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Group Wants To Label Gas Pumps Like Cigarettes, Warn Consumers About Danger To Planet’s Health

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"Group Wants To Label Gas Pumps Like Cigarettes, Warn Consumers About Danger To Planet’s Health"

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Smoking tobacco causes cancer. Greenhouse gases warm the planet. These are things that scientists are at least 95 percent sure of.

The tobacco industry and the fossil fuel industry have other things in common besides extremely high levels of certainty regarding their negative externalities. Both are deeply ingrained in the political and economic system, both use campaigns of disinformation to confuse the public, and both rely heavily on wealthy donors who fund special interest groups that are averse to any change that could negatively impact their profits.

Now the Bay Area chapter of 350.org, an international group trying to help solve climate change, wants to make another connection between smoking and greenhouse gases — this time in the form of a warning label.

Called the “Dump the Pump” campaign, the group wants to raise awareness by putting stickers on gas pumps that would remind consumers of the consequences of their actions each time they fill up their tank. Just like every time you go for a cigarette you are reminded that smoking “causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.”

According to the campaign petition, the group is urging “city council to require warning labels on gas pumps to: (1) warn consumers that burning gasoline is causing global warming, and (2) inform people that our city has a Climate Action Plan to reduce CO2 in general and gasoline use in particular.”

George W. Bush said it himself — “America is addicted to oil.”

“Human beings are not really wired for seeing the cause and effect of climate change,” Jamie Brooks, with the Bay Area chapter of 350.org, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The cause is burning fossil fuels, but we’re not going to feel the effects until well into the future. There’s no immediate signal to a consumer of gasoline to show their effects on climate.”

Brooks told the Chronicle that they are proposing the idea to city governments, including San Francisco and Berkeley, which have legal power to impose the labels onto gas stations.

“The goal isn’t to take transportation away from people and say, ‘You’re a bad person,’” Brooks said. “The goal is to create a signal saying, ‘You need to change your behavior.’”

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