Big coal ’s “insulting” PR spin: Company claims dirty energy could have solved the Ebola crisis
Peabody Energy is accused of exploiting the deadly outbreak to promote fossil fuels.
West Africa’s ongoing Ebola epidemic is continuing to prove a massive challenge to global health officials, to the extent that the outbreak, which has killed 11,065 people and infected 26,000 others, has caused the World Health Organization to completely reconsider the way it approaches public health crises.
And to think that, if only we were more supportive of Big Coal, we could have avoided all of this.
This, according to a Guardian report, was a real argument put forth last year by coal giant Peabody Energy, which, as part of a campaign to rebrand coal from being seen as a climate change-causing, lung damaging pollutant to a “21st-century fuel” capable of solving global poverty, suggest that coal was the solution to Ebola:
Greg Boyce, the chief executive of Peabody, a US-based multinational with mining interests around the world, included a slide on Ebola and energy in a presentation to a coal industry conference in September last year. The slide suggested that more energy would have spurred the distribution of a hypothetical Ebola vaccine — citing as supporting evidence a University of Pennsylvania infectious disease expert.
That expert, infectious disease specialist Harvey Rubin, had spoken previously about the importance of continuous refrigeration, and therefore reliable energy, to the distribution of a hypothetical Ebola vaccine (none, as of yet, have been approved for use in humans). But he told the Guardian he “know[s] nothing about the coal industry,” and was annoyed that they spelled his name wrong in their presentation.
Other public health experts contacted by the Guardian are considerably more peeved by Peabody’s suggestion:
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