Category Archives: Corruption

Final Project Update

Throughout my time in Greenworld, I’ve become extremely uncomfortable knowing and witnessing firsthand how common illegal idling occurs every day in New York City. I will be writing and directing a short film concerning the urgency of addressing illegal engine idling on a local level in New York City, especially now that America has a new President-elect. This matter has never been more urgent than right now. The President-elect’s notions regarding climate change or preserving and protecting our environment are pitiful and terrifying. I am not one to claim someone is wrong. However, scientific facts exist to prove his statements are based on opinions, not facts and are therefore incorrect.

Anyway, back to the project… I first learned from George Pakenham that there has been an anti-idling law on the books in New York City since 1971 and has gone almost unenforced, all the more emphasizing the blatant disregard and terrifying indifference this important health and environmental issue brings to light. Ultimately, I will be using this filmmaking platform to make idling enforcement more of a priority as well as to educate people of Bill 717, an anti-idling bill currently being proposed and reviewed in New York City, the monetary incentive New Yorkers could receive by reporting illegal idling if Bill 717 passes (which happens to be a comfortable yearly salary), core traits and reasoning behind human behavior (specifically why people do not take action when they know what they’re doing is wrong or is not helping a good cause), and finally, distributing information on how to continue moving forward with this issue, which is by going from the top down and inundating specific members of the NYPD with statistics regarding the immediate action necessary to make anti-idling enforcement more prevalent in NYC and to begin discussing this issue more around the internet to increase awareness of what tremendous damage this is contributing to the environment.

My new friend, Isabelle B. Silverman of the Core Fuel Engine Group has been kind enough to discuss my final project with me and she’s provided me with some excellent places to start taking action prior to knowing whether Bill 717 gets passed or not. For instance, anyone could send countless email to the NYPD Chiefs Michael Pilecki and Chief Chan.  Chief Chan is the head of the NYPD Transportation Unit and Pilecki is his Deputy. Isabelle also suggested reaching out to Mayor DeBlasio and asking him to make idling enforcement more of a priority especially given the thousands of 311 calls on idling that’ve resulted in no action. Here are their two emails:

thomas.chan@nypd.org

michael.pilecki@nypd.org

Webpage where submission for Mayor DeBlasio can be made:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/static/pages/officeofthemayor/contact.shtml

We should also be tweeting about this and posting on Facebook. Any social media presence helps!

Inundating them with these emails, tweets, and Facebook messages should help tremendously because they will have to start talking about it. There is also the possibility that students could start a social media campaign, even write a Care2 petition and get it signed online. Here’s some of the text from Isabelle. She believes it could be sufficient to be emailed, tweeted, or posted on Facebook:

“Illegal engine idling considerably contributes to bad air quality and noise which is why, since 2010, 40,000 New Yorkers have filed 311 idling complaints. Idling is clearly an important issue to New Yorkers but the 311 complaints don’t lead to tickets because the vehicle is gone by the time the DEP gets the complaint. The NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEA) are the city agents that are best suited to hand out idling tickets. Currently, TEAs only issue about 2,500 idling tickets compared to 9 million expired meter tickets.  Given that issuing idling tickets is more confrontational because the driver is usually in the vehicle, please dispatch a few hundred TEAs in pairs and make it their main focus to issue idling and double-parking tickets. Often, double-parked vehicles also idle so they should get two tickets. This law has been on the books since 1971 and has gone almost unenforced. Thank you very much for your consideration to this important health issue!”

The Persevering Class

The New Yorker’s “A Valuable Reputation” examines yet another case of an ethical scientist vs. a large corporation. This is not the first nor the last case of science vs. profit, and in this unfortunate system of deregulation and privatization, the only solution, it appears, is to completely change the system.

When science, economics, and politics become so intertwined that the goal of safeguarding humanity becomes obsolete, it’s clear that the system is fundamentally flawed.

A few days ago, I visited the Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm, and after being in the concrete jungle of New York City for so long, seeing nature really refocused my attention on its importance and relevance, even in the city.

