This week, the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, became the first in the nation to post bright yellow “warming” labels at gas pumps warning consumers of the latent climate and public health harms that result from gasoline combustion.
The labels are part of a nascent, global effort to generate public buy-in for the policy and behavioral changes we’ll all need to make if we want to keep the Earth from warming beyond the 1.5 celsius threshold. That means transitioning to electric vehicles, ramping up public transportation, and simply driving less.
It may cost under $30 to fill up your tank right now, but there are additional — and important — climate and public health costs that remain invisible, meaning the price of gas is actually much higher. In 2015, I (Drew Shindell) calculated in a widely cited paper that these “external costs,” which include the climate and air-quality damages resulting from combustion, add nearly $4 per gallon. In August, I testified to the House Oversight Committee with an updated methodology that estimates the true cost of gasoline is closer to an additional $6.50 per gallon. That cost is already an emergency.
The idea for... Read more