Image: Screengrab from Coal Cares
Peabody Energy is the largest private sector coal company in the world. As such, it's partly responsible for the hundreds of thousands of cases of respiratory illness caused by pollutants emitted from coal-fired power plants. Thankfully, the company is doing its part to ensure that coal is the cleanest, safest energy there is -- by providing free asthma inhalers to all of the children who suffer from the respiratory disease across the nation as part of its heartwarming Coal Cares campaign. Not. Okay, so this is clearly a prank, and a good one at that. Here's the intro on the front page of the "initiative's" website:
"Why Free Inhalers? Because COAL CARES.
Coal Cares™ is a brand-new initiative from Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company, to reach out to American youngsters with asthma and to help them keep their heads high in the face of those who would treat them with less than full dignity. For kids who have no choice but to use an inhaler, Coal Cares™ lets them inhale with pride.
Puff-Puff™ inhalers are available free to any family living within 200 miles of a coal plant, and each inhaler comes with a $10 coupon towards the cost of the asthma medication itself."
Along with being the leading emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, coal plants spew particulate pollutants into the air that cause asthma, cancer, and a number of respiratory illnesses. Coal plant emissions do give kids asthma, and are a leading caused of missed school and work days. And burning coal costs the United States an estimated $500 billion annually, largely in health care costs, according to a Harvard Study. Which is why this stuff is funny, but darkly so:
The Coal Cares™ Puff-Puff™ line of free novelty-themed inhalers--from "My First Inhaler," to "Twilight," to "the Bieber" and beyond--will transform the inhaler into a cool, fun, stylish accessory for asthmatic children of any age. Thanks to Peabody, pulmonarily-challenged youngsters will now be able to tell uncaring bullies to "suck it."
Coal Cares also has a BP Global PR-esque satiric Twitter Feed to boot, that rattles of gems like "Asthma has been unfairly maligned. Compared to cancer, it's really not that bad. #CoalCares #PR #Peabody".
Any effort that exposes the burden that relying on coal power places on the American public is a welcome one -- this just happens to be pretty damn funny, too.
Update: The hoax is almost certainly work of everyone's favorite green hucksters the Yes Men.