Gas prices are rising and our air, water and soil is polluted with the toxic byproducts of fossil fuel extraction. Although our government claims it’s commited to a clean energy future, it’s all political lip service with no action.
So where’s a frustrated, angry, poverty-stricken populace to go for some relief?
Why not Facebook?
Last week, North Carolina resident Sarah Thompson took to the social network to see if she could organize an event to reach as many people as possible to have a day designated to boycott all gas stations across the planet–a global ‘No Gas Day.’
“I know this has been tried before,” says Thompson on the event page, “but not since Facebook has become the phenomenon that it has. So, send this event to everyone on your friends list, and let’s see if we can start our own revolution, by letting these oil companies know we aren’t going to stand for these prices!
“Simply avoid all gas stations on March 31, 2011. And if you can go one step further, don’t even drive that day. Why not let Facebook help us spread the word? However, don’t forget your local mom and pop shop. Go IN and buy something that day. Make a point of it!”
More than 5 million people from across the country have been invited to join, and 1,736,459 have agreed to participate. But more than 500,000 have selected to decline the invitation, often writing on the event wall that it “won’t make a difference,” and “could end up hurting the economy.”
What Thomson fails to mention in her appeal is that the government, guilty of supplying excessive subsidies to petroleum companies and therefore artificially suppressing the cost to consumers, is also responsible for wildly fluctuating gas prices.
The corporations are simply doing what they exist to do: make a profit.
And then there’s us: the people who beg, borrow and steal to buy the products offered to us by the petroleum industry. Yup, we’re responsible too.
But here’s what Thompson says to the doubters:
“…Since there seems to be so much confusion about what we are trying to do here, let me clarify now. This is NOT about thinking we are going to send gas prices plummeting downward because of this one day. This is about taking a stand, together, against greedy people whose commodity happens to affect ALL OTHER commodity’s prices. What other commodity does that? Let’s be the nation of innovators that we are and come up with something better!”
And she’s right. Boycotting gas for a single day won’t do nearly as much as biking or walking to work instead of driving; supporting legislation that would boost the public transit system in America; or (gasp!) giving up your car altogether.
There’s actually some evidence that boycotts such as this actually benefit the gas companies because people stock up the day before. And if you have no plans to really curb your gas consumption permanently, I’m sure the gas companies are content to wait a day or two for you to return to the pump.
Now don’t get me wrong: if No Gas Day gets even a fraction of its 1 million+ participants thinking about the injustices perpetrated by the petroleum industry and riled up about our government’s resistance to renewable energy, it’s a win.
But it only matters if they take that knowledge/anger/indignation and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Image Credit: Flickr - makdune