VOX POPULI: Living up to our climate rhetoric means accepting rising oil prices


Gasoline was “as vital as blood in the battles to come,” French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) said during World War I.

With these words, he tried to convey his country’s urgent need for help from the United States, which at the time was the world’s largest oil producer, according to the book “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power ”by US author and energy expert Daniel Yergin.

In his strong feelings for oil, Clemenceau may well have met his opponent today in the person of US President Joe Biden.

Soaring gasoline prices are seriously damaging America as an auto company. They are also lowering the approval ratings of the Biden administration.

Earlier this month, the president pleaded with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to increase production to lower crude oil prices.

But not getting the response he hoped for, Biden decided to release oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve and sought cooperation from Japan, China and other major energy-consuming countries.

He apparently needed to let the nation know ahead of the 2022 midterm elections that his administration was serious.

But I’m somewhat baffled by the fact that weaning America off fossil fuels was one of Biden’s presidential campaign commitments, and that tackling climate change is still a central commitment of his administration.

And it’s not just Biden that’s puzzling me. As if no one remembers the COP26 talks earlier this month, more and more Americans are now calling for increased oil production.

In the midst of the current transition to a carbon-free world, it is natural to put the brakes on oil drilling.

Obviously, drastic price fluctuations that have a direct impact on people’s lives need to be brought under control. But in the long run, there is a need to accept higher crude oil prices and adapt society accordingly.

In Japan, for example, strawberries are more in demand around Christmas than when they are in season in early summer. And to meet the demand in winter, the berries are grown in greenhouses that burn a lot of heavy oil.

Consumers should also ask themselves if they are doing the right thing.

–L’Asahi Shimbun, November 26

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that covers a wide range of topics including culture, the arts, and social trends and developments. Written by veteran writers from Asahi Shimbun, the column offers useful insights and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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