While many people follow the notion of “out of sight, out of mind,” the importance of knowing what is going into our bodies is ever so important in a world of profit driven farming, where corporations will do anything, including breaking the law, to make more profit at the expense of the environment, our health, and the law.

Scientists like Dr. Tyrone Hayes, Rachel Carson, and Frances Oldham Kelsey work diligently to maintain ethics in science and research and it’s unfortunate and unnerving to read about the mistreatment of scientists who solely wish to protect humanity. Targetting his credibility as a scientist, Syngenta made Dr. Hayes paranoid and seemingly mentally ill. The power they had to control his life in order to hide the truth about their harmful product is frightening, and surely the government and the EPA needs to take better steps to regulate products in an objective way. It’s refreshing to hear about people like Frances Oldham Kelsey, though, and to see how their dedication and ethics can truly prevent disasters.

This article deeply explores the idea of “sound science,” a campaign by corporations to “slow the pace of regulation,” as stated by the article’s author, Rachel Aviv. As we’ve seen in Merchants of Doubt and various other articles and films, corporations need only produce a certain factor of doubt and uncertainty to divide the public and keep their products in the marketplace. And focusing their attention on these issues, as opposed to the science itself, corporations lose track of what’s important in the grand scale of the world and long term impact.

What surprised me about corporations such as Syngenta is their focus on public relations departments. While one might think the purpose of such a company is to provide safe products that enhance, for example, the way vegetables are grown, these companies instead focus on convincing the public that their product is safe, rather than spending the time and money to make a new, hopefully safer one.

This article, however, introduced my to the process of cost-benefit analysis, in which, according to Aviv, “a monetary value is assigned to disease, impairments, and shortened lives and weighed against the benefits of keeping a chemical in use.” This system frightens me and I expect a majority of the public would agree that no product, regardless of its economic benefits, would be worth the lives of innocent citizens.

Thinking about how different products might impact my daily life, I think about NYU’s food service Aramark. From the personal scale of seeing the workers pour gallons of pre mixed eggs from huge bags onto the stove to make scrambled eggs to seeing the precut fruit coming out of sealed packages rather than being freshly cut, I am disgusted by their practices here in the dining halls. But, I can only imagine where this food is coming from and how they and their contractors treat the animals, fields, and workers.

Of course, everything I read online about Aramark and every corporation is going to be biased, but I’ve learned through this article to continue questioning everything, to look closely at the sources of all research and products, and to never sell myself out for money.

Transparency through Fashion

Within our day-to-day lives, it can be difficult to see past what is only visible on the surface. We choose to investigate, dig deeper, and find out how the world around us is functioning. Often times, we rely on visual cues to set us into question. Through connecting these visuals to our investigative work, we aim to find answers that connect with our bank of knowledge. Once we find transparency, we often want to share this with others and make it more accessible to them than it was to us.

The film, “Merchants of Doubt” set me into thinking about this idea of transparency between consumer, company, and in this case, our third party, the environment. The tool used by these big CPA’s was doubt. The doubt acted as a layer of opacity, blocking the consumers from being able to pull back the curtain, and view the truth of the situation. This idea of transparency is a driving force in the concept of my midterm project in which I would like to explore the lines of capitalism and the environment through clothing.

The article, “The Fashion Industry and Its Impact on the Environment and Society” brings a level of awareness to the destructive impacts the fashion industry, specifically fast fashion, has on the environment globally. It is claimed “that the garment industry is the world’s second biggest world polluter” although it is hard to decipher exactly what impact it is having as the production process is much larger than one might think. The process spans the agriculture of fibers, manufacturing textiles, dying, printing, bleaching, construction, and shipping and that is only up to the point of the sale of the garment. In this line of manufacturing is the demand for water, fertilizers, dye chemicals, and waste in product.

Past its life on the line of manufacturing, a garment may be worn and then discarded as the next style comes in. A garment is either then resold, or disposed of. Only 15% of discarded clothing is resold or recycled. As highlighted by the article, the resale of clothing may not be a globally conscious act. It states, “not only does the availability of such a great quantity of second-hand clothes create unemployment within the garment sector of developing countries, but it also negatively impacts economic growth and destroys the designs inspired by local cultures and traditions.” This is not something the average consumer would know or be expected to infer even though it is something they interact with daily.

