Yesterday was the unofficial "Gas Boycott" of 2007. I wonder if the oil industry even noticed.
Considering how Vancouver is said to be a very "green" city, I was expecting transit to have a few more people than usual. Oddly enough, there were more new cars on the road, and the busses were quite empty both on the way to work and back. The weather was absolutely gorgeous outside, so why would anyone want to spend the $2.25 on transit just for the opportunity to sit next to people who go out of their way to ignore you?
I wonder who started the email chain calling for the boycott. It wasn't the same crowd that pretends to be begging our help to illegally smuggle a few million dollars out of the country (for a small up-front fee and all our personal information). But just like the Nigerians, big numbers were thrown around in an attempt to sell us on "Oooh" and "Aaah" factors. Here's a copy of the email. Oddly enough, I managed to get one this time:
Subject: FW: Don't pump gas May 15th 2007
NO GAS...On May 15th 2007
Don't pump gas on may 15th
In April 1997, there was a "gas out" conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.
On May 15th 2007, all internet users are to not go to a gas station in protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most places.
There are 73,000,000+ American members currently on the internet network, and the average car takes about 30 to 50 dollars to fill up.
If all users did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would take $2,292,000,000.00 (that's almost 3 BILLION) out of the oil companies pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May 15th and let's try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day.
If you agree (which I can't see why you wouldn't) resend this to all your contact list. With it saying, "Don't pump gas on May 15th"
I'm curious to know where these figures came from. Sure, it's some pretty big numbers, but somehow I doubt that every person on the internet has a car. And I really doubt that everyone has to fill up each and every day. If I was paying $30 a day in gas, I'd have to be either very stupid or a member of some royal family.
I don't recall a "gas out" in 1997, but I know there was one in 1999. Gas prices didn't fluctuate at all according to historical trends and, despite the popularity of the email campaign, very few people took part. How many people had email in 1999? A few million?
If, say, a hundred million drivers refused en masse to fill up their tanks on May 15, the total of what they didn't spend could amount to as much as $3 billion. However, it doesn't follow that such a boycott would actually decrease oil companies' revenues by that amount, given that the average sales of gasoline across the entire US is under $1 billion per day in the first place.
Whether the total impact was a half-billion, 3 billion, or 10 billion dollars, the sales missed due to a one-day consumer boycott wouldn't hurt the oil companies one bit. Think about it. Every single person who doesn't buy gas on Tuesday is still going to have to fill up their tank on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, making up for Tuesday's losses. Sales for the whole week would be normal, or very close to it.
A meaningful boycott would entail participants actually consuming less fuel -- and doing so in a sustained, disciplined fashion over a defined period of time -- not just choosing to wait a day or two before filling up as usual. Perhaps the next campaign should focus more on getting people to carpool or taking transit on alternate weeks. Since I live alone and have nobody to drive around, I gave up my car years ago. For less than $1200 a year I have relatively unlimited travel in the Vancouver area, thanks to my bus pass and solid knowledge of what's available in the community. Sure, I can't just hop in the car and go somewhere, but it means that I'm putting less carbon into the atmosphere. I really dislike seeing a hundred SUVs pass me by where there the only person inside is the driver. It just reeks of waste.
Having money is just fine. But try to leave some of the planet behind for the rest of us.