Gas-Out or White-Out?

R B Swenson

An e-mail message has been circulating recently on various list-serves:

"Last year on April 30,1999, a gas out was staged across Canada and the U.S. to bring the price of gas down, and it worked. It's time to do something about it again... LET'S HAVE A GAS OUT. Do not buy any gasoline from APRIL 7, 2000 THROUGH APRIL 9, 2000." [full text]

Plan B: do it on April 1st! "The Real Price of Gasoline" is already $5 to $15 per gallon, depending on what assumptions you want to make. It's just that we don't pay the whole tab.

We are all better off if the price of gasoline continues to rise. If not, we are all in for an even greater shock when we discover it can't be reasonably obtained, no matter what the cost. Americans consume their body weight in oil every week -- that's 25% of all that is extracted in the world. As long as Americans (and Canadians) fail to appreciate the tenuous nature of their privileged access to this precious material, humanity is in for big trouble.

I don't own a car, but over the past few weeks, whenever I have gone to or passed by a gas station, I have given a little cheer. Finally we are seeing prices go up. I have been waiting a long time to see this happen again.

There will be many GAS-OUT protests in the coming months and years. I encourage readers of this website to organize counter-protests to advocate yet higher prices and taxes to channel our addiction into constructive transportation alternatives. The challenge will be to figure out a way to get the real message across without alienating people. As Thoreau said in his Essay on Civil Disobedience:

O for a man who is a man, and, and my neighbor says, has a bone is his back which you cannot pass your hand through!

As the Gas-Out e-mail floated around, others offered up some choice comments that I can share with you:

"So, you think a gallon of gasoline is expensive? Well, here's a few things that Autoweek brought to the public's attention to compare.

"This is what it costs to buy a gallon of.....

... and this is the real kicker........

$21.19 FOR WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"So next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on White Out!!!"

Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000
From: Climate Action NOW! climate at
Subject: White Out in your tank?

Another choice comment:

"There is another energy source that is routinely ignored in the US, along with the very cheap vehicle it can power -- the huge reserves of fat around the average American's waist will be very useful for powering bicycles." Mighk Wilson, Hubbert Peak on-line discussion, 2000 March 3.

Appendix 1: The "Gas Out" e-mail

Subject: FW: Fw: The "Gas Out"
Sent: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 11:58 AM
> Subject: Fw: The "Gas Out"
> Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 08:35:00 -0800 (PST)
> >> Subject: Fw: The "Gas Out"
> >> Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2000 23:19:12 -0800
> >>
> >>> READ ABOUT THE GAS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
> >>>
> >>> Last year on April 30,1999, a gas out was staged across Canada and the
> >>> U.S. to bring the price of gas down,
> >>> and it worked.   It's time to do something about it again.
> >>>
> >>> Only this time lets make it for three days instead of just one. The
> >>> so-called oil cartel decided to slow production
> >>> to drive up gasoline prices.
> >>>
> >>> Lets see how many Canadian/American people we can get to band together
> >>> for a three-day period in April, NOT
> >>> TO BUY ANY GASOLINE, during those three days.
> >>>
> >>> LET'S HAVE A GAS OUT.   Do not buy any gasoline from APRIL 7, 2000 
> >>> THROUGH APRIL 9, 2000.
> >>>
> >>> Buy what you need before the dates listed above, or after, but try not
> >>> to buy any during the GAS OUT.
> >>> If you want to help, just send this to everyone you know and ask them 
> >>> to do the same. We brought the prices
> >>> down once before, and we can do it again.  Come on North America let's
> >>> stand together.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Even if you receive this 100 times keep passing it around, this way 
> >>> you know everyone is being informed
> >>> and no one will forget!!!!!!!!!!
> >>>
> >>> Pass this on!!!!

Appendix 2: Idea -- Hand out "our" lit at Gas Outs


What if we compile certain facts and figures about how cheap US gasoline is, about govt/corporate collusion to keep auto fuel efficiency so low, about how much single-person transport contributes to climate destabilization, about all the subsidies for this self-destructive behavior, and about the goals that should be set for fossil-fuel emissions reductions?

Then we make a flyer out of this info and take it to Gas Out demos and hand them out. If you send out press releases ahead of time, it's likely a reporter will put you on the news as someone "on the other side." So have your one-liner ready!

Mine will be something like

"The discussion about the gasoline issue should be about global warming and climate destabilization, not about consumer convenience."

Is anybody interested in working on this? Do we have any people with Photoshop and/or desktop publishing expertise?

How about a brainstorm on similar one-liners? Or two or three liners. Whatever you can say in about 15 seconds.

Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000
Subject: Hand out "our" lit at Gas Outs

Andy Caffrey
Director, Climate Action NOW!
P.O. Box 324
Redway, CA 95560