There are two groups of people who say things like “Oh, yeah!” when passing a gas station selling unleaded for $3.09/gallon, or fist-pump when they hear that light sweet crude is selling for $91.41/bbl.
Rex Tillerson and his cronies in the oil business (e.g. Republican Party)…
Me (and my family and some others).
Our reasons are different.
Rex wants money. And he’ll get it.
I want climate change and related legislation. And I’ll get it … eventually.
Am I A Bad Person For Wanting Oil Prices To Rise?
No, I am not a bad person.
The bad person is all those in our Senate who failed to recognize the importance of climate change, and deniers, and all the others who are foolishly preventing a rational response to climate change.
Most of these people know they mainly want to retain power, or remove people from power. They know what they are doing, and that it is wrong. These are bad people.
To be sure, rising oil prices tend to hurt many people, mostly the ones with less money (a recurring theme these days). Here in the northeast, many people heat their houses with oil. People use gasoline to drive to work. It’s real.
It’s so real that one could argue in the last big oil price spike, it set the national agenda and was a factor in electing our President. Some would even argue that high oil prices were the straw that broke the camel’s back, sending us into the Great Recession. High oil prices hurt.
How High Oil Prices Help
However, high oil prices also do a few other things:
- High prices help remind us that we’re dependent on oil (and other energy)
- High prices help demonstrate that relatively small price increase signals can result in significant reductions in consumption
- High prices also demonstrate that change is temporary; when prices fall again, so will our memory
- High prices let us know that putting a price on carbon would help us finally get off this roller-coaster
Because the US Senate failed to act on climate change in 2010 (blame whoever you want, it doesn’t matter: we failed) the world will take even longer to start dealing with the issues of climate change in a real way.
(I recognize that oil is a relatively small contributor to GHG emissions compared to coal and natural gas. Price isn’t the point. As we have seen lots of things change when oil prices increase. It’s not just increased fuel efficiency — everything about energy is affected. It hits people in their wallets, and, whether for the right reasons or not, they react.)
So all we can do now is hope for oil prices to rise. Because of the reasons cited, high oil prices seems to be the only thing that will awaken us as a nation sufficiently to result in longer-term legislative response to climate issues.