Why Gas Pump Warning Labels Are a Good Idea


label-low_2-300x300Warning labels are a fact of life. They are widespread on the products we buy today, including those ghastly labels of rotting teeth, and the like, on Canadian cigarette packages.

But on gasoline pumps, not so much. There may be warnings not to smoke around the pump (duh!) but none to tell you about the dangers of actually using the product.

A Toronto man, with an admonition from his dying grandfather to ‘do what he loves,’ is trying to change that. He is starting at the municipal level and cities are starting to take notice.

Rob Shirkey is the driving force (forgive the pun) behind Our Horizon, which wants to put a big fat label on your local gas pump telling you that filling up your car is harmful to you and your environment.

“Use of this fuel product contributes to climate change which may cause drought and famine,” reads one proposed label.

Believe it or not, the big oil companies are not jumping on his bandwagon. Shirkey is not worried about that.  Also a lawyer, he has determined that local governments have the power to enforce the labeling. He also doesn’t have a need to depend Canada’s famously pro-oil petro premier, Stephen Harper.

Our Horizon doesn’t have a single hamlet signed up — yet. The non-profit organization has already come close. A small town in British Columbia, with precisely one pump under labeling threat, voted 4-3 to reject the initiative.

Shirkey remains optimistic. “There are roughly 4,000 municipalities in Canada,” he told CopyCarbon by email. “I have no doubt many will pass the by-law in the coming months.”

He said there are about a dozen communities in the highly populated southern Ontario region awaiting release of its legal research “before pursuing the matter.”

Shirkey has launched a crowd funding initiative to pay for a Canada-wide promotional tour. His Web site shows they have already raised $7,000 in its drive to raise $50,000.

He believes Our Horizon is the largest e-advocacy campaign to ever hit Canada. “No other group has enabled citizens to advocate for an idea at the municipal level from coast-to-coast.”

His aim: “We want to pack city and town halls from coast-to-coast with kids speaking for their future,” Shirkey said.

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