Buy cigarettes and the label warns of health risks. Buy a gallon of gas and, well, nothing.

A group of activists in the San Francisco Bay Area thinks the difference between tobacco and fossil fuels isn't that great. Both cause irreparable harm and both should be labeled as such, it says.

The local chapter of 350.org has started a petition campaign to get local officials to pass a new city ordinance.

It would mandate gas station owners to inform patrons that burning gasoline causes global warming, and that the city has a climate plan to reduce emissions.

2014-01-16

Co.Exist

We Label Cigarettes And Food For Harmful Side Effects, So Why Not Fossil Fuels?

That's the question a group of Bay Area activists are asking as they hope to get an ordinance for gas pump warning labels on the city agenda. Who doesn't want a little more guilt on their morning commute?

Buy a packet of cigarettes and the label on the side will tell you all about the health risks (in some countries, there will also be a picture of a guy with a hole in his throat, or something similarly gruesome). Buy a gallon of gas and, well, nothing.

A group of activists in the San Francisco Bay Area thinks the difference between tobacco and gasoline isn't that great, given that climate change is a pretty world-changing side effect of fossil fuel consumption. Both cause irreparable harm and both should be labeled as such, says the local chapter of the grassroots climate organization, 350.org.

The group has a petition campaign to get local officials to pass a new city ordinance that would mandate gas station owners to inform patrons that burning gasoline causes global warming, and that the city has a climate plan to reduce emissions.

"CO2 emissions represent a menace to the future habitability of our planet, and oil companies should no longer be able to sell their product with impunity," argues campaign manager Jamie Brooks. "Municipalities have a moral obligation to disclose the risks of these emissions to consumers, and warning labels would be the best way to do this."

In a presentation, the 350.org group argues that labels are a way of "problematizing" climate change. One the main reasons little is being done on the issue, they believe, is that the effect seems a long way off. Consumers are not encouraged to account for their choices in the present day.

Brooks insists that the point isn't to demonize pump customers, but rather to make them more aware of the consequences of fossil fuels. "The goal is to create a signal saying, ‘You need to change your behavior,’" he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

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1 Comments

  • The make-believe band-aid approach to Ecocide: Instead of public policy, shift the burden onto the consumer without providing any alternative, with the the puerile expectation masses of people, enough to make a difference, will voluntarily give up their automobiles to avoid a guilt-laden label at the pump.