Thursday, August 18, 2005

Oil be damned


I have received a chain email from a friend, which contains the following message:
Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a litre is CHEAP, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the market place not sellers. With the price of petrol going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of petrol come down is if we hit someone in the pocket by not purchasing their petrol! And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. Here's the idea:

For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY petrol from the two biggest oil companies (which now are one), ESSO and BP. If they are not selling any petrol, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Esso and BP petrol buyers. It's really simple to do!! Now, don't whimp
[sic] out on me at this point... keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

[The message then goes into standard chain email mode, ie "send this to ten of your friends, and if they send it to ten of their friends, etc, etc"] PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE 69p a LITRE RANGE. It's easy to make this happen. Just forward this email, and buy your petrol at Shell, Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Jet etc. i.e. boycott BP and Esso.

Now, assuming that this is a genuine campaign and not just yet another tedious virus-in-all-but-name waste of time, it's all very well and good. Wasted on me, since I neither drive nor own a car, but nevertheless. However, I'm afraid there are much better reasons to boycott BP and Esso than a selfish, kneejerk, you-hurt-my-wallet consumer reaction. For example:

  • Esso gave more money to Bush's campaign in 2004 (and 2000) than any other oil company.

  • Esso ran campaigns in the US against the Kyoto Protocol, and has funded 'think-tanks' whose sole purpose is to discredit the evidence for the consequences of climate change.

  • Esso (unlike BP, funnily enough) puts no money into renewable energy sources.

  • Esso is expanding its oil and gas production, and lobbying to exploit natural resources in Alaska (BP is also doing the latter).

  • BP is an investor in PetroChina, which is attempting to increase its exploitation of resources in Tibet. These means moving thousands of ethnic Chinese into Tibetan areas.

  • BP have colluded with paramilitary groups in Colombia and forced Colombian peasants off their land (BP is the biggest foreign investor in Colombia). A similar 'militarised corridor' is planned for the new pipeline running through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

  • BP tried to sue Greenpeace for £1.4m of retributive damages in 1997, which would have put the campaign group out of action.

More on Esso here and on BP here and here and also here.

And (for balance) for info on why everything in that email is talking out of its arse, go here.

(Footnote: Further research reveals that this is indeed just another viral email, and not a genuine campaign at all. I knew all along, of course...)

[UPDATE: Tim Worstall has received the same email, but his reasons for criticising it are briefer than mine.]


Blogger gda said...

I hadn't heard anything about the chain letter but have for some weeks been diplaying a notice as a personal protest in a similar way - I am taking Monday off < if anyone is going to protest then it is only common sense that A) we all do it at the same time , B) that it doesn't damage the people that it is supposed to support ie Fuel Users. and C) that it is Effective - Putting aside the obvious environmental arguments, Can oil producers and governments continue to hide and monpolise both oil and other alternatives and continue to purport to be active in the pursuit of greener fuels- of course they can!,and will. Only recently the Americans have said they will Up their production. Whatever the excuse it is now transparent that they are witholding reserves( don@t for one minute think they are alone in doing that). The only viable option is to vote with our feet and to keep doing it until it works, that can only be acheived by all protesters going in the same direction at the same time and must be done with universal support from the public. That cannot happen where protests penalise everyone - I wonder just how quickly the government will listen or, when it will question the amount of money Mp's receive as travel allowances if everyone takes every Monday off

3:44 pm  

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