The Ordinary Futurist: A 2010 Review of my own predictions about climate change and related topics

On to the one area which is more important than technology or government…the environment.  Here is my analysis of how I did at predictions related to Climate Change and related topics last year:

Prediction: While we’ll probably continue to flail politically, green business will rise out of the recession and start to make it less of a political issue. After all, who needs to mandate things people are making money on? Success stories: conservation, green transportation (smaller and electric cars), and – at least in 2010 – less needless consumption.

How did I do? I’ll actually rate this as mostly right.  We have flailed politically.  Cancun resulted in nice but non-binding plans.  There are success stories in the electric car market – the Volt and the Leaf are both to market and have waiting lists (although they are a tiny part of the overall car market). We are seeing conservation successes.  Here is a success story about the Kestrel, one on wild turkeys, and another for a snake – the antiguan racer.  I think those of us who care about the environment tend to talk down success because there is so much left to be done, but it’s nice to know it’s possible.  Although I haven’t looked up figures for it, I’m guessing that the year of continued recession (and that’s what it was, for most people and industries) meant less consumption.  I’m sure we’re not doing any of this as fast as we need to, but maybe we’ll get faster as the effects of climate change get clearer.

Prediction: I’m going to re-make last year’s prediction. In some areas at least, things will get worse. I don’t know if it will be drought, hurricanes, ocean carbon, or ice melt, but the Earth is reacting faster than we expect it to. More extremes.

How did I do? I got this one right.  The affects of climate change have continued to be chaotic and tough.  Doubt me?  Here are a few links:

Prediction: Smart grid will be the buzzword of the year, and a big business opportunity. Mostly still in large projects and on corporate campuses, rather than on the national public grid.

How did I do? Mostly a miss. Smart grid talk has fallen off of the national news so it didn’t become the buzzword of the year.  I suspect that cloud computing will drive the need for more reliable grid, as well as further implementation of green energy (which is happening – take the eastern route from Seattle to Bend – across the 90 and down the 97 – the landscape is very different now).  I did find a good article while I was doing my homework though.  Yes, progress happened.  But not as much as I thought.  I’m beginning to think smart grid will be a background technology that the public only hears a bit of while it’s slowly built out.  That would be okay, as long as it gets done.

Prediction: The percent of people who believe climate change is happening will rise again, approaching 70% again (as of October 2009, it was measured at 57%).

How did I do? Missed.  I guess I keep thinking Americans believe in science or even observation of the world around them.  I guess not.  Here’s an article on GRIST that tries to explain, but doesn’t really do a much better job than I do.  Maybe we need to put our electronic toys away and look around us.  The part that worries me about this topic is that sometimes when I need to learn something, I need to get hit over the head by something big to actually change.  A progression.  Like from a gentle slap to a two-by-four to a metal baseball bat to a bullet.  As a species, we’re onto the two by four and getting close to the metal baseball bat on climate change.

So that’s a wrap on my prediction games from 2010.  Yes, I’ll play for 2011 too.  Maybe tomorrow.  In the meantime, I always like this exercise, and what matters isn’t whether I’m right or not, but that we talk about these kinds of topics lest we entertain ourselves into an early grave as a species.  I still believe we’re better than that.

1 thought on “The Ordinary Futurist: A 2010 Review of my own predictions about climate change and related topics”

  1. I think your prediction are pretty apt insofar as a base political view can be. Don’t get me wrong but we have been singing the same old song about politicians long before my fathers father was born. I would have been truly impressed if you predicted the coming of the Technocon. That would have been a truly interesting prediction. There is a great possibility on the horizon to empower ordinary people through none violent means to radically upset the status quo in such a way, the power brokers would never see it coming. We have a chance to really effect change without the help of our clueless politicians. If we can muster enough people with the resolve we can live better healthier and more meaningful lives…..

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