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Warning: This Gas Pump May Cause Drought and Famine

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These days, we see warning labels everywhere. These messages tell us to stay away, use extreme caution, or keep things out of the reach of children. But what impact do they really have on our actions? Could a warning label convince of that something we use every day is a life-threatening danger?

A new Canada-based non-profit is convinced that they could. The organization, called “Our Horizon”, is currently raising money to organize support behind a labeling campaign–not for GMOs or toxic chemicals, but for gas pumps.

The organization’s founder, Toronto environmentalist Rob Shirkey, feels that it’s too easy for today’s consumers to disassociate tar sands and oil spills from the other side of the equation–our endless demand for affordable gasoline. Shirkey thinks warning labels on the gas pumps themselves “could activate guilty consciences and give people a nudge to make more environmentally friendly choices, whether that means buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle, choosing to take public transit, cycling or petitioning governments and industry for environmental initiatives,” reports Good News Toronto.

We recently caught up with Shirkey to find out more about his grassroots campaign, and what concerned citizens can do to help.

1. What inspired you to make gas pump labels your organization’s main mission?
We have several unique campaigns but this is our first one.  As a small organization, we don’t have the capacity to run the others just yet. Part of the inspiration was based on the idea that senior levels of government weren’t doing enough on climate change. I asked myself, “What can cities do?” and came up with a variety of ideas (I’m a lawyer with a background in municipal law). The idea is that municipalities can use their licensing powers to require gasoline retailers to place these labels on their gas pumps.

There also appeared to be many environmental organizations that were fixated on pipelines, tar sands, etc. but few actually seem to ask the question “What do we use this stuff for?” You can’t stop a pipeline or stop oil extraction without addressing the demand-side of the equation.

2. What proof is there that labels of this sort will actually deter people from driving?

A meta-study on the effectiveness of tobacco warning labels (the most comprehensive study on the subject) concluded: “There is clear evidence that tobacco package health warnings increase consumers’ knowledge about the health consequences of tobacco use and contribute to changing consumer’s attitudes towards tobacco use as well as changing consumers’ behavior. They are also a critical element of an effective tobacco control policy.”

But we like to de-emphasize the link to tobacco and focus on why the labels are particularly compelling in the context of climate change.

Climate change is also a problem of dif­fu­sion of respons­ib­ility. As indi­viduals, our con­tri­bu­tions to the problem are small, but col­lect­ively, our actions are altering the chem­istry of our planet. Psychologists know that when respons­ib­ility for some­thing is dif­fuse, we fail to act. The labels locate respons­ib­ility. The place­ment of the image on the nozzle takes a problem of dif­fuse ori­gins and loc­ates respons­ib­ility right in the palm of your hand.

>>Keep Reading for more with Rob Shirkey of OurHorizon.org!

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Read more: Do Good, Environment, Make a Difference, Nature, News & Issues, , , , , , ,

Images via Our Horizon

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Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.

66 comments

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5:25AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Thanks

6:21AM PDT on Sep 17, 2013

Continued from previous post:

...which has also been publically discussed as another source of "carbon taxes."

6:20AM PDT on Sep 17, 2013

Amazing the unending contrived cult obsession continues funded primarily by the oil companies as well as gangsters in government seeking to profit off "cap & Trade" and "carbon taxes". Articles and videos like this continue playing into complete fabrications and further financial rape of those who can least afford to have their energy prices increase, based on a generation long orchestrated fraud. These foolish spectacles continue to be an effective diversion from the REAL environmental crises and “change in the basic chemistry of our planet”, where we are really “running out of time”, such as the continued irreversible contamination of the planet by Fukushima and nuclear power throughout the world, deliberate poisoning our soils and plant life as well as destroying the ozone through chemical trails, accelerating GMO damage to our natural biosphere and fertility, etc. Unbelievable how the corporate propaganda media and their financial benefactors continue getting away with demonizing CO2, a life giving gas required by plants and trees, which by the way is not the highest in human history, and is a moot point anyway given warming leads CO2, not the other way around. We should all economize, given the primary pollutant from auto emissions is Carbon Monoxide, not Carbon Dioxide. However, for those still falling for the CO2 mythology, why not just stop driving your car, and you may want to reconsider your breathing, which has also been publically disc

4:57PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

I'm afraid many people are too ignorant to care... :(

6:59AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

5:14AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

Make effective use of what we've got

2:52AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

1:28AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

thanks for the information

1:22AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

Thank you for the info.

5:41PM PDT on Sep 12, 2013

Thanks.

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