That the boycott is useless is a given. But is it also unethical?
That’s the claim that Chris Macdonald argues for at his Business Ethics blog. As Chris (and others) have pointed out, BP is no longer in the retail gasoline business. Almost all its outlets are privately run operations, not all of which sell exclusively BP gasoline. Other stations sell BP gasoline under different brand names, and besides, there aren’t many other companies out there that are ethically much better than BP. So, the boycott will hurt innocent small business owners, and not hurt the target at all. Sounds like a bad idea to me.
So how can you hurt BP, if that’s what you feel inclined to do? The best, and probably only, thing to do is radically reduce your fossil fuel consumption. Sell your car, buy a smaller house, stop flying, and so on. Alternatively (or should I say, in addition) you can redirect that anger to something positive — give money or time to one of the organizations working to mitigate the effects of the spill. Ultimately, the only serious solution will be a collective one, that keeps a lot more fossil fuel in the ground where it belongs. Might be time to sign up for the local chapter of Canadians for a Big Fat Carbon Tax.
Meanwhile, on a mostly unrelated topic, I’m having a contest over at my other blog. Entries more than welcome.