Fashion is not only a form of expression, but it is a form of communication. We send a message to those around us with our dress. I want to tap into this tool for communication to bring the issues discussed about capitalism and the environment to the forefront. Bringing these topics into our every day through dress allows it to be more visible. Placing it in context of our own bodies brings a point of interest to the closeness of these issues.

The looks will be created through styling, constructing new pieces, and altering old clothing. I plan to use the process of upcycling, taking an old garment and creating something new from it, as a key part of these conversational pieces. Putting these larger devices in conversation with one another, I hope to create curiosity and questioning. I aim to use my visual tools to set others into question and find a new level of transparency.

 

Shown below is the beginnings of my visual research aiming to begin a vocabulary of the organic, inorganic, human, non-human, industrial, and natural and how they may manifest themselves in art and fashion.

Broken Battle

How the West Was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom reaffirmed the notion that small communities are being abused by large corporations. The Turners lost the health of their land in Wyoming starting in the 1980s when the federal government began to use land just east of their ranch for coal mining. In order to gain access to the coal they suck up the water, which caused water levels to drop dramatically. When the Turners brought this information to the Wyoming Supreme Court their case was dismissed on the grounds that there were no “specific harms on their properties.” Reading this, it is crucial to recognize how the institutions on political and social platforms meant to protect us are actually harmful. In fact, it became law that oil, gas and coal companies restore the land’s natural environment when they are done mining. But according to the Turners, “only about 10 percent of the land strip-mined has been fully reclaimed.” However, the Turners admitted that they did accept an “income from fees paid to them by oil and gas companies that gained access to their land.” But does everyone get compensation for destruction brought upon them? And is it worth it?

Gary Packard drives past a newly constructed oil well that sits at the edge of his ranch. (Photo: Ed Glazar)
Gary Packard drives past a newly constructed oil well that sits at the edge of his ranch. (Photo: Ed Glazar)

In the article, The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare, you’ll see that it’s an incredibly arduous road to get any compensation or attention toward injustice. Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years before he took on the chemical giant DuPont. He was approached by Wilbur Tennant, who was concerned with a large pipe running through a creek and discharging “green water with bubbles on the surface.” That same creek flowed down to the pasture where Tennant’s cows grazed on and started acting “deranged.” The cows were suddenly suffering with “stringy tails, malformed hooves…and staggering bowlegged.” When Bilott filed a federal suit, it was ignored and established that the Tennant’s were at fault for their cows’ illness. Bilott pushed on and came across a letter DuPont sent to the E.P.A. about PFOA, which was short for perfluorooctanoic acid. At first, his request for all documentation on this substance from DuPont was refused, but in the fall of 2000 he requested a court order and won. Through this, he discovered that DuPont scientists had known for years that this chemical was bad, and affecting water everywhere. People and animals were getting sick, dying even, and nothing was being done. DuPont decided to settle the class-action suit and pay for medical monitoring, but were still not taking responsibility. It took seven years for the company to admit their “probable link” between PFOA and the numerous health problems. But what about the thousands of families and communities affected by risks such as this? What if they don’t have the time, money or resources to protect themselves?  

The chemical site near Parkersburg, W.Va., source of the waste at the center of the DuPont class-action lawsuit. BRYAN SCHUTMAAT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
The chemical site near Parkersburg, W.Va., source of the waste at the center of the DuPont class-action lawsuit. BRYAN SCHUTMAAT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Fortunately, Earthjustice is a hopeful organization that establishes a solution for this exact problem. Earthjustice is the largest nonprofit environmental law organization that fights for a “healthy world.” That is an incredible feat when you take into consideration the large corporations such as DuPont, and sometimes the federal government, who are abusing their immense power. To break the system is a difficult task, but Earthjustice is doing it and I find it incredibly admirable. Climate change is a very real and serious issue caused by humans. But the people in Earthjustice are the “legal backbone” that will get the attention and action done in order to make a difference. Earthjustice could have definitely helped the Turners and the Tennant’s, and would have done it free of charge.

