Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.35 (June 12, 2008) ============================================================
"Never give up. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
Last Sunday, I conversed with astronaut Akihiko Hoshide in outer space, who successfully attached the inboard laboratory of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" to the International Space Station.
"Seen through the window, I felt that the Earth's existence is truly wonderful and fragile."
The beautiful Earth that Mr. Hoshide spoke of is beset by a variety of problems on the ground. Since the Industrial Revolution, human society has developed at breakneck speed utilizing fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum as energy sources. But more than 200 years after the Industrial Revolution, we now stand at a major crossroads.
The price of a barrel of crude oil, which used to sell for a dollar back when I was working for an oil company about 40 years ago, has now surpassed 130 dollars. Moreover, the surge in energy prices is linked to the global food problem, which I mentioned in last week's e-mail magazine.
According to a United Nations report, global warming, which is caused by an increase in the atmosphere of the concentration of greenhouse gases such as CO2, has the potential to create serious problems if the situation continues as it is with regard to climate, water, and ecosystems.
In order to protect our planet and ensure that we hand down to future generations a "truly wonderful" Earth, those of us alive today have to start off a process of major change -- a "low-carbon revolution" -- which will be comparable in significance to the Industrial Revolution that commenced more than two centuries ago.
What should Japan do, then, to bring about this revolution? I announced my ideas at the beginning of this week. However, this is not something that can be solved by government action alone.
The joint efforts of government, industry, and local communities are necessary in order to establish a low-carbon society, and each and every one of the people is a part of the driving force of the low-carbon revolution. What is essential is positive actions, including lifestyle choices such as switching to energy-saving home appliances and making greater use of public transport.
This is not an issue for Japan alone. Needless to say, Japan should lead the world forward by making use of the world's most advanced energy-saving technologies. But we should also remember that global warming knows no borders.
The CO2 emission volumes of countries, such as the United States, China, and India, which have not made commitments to curb emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, now account for around 70% of total world emissions. It will be impossible to protect our planet without a concerted global effort.
"Never give up."
This was the advice given by Mr. Hoshide, who on his third attempt realized his own dream of becoming an astronaut, in response to a question from children who asked, "What is important in order to realize your dreams?"
The arduous journey to the low-carbon society has just begun. I would like us all to move forward steadily, one step at a time, together with the people of countries around the world.
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