Gas Pump Stickers For Political Advocacy

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Photo credit: wingless warrior via photopin cc

Stickers have long served as tools for political advocacy, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to take even the briefest of drives without finding oneself faced with a political bumper sticker. Another popular place for political stickers? Gas stations or, more specifically, gas pumps. Many gas pumps are adorned with political stickers, but it’s almost certain none of them were placed with prior approval. However, that might be changing as at least one group is pushing for global warming warning stickers to not only be allowed on gas pumps, but to be mandated.

A San Francisco chapter of 350.org is trying to get global warming stickers placed on California gas pumps, according to an SF Gate article by David R. Baker. The stickers would tell drivers that California has deemed global warming to be a major threat, and that it’s caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, no one needs a mandate to use stickers to promote political ideas. And even though there are legal ways to use stickers – on your own property and with permission on others’ property – and illegal ways – just placing them everywhere without permission – it’s practically impossible to stop political activists from illegally placing stickers anywhere they want because it’s very difficult to catch them in the act. At the same time, such activists have no way of stopping property owners from removing said stickers.

The measure sought by SF 350.org (if you will) would be a game-changer in that it would actually mandate the use of stickers for political advocacy. The article compares the stickers to cigarette pack warning labels, but this is different: those warning labels are applied to warn of personal health risks, ones for which every individual is responsible. The global warming gas pump warning stickers will be applied to warn of global catastrophe, and one that remains debated, in an effort to motivate individuals to change behaviors that will ultimately impact the entire world.

It begs the question: can such stickers motivate social responsibility? Or, much like cigarette pack warning labels, will they be ignored as just part of the noise?

What do you think? How effective would such stickers be, and should cities and states be allowed to mandate them?