The more I research and realize the potent dangers of large institutions that influence my everyday life, I am inspired to take action. It is frustrating to see innocent families be taken advantage of. Our world is sick, inside and out, and change needs to happen now. Even though I feel small in comparison to the problems ahead, I am confident in my art and will continue to use that as a vessel of expression to stop oppression.

 

NATURE: The Plaintiff against INDUSTRY

I write in response to these heavy articles:

  • http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html?_r=1
  • http://www.takepart.com/feature/2016/09/30/how-west-was-lost-ranchers-devastated-fossil-fuel-boom?cmpid=organic-share-twitter

coalcows

The above image makes me feel many things. The main takeaway is that when you intermingle the industrial world with the natural world, there is something greatly off-putting. When you look at the image, the first uncomfortable detail is the smoke. It suffocates two-thirds of the image like a looming annoyance.post_smoke

But after I see the smoke, I start to focus on many other issues. The industrial giant: carving out the horizon with its harsh lines.

post_giant

The cows: grazing in peace while their lungs fill with mysterious byproducts.

post_cows

The trees: cut down to make space for the industrial giantpost_trees

The invisible organisms: the animals and plant life that were pushed out of their ecosystem long ago.

post_invisible

The ones that may never return.

 

 

 

 

All of this sounds very harsh and depressing, but it is real. After reading these articles, my mind was racing in a similar way. When you dive into a big issue like the fossil fuel industry depleting the state of Wisconsin or DuPont poisoning communities nationally with unknown chemicals, it is hard not to watch your brain spin.

Person under crumpled pile of papers with hand holding a help sign

The articles uncovered many aspects of industrial corruption and coverup. They revealed the true power of these industries: A power that can profit meanwhile destroying the health of the people, community, and ecosystems surrounding them.

post_money

In Bryan Schutmaat’s article, “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” Lawyer Rob Billot went through the treacherous journey of these discoveries. The issues he found were much more serious then he had ever thought before. Like the image of the cows in front of the industrial giant, he was lost in a world where all the issues intertwined.

A similar dilemma is described in Emily J. Gertz’s article, “How the West Was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom.” The powerful industries of an area were able to maneuver their way through laws and land and they could quickly take the health of that whole environment into their hands. If this was not true, Wisconsin would still be the Wild West.

Ironically, Wisconsin’s state slogan is: Stay Just a Little Bit LongerAmerica’s Dairyland.  post_quarter Agricultural protection is not on the Fossil Fuel Industry’s agenda.

 

Instead… I think the “FORWARD” thinking that Wisconsin had prized has become something more like:

post_wisconsin

The scariest part of all of this, though, is not just the effects it has put on these ecosystems and communities; with the great power of these industries comes great resources to fight, fight, and fight.

Although Rob Billot fought DuPont for much of his career, his battle was not a full victory. They are still using chemicals that are quite similar to PFOA, and many of these chemicals are still floating around our everyday lives.

post_dupont

If there is anything to be learned, it is that these battles cannot be fought alone. Wisconsin farmers are just a few. They watch their land degrade but they stand little chance against professional schemers. Similarly, civilians of a community with poisonous water might develop cancer but not even be aware of the cause because their water companies do not have to list the levels of chemicals that it contains.

They must be helped by others that can put up a fair fight against the professional schemers. They must join forces with members of the community that can challenge and try to change the laws put in place. Only TOGETHER do I think that anything can change.

post_plant

Although he did not win it all, Rob Billot did a brave and incredible amount of work. He opened up the conversation about environmental protection in relation to the world of Justice.

This is where Earthjustice comes into play. There is hope at the end of the tunnel if we have someone to help us take on these big industries. Earthjustice thrives on taking down the powerful and profiteering so that the communities from near and far can be improved. Because they are nonprofit, their drive will never be one like these industrial powers: they understand that a piece of paper is not as important as others make it out to be.

post_cant-eat-it

 

Earthjustice has proven to work. They have helped environmental groups and movements throughout their history on a range of different issues. They understand that many of these environmental issues intercept, therefore they fight for healthier land, oceans, air, and animals.

post_earthjustice

It is always important to remember, though, that these lawyers cannot help if they don’t have many others willing to bring the issues forward. As they describe on their website: “The generous support of hundreds of thousands of individuals like you allows us to take on the most important cases and stick with them for as long as it takes.

