06 June 2007

A lethargic green writer

There has always been a chasm between the stuff written by medical correspondents and "health writers" on many newspapers. The former are specialist science writers whose beat includes the latest goings on on medical research. This is territory that is also the natural habitat of many science writers with a broader remit. Now, it seems, we have to find some way to differentiate environment correspondents from "green writers".

Just as health writers will cover any old tosh that deals with the human body, be it quack remedies or copper bracelets that cure snoring, while medical writers want some science behind their articles, we had always thought that an environment writer also built on scientific foundations. Indeed, many science writers also cover the environment which is, after all, a highly scientific subject.

Evidence that the green writers do not need this underpinning of science comes in the shape on an article that appeared in The Independent, My war on electrosmog by Julia Stephenson. The article is yet another in the saga of slow death by electromagnetic radiation that surfaces from time to time around mobile phones and, more recently, wifi. Ms Stephenson, whose own embryonic web site verges on the cleavage side of photography, has been feeling tired of late. Even her plants are in a bad way.

The self styled "Green Goddess" consulted her naturopath who "insisted that my exhaustion was caused by electromagnetic "smog" in my flat". Apart from finding it dodgy that anyone writing on such matters should consult a naturopath, I am puzzled that she also feels the need to talk to a "London-based complementary health practitioner". Ms Stephenson quotes Dr Nicole de Canha as saying "Any imbalance in our electromagnetic field creates a disturbance in cell structure and function, which can lead to illness in sensitive individuals."

Where, we have to ask, did Dr de Canha acquire that PhD? Therapynet, which seems to be a place for such folks to advertise their magic, tells us little beyond saying that the good doctor has a Doctorate in Homoeopathy, as well as Sports and Therapeutic Massage Diploma, Indian Head Massage, Ear Acupuncture Diploma. There is a link to Relax-O-Therapy but the website wasn't there when we clicked it.

It is depressing that a newspaper as solid as The Independent carries this sort of tosh. Perhaps the one saving grace is that they file it under "Lifestyle".

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