Urban Legends and Hoaxes:
Gas Out / No Gas Purchases on May 15th

First, here's the spammy chain mail message in one of its incarnations:

On May 15th ...
>>Passing it on, tell your friends?.
>>NO GAS...On May 15th 2007
>> Don't pump gas on MAY 15th
>>In April 1997, there was a "gas out" conducted nationwide in
>>protest of
>>gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.
>>On May 15th 2007, all internet users are to not go to a gas station
>>protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most
>>There are 73,000,000+ American members currently on the internet
>>network, and the average car takes about 30 to 50 dollars to fill
>>If all users did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would take
>>$2,292,000,000.00 (that's almost 3 BILLION) out of the oil
>>pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on
>>15th and lets try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry
>>at least one day.
>>If you agree (which I cant see why you wouldn't) resend this to all
>>your contact list. With it saying, ''Don't pump gas on May 15th"

So let's see what's wrong here.

First, there WAS NO GAS OUT in April 1997. So the very start is wrong. No gas out, prices did not drop.

Next, let's take their 73 million American Internet users and if they say they have a MINIMUM of $30 per tank at $3/gallon, that would be a 10 gallon tank. So that would be 730 million gallons they claim will be affected on one day by this gas out. Now, the Energy Information Administration (a government firm that tracks statistics in this area) says the entire US uses on average 385 million gallons each day. So even if every single person who WAS going to buy gas on a given day decided not to, it would only be half of their claim. And those people with empty tanks aren't going to just leave the tank empty! They're going to fill up either the day before, or the day afterwards. So they're still going to buy it. The oil company doesn't care if it's a day earlier or a day later.

Heck, half the people would probably buy the day before rather than risk running out of gas, so they would be giving the oil company an early bonus.

Next, with all the complaining people do about $3/gallon in 2007 dollars, back in 1981 we were paying $3.20 per gallon in 2007 terms (i.e. adjusted for inflation). So we're still cheaper now!

Never mind how spoiled we are in the US. We're being pampered by our government because we drive gas-hogging SUVs and minivans! Most of the world drives fuel efficient cars and tries to use little gas. We don't care! We drive our cars even for short trips, we choose cars that are big and comfy rather than fuel efficient. And then we want our gas to be cheap so we can use a ton of it.

Here's what other countries pay for a gallon of gas, as of March 2005:

Netherlands  $6.48
Norway  $6.27
Italy  $5.96
Denmark  $5.93
Belgium  $5.91
Sweden  $5.80
United Kingdom  $5.79
Germany  $5.57
France  $5.54
Portugal  $5.35
Hungary  $4.94
Luxembourg  $4.82
Croatia  $4.81
Ireland  $4.78
Switzerland  $4.74
Spain  $4.55
Japan  $4.24
Czech Republic  $4.19
Romania  $4.09
Andorra  $4.08
Estonia  $3.62
Bulgaria  $3.52
Brazil  $3.12
Cuba  $3.03

So buy a hybrid or other fuel-efficient car! I grew up riding in a station wagon, not a giant SUV with DVD players and low gas mileage! Ride your bike when you can. Walk when you can. If we were all more fuel efficient, THAT would make a difference.

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