They also highlight that awareness and education is essential in the battle against environmental issues. For this reason they have advocacy campaigns that focus on this. It is important that every environmentalist joins in spreading awareness.

The case against DuPont is well known, but how well known?  If it had been spread around even more, how might things be different?

 

Reconsider this photo:

coalcows

Take a breath.

 

 

While all of these issues at once might be overwhelming, when you break them down and fight together, it is possible to make change.

 

Watch this Documentary: Why We Fight

There is a powerful documentary from 2005 called “Why We Fight.” I urge you to watch it, especially if you are curious about how the politics of war in the US operate. Below is a trailer:

To summarize what I found educational about this film is that is shows you how big of a corporate business our war is in America. It elaborates on the strategies in the war on Iraq and wars today. In relation to environmentalism, it talks about how they use resources and develop weaponry for MASSIVE profit.

I saw that the actual film can be watched section to section on YouTube or rented through Netflix DVD )

Minitrue

1984

It has been sixty-seven years since 1984 was published and society still censors its history. With the presence of technology and social media our reception of information has changed drastically. Facts are distorted and readers become desensitized to the issue at hand. We are experiencing history as it is being tailored by the power of its owner. And the majority of those owners are made up of politicians with big money. With an issue like climate change, politicians alter information in order to best suit their corrupt agendas. For example, in the debate last night, Hillary called Donald Trump out on what he had previously stated that, “global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese”. Although Trump denies this he has stated in the past that climate change is not real.

Actually, Trump has called climate change a “hoax” on several occasions. He said on Meet the Press that he was joking about China’s role. As PolitiFact noted: “On Dec. 30, 2015, Trump told the crowd at a rally in Hilton Head, S.C., ‘Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a moneymaking industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.'” — Domenico Montanaro

Clinton, on the other hand, wants to put up thousands more solar panels for energy and the creation of more jobs. If we have someone in charge of this country who won’t acknowledge global warming, we will end up living in an environment with less regulations, leading us to an environment more like Beijing or New Dehli.

In fact, the air quality in New Dehli has reached dangerously high levels of toxicity and only appears to be climbing further and further towards extreme pollution. On the road alone, there are 9 million registered drivers in the city of New Dehli, 1400 new cars that hit the streets each day and vehicles run by some of the poorest fuel quality in the world. Not to mention, Dehli’s air is also clouded by coal-fired fuel plants, construction dust and cooking fuel. The air quality in New York City is (surprisingly) low compared to cities such as Beijing and New Dehli. But, with potential politicians (such as our Republican Presidential nominee) claiming that we need less regulation in environmental policy, we may not be so far behind.

Perhaps the new Minitrue is our current Presidential candidates, or the laptop on our desk and the cellphone in our hand.

Indian Point Final Documentary

Summary:

After a long journey, filled with a lot of new information, not only about Indian Point Energy Center but also about nuclear power in general, Tucker and I have completed a cut of our documentary for the class. This cut is only five minutes long and our work is certainly not over. We have hours of information about Indian Point and the nuclear power process from a variety of experts including Dr. Irwin Redlener director of Columbia’s Center for Natural Disaster Preparedness, Arthur Ginsberg, an ex-engineer at Indian Point, and Physician’s for Social Responsibility board member Alfred Meyer.  We would like to continue to work on building this documentary and adjusting it to fit the issue as the debate evolves. The issue of Indian Point remains to be a current issue locally and the debate over nuclear power as a resource remains contested nationally and globally.

Issues We Researched:

Some of the most interesting, and unexpected issues we learned about during our research and interview processes were

• The Algonquian Pipeline and the issues with its expansion so close to Indian Point.

• The effects of thermal-pollution on surrounding aquatic environments.

