Real poison?

Sweetened beverages, or so-called “sugary sodas,” have acquired a nasty reputation as major contributors to child — and adult — obesity.  But the damage they cause is not confined to that alone.  Sugary sodas, experts warn, also play a significant role in climate change, pollution and in income distribution inequity.

Currently, almost 60 million acres worldwide are dedicated to sugar cane production.  The energy employed in planting, irrigating, fertilizing, harvesting, refining and distributing sugar is almost impossible to estimate accurately, but, according to Dr. Thomas Wyatt, Professor of Bioscience at the University of East Anglia, “the number is fairly stupendous.”  Other scientists point to the impact this large-scale cultivation has on the global biosphere, particularly in tropical areas of Brazil, China, India and other nations with lax or nonexistent  agricultural pollution standards and enforcement.  As a result, millions of tons of carbon and carbon compounds are discharged into our atmosphere, while millions of acres of CO2-eating greenery has been eliminated.  The effect on climate change “is considerable, and still growing,” writes Kit Marlowe, author of “The Threat of Gaseous Emissions ” and “Fizzy Sodas And Our Fizzling Climate.”

Given the clear correlation between obesity and poverty in developed nations, sugary sodas present a different sort of hazard to national economies.  “Whereas poor people in the past were distinguished by their malnutrition, the 20th century saw a reverse in these characteristics,” points out Robert Herrick, Director of Social Nutrition at the George Gordon Center for Economic Unification.  “The bottom twenty percent of American wage-earners comprise 54% of the obese segment of our population,”  Dr. Herrick  reports.  “It’s unfortunate but a fact of life that overweight people are discriminated against in terms of employment opportunity and career advancement, and much of this obesity stems from consumptive of sweetened beverages.”

So — Coke and Pepsi aren’t just selling soda pop that promotes early diabetes, cardiac arrest, vital organ enlargement and kidney disease.  They’re poisoning our planet and our pocketbooks.  The next time you think about having a cold drink, take a cold hard look at the facts.  You’ll say:  “Make mine water” — and help make yourself and our planet a lot healthier.