Gas Pump Warning Labels

Big Oil hasn’t had a lot of competition in the past and even with great advancements and improved technologies in alternative and renewable fuels and vehicles, people still love their gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs and the lower price tags of regular vehicles.

A retired transportation engineer from Oakland, Jack Fleck, decided that he could do something about the immunity of oil companies by placing warning labels on gas pumps. He likened this to the labels on cigarette packages. Tobacco companies can still sell their product, but need to warn people of the harmful effects on both themselves and others. So, Fleck thought, oil companies must also be upfront about the harmful effects on the environment when using their product. These labels don’t need to be aggressive; a purely informational label could work just as well to spread the message.

While these labels might not affect even a small percentage of people and the way they buy cars, it’s a step in the right direction and it will encourage people to contemplate their duty and responsibility to help mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Big Oil won't stop producing, but we can stop using. Whether we buy an alternative fuel vehicle or simply bike, carpool and use public transportation more, we can make all the difference moving forward. If just 10% of us did this, we could save over 25 million tons of CO2 emissions each year!

There has been a lot of negative backlash on this idea, including Fox News contributor and political blogger Michelle Malkin going so far as to ask “‘Why don’t they just ban gas stations?’” Unfortunately, there are lots of people who think this is an appropriate response – they don’t see or feel the urgency of this issue. Additionally, the oil companies sponsor political candidates to spread a much less grim picture of them, thus affecting the thoughts of many Americans on this subject.

Despite this, plans and mock-ups of such labels are being developed in San Francisco and Vancouver as well as other cities and Fleck is sure that we will start to see them at gas stations soon. Hopefully they'll get more attention than these parking signs that have been popping up in L.A.