• In depth knowledge about the inner workings of nuclear power plants, including how they have evolved over time and the various safeguards installed.

• The history of Indian Point and the activist movement against it.

• Nuclear Power as compared to other forms of harnessing energy such as solar power, oil, and natural gas.

Some Highlights:

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Arthur Ginsberg, an ex employee of Indian Point, drew Tucker and me a diagram of the closed circuits within a nuclear power point. 

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Tucker and I went to Peekskill to see Indian Point’s proximity to the Hudson river for ourselves. Tucker couldn’t resist the selfie. 

IMG_4082

We saw the power plant from pretty close up, our ability to reach the plant so easily sparked our curiosity about the possibility about Indian Point as a possible terrorist target.

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Tucker attended and participated in a rally by the activist group SAPE (Stop Algonquian Pipeline Expansion) and noticed the very small amount of young individuals protesting.

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Through our research, in particular our interview with Alfred Meyer, we discovered that Indian Point rests upon not one but two (Stamford-Peekskill and Ramapo) fault lines. 

Our Process:

Initially Tucker and I were inspired to do our final project on the Indian Point Energy Center (Nuclear Power Plant) when Alfred Meyer came in to discuss the issue with our class. The more research we did on the power plant the more interested (and upset) Tucker and I became about the issue. After our interview with Alfred, Tucker and I were led to some interesting sources including the group SAPE. Through this exposure to activist groups we realized that we were not the only ones who were upset by this issue. But it would’ve been too easy to round up these activists and make a documentary arguing against Indian Point with their semi-credible knowledge.

So we looked for sources who could help us understand the multi-faceted debate surrounding Indian Point. I contacted several individuals from both the NYU Langone Medical Center and the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.  One source who was especially helpful in steering me in the right direction was Lorcan Folan, an engineer at Tandon who put me in touch with Dr. Redlener and Arthur Ginsberg. Dr. Redlener, director for Colombia’s Center for Natural Disaster Preparedness, gave me great insight as to how a problem at Indian Point could affect the entire surrounding community and coastal areas. Arthur Ginsberg was a very essential source as he spent 36 years of his life working for Indian Point in various positions from managing the control center to acting as one of the head engineers. He told Tucker and I about some of the inner workings of the plant such as their emergency plans and the training required to work at Indian Point. He also provided a counter-view that was in favor of the re-licensing of Indian Point and the continued use of nuclear power.

Tucker and I learned an incredible amount on this journey. But we do not plan to end the project here.

Arthur Ginsberg has discussed with us the possibility of visiting the facilities at Indian Point Energy Center, and we intend to take him up on this offer. We have an ample amount of footage to continue editing and we intend to stay informed on the still developing issues. We would like to eventually have a cut to send to film festivals and to organizations that could use our film to educate and empower others.

Our Product:

We hope that you join us in saying no to extractive industries and fighting for a cleaner, safer energy future!

~ Tucker Pearson & Georgia Krause

 

Down with Big Soda!

I would like to start this post off by encouraging everybody to follow @KillBig Soda on instagram and support the movement behind the hashtag #KillBigSoda. It would mean the world to me, as well as help spread the word on these horrible big businesses and their harmful messages and products.

coca-cola-logo

Alright, now let’s get into the real issues. The overall summary of the problem goes something like this: Big name sodas, such as Coca-Cola, have been marketing the fact that sugar is not bad for you. The cure to obesity is in exercise, and not a reduction of sugar intake. This, clearly, is not true. And yet so many Americans drink soda on a daily basis, which is essentially killing them. Not only has Coca-Cola been a deceptive company in the past but they continue to be.

So here is what we know, The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is our current problem. The ACSM is a corporation that offers trainer certification for athletic professionals. They are seeking to be the only licensing entity for trainers in the U.S. That would mean every trainer who didn’t have their license/ certification through the ACSM would be unable to continue their business. It would be equivalent to practicing medicine without a license, and you would be subject to fines, arrest, or both. This seems legitimate right? You would assume that athletic trainers should have a level of qualification to be doing their job correctly. But here is the real problem with all of this: Coke is a major sponsor and partner of the ACSM, as is Pepsico and Gatorade. Now why is this a problem? In order for you to understand, we need to dive into a little bit of history with these companies.

