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Clean energy debate gets super snarky with "Coal Cares" site
by Kathryn Robbins on May 13, 2011
You may have noticed in recent months that the coal industry has purchased a lot of ad time on cable networks. Many of them are running spots that tout coal as a clean and safe energy source that creates jobs. A group called “Coal Kills Kids” (CKK) is calling shenanigans on the dirty industry with their satiric site called “Coal Cares” that targets the world’s biggest coal company.
Visitors to Coal Cares may think that the site was sponsored by Missouri based Peabody Energy, but it was actually designed by CKK, an offshoot of the Yes Men. The group generates great fun by “Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.”
Coal Cares doesn’t just make fun of Peabody, it outright skewers the company. The kid-friendly site offers a section that aims to destigmatize asthma and inhaler use in children. If they live within 200 miles of a coal plant, parents can get a free Puff-Puff™ inhaler featuring the likes of Justin Beiber, Elmo, and even those crazy kids from the Twilight movies. In addition to a free inhaler, there’s a printable coupon that good for $10 off their next prescription. Or as Clean Coal puts it, “easing a taunted child's burden of suffering has never been easier — or more economical!”
While they made fun of the connection between coal and respiratory ailments, CKK saved the biggest chunk of laughs for the “‘Clean’ Energy” page. They refute every clean energy source including wind and solar energy. They claim that wind energy is not just dangerous to birds, but also to humans.
Violently spinning turbine blades are a potential decapitation hazard for curious passers-by who climb up the ladders often installed on the shafts. Also, these high, easy-to-climb structures can be an irresistible temptation for depressives lost in the flatlands where turbines are usually sited, and seeking a means of suicide.
Given the smackdown that CKK gave Peabody, the company was forced to release a press release that clarified that they were not behind the site. Part of the document centered on the relationship between “low-cost coal and improvement in health, longevity and quality of life.” Peabody cited a study by the World Resources Institute (WRI) that found that for every ten-fold jump in energy use people live ten years longer. The problem is that the WRI never issued such a report and has a “long standing support for a global transition to cleaner, low-carbon energy.”