reinforced its commitment to strengthen global cooperation to combat sand and dust storms, which are a major problem to people’s health, the environment and economies.