ACSM_horizontal

Last Fall Coca-Cola was exposed by the New York Times for paying scientists to expel the “myth” that eating to much, and sugary drinks, were the leading cause of weight gain. They wanted to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet.

This was Coca-Cola’s response to the science of obesity coming out to the public and a period of rising efforts to tax sugary drinks, remove them from schools, and stop companies from marketing them to children. In the last two decades, consumption of full-calorie sodas by the average American has dropped by 25 percent. So Coca-Cola’s idea was to start an organization called the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) whose website administration was registered to Coca-Cola Headquarters. Since 2008, Coca-Cola had been providing millions in funding for various projects to two of the GEBN members to essentially shape obesity research in their favor, and stifle criticism of it’s products. Thankfully, the GEBN was disbanded in late 2015.

10COKE-1-tmagArticle

So what is happening now? Well, after Coca-Cola was outed by the New York Times they wanted to reassure the public that they were still a “trustworthy” company and vowed to be more transparent about their funding. Coke has vowed to act with “More Transparency” and disclose a list of health and well-being partnerships and research activities they have funded in the past five years, one of which being the ACSM. If we tally up the seven entries found in the Coca-Cola database, we find that Coca-Cola has paid the ACSM Foundation at least a total of $865,000 in the past five years. But that’s not all. Coca-Cola can also influence the ACSM by targeting its officials, not just by funding the organization directly. BlairFor example, former ACSM president Steven Blair is on the advisory board of Exercise is Medicine (EIM), a joint ACSM-Coca-Cola partnership. EIM is an initiative focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients. Sound familiar? it should, because this is identical to Coca-Cola’s previous campaign scandal. Steven Blair was personally paid $4,626,000 by Coca-Cola.

 

BUT, that still isn’t everything yet. It only get’s worse with this so called “transparency” act Coca-Cola came up with. We know from the Coca-Cola Foundation’s 2013 tax forms that the majority of Coca-Cola’s donations to health and fitness went to organizations outside the US and Canada. Coca-Cola’s money that goes to ACSM officials or programs outside of the US is not listed in their transparency listings. Judging by the Coca-Cola Foundation’s 2012-2013 tax returns this exclusion may hide a significant amount of Coke funding. Meaning Coke would have paid closer to $240 million, not a merely $120 million, to health scientists and organizations over the past five years.

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Now that we have one company out of the way, we have to talk about Pepsico which is the owner of Gatorade. They are another sponsor of the ACSM. The ACSM isn’t looking to good right now, is it?

Gatorade as a beverage contains just as much sugar as Coca-Cola, and that isn’t even it’s biggest problem. Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in the blood is too low. This happens when your body is overly hydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine advocates the amount of fluid intake for an athlete should be “the maximal amount that can be tolerated.” Gatorade advocates, “at least 40 oz. of fluid an hour.” Neither of which are true. The average water bottle is 16oz. That would be equivalent to drinking 2.5 bottles of water every hour. After at least 17 preventable deaths, Gatorade and ACSM officials finally confessed to both counts of false advertising. People had to die before these companies came out about their wrong doings. Athletes should just drink ad libitum, or when they feel like it. Humans possess an effective mechanism for preventing hyper-hydration and severe dehydration: thirst. Gatorade leverages its relationship with the ACSM to influence coaches’ and athletes’ drinking practices. Gatorade, and its owner PepsiCo, are quite open about this. Gatorade has spent the last four decades and billions of dollars misleading athletes and coaches about hydration, and they continue to do so with their “Beat the Heat” campaign.

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Now, if the ACSM gets the power to be the sole licensing agency for athletic trainers false information will be given to public at an alarmingly fast rate. Our ideas of fitness and nutrition will be governed by big business and greedy CEOs. I myself am an athletic trainer and will not stand for this. America already has an alarming obesity percentage as well as poor physical education requirements. Let’s not add to the problem,  but stand up against it. Please join me in the fight and KILL BIG SODA!!

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