Last week I reviewed the top ten green stories of 2006. But looking back is easy. What's going to happen in 2007?
I have no clue. But being wrong carries no penalty in U.S. punditry, so I'm going to make a few predictions anyway. Twenty, to be specific.
- Al Gore will a) win an Oscar [update: or rather, his movie will], b) announce that he is not running for president, c) continue his efforts at grassroots movement building, and d) announce plans for a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth.
- No developed country will consume less oil or emit less CO2 in 2007 than it did in 2006.
- There will be sound and fury over farm- and price-support systems, talk about "renewable energy," and lip service paid to organic and small-scale agricultural practices, but in the end, the 2007 Farm Bill will do little to alter the basic dysfunctional shape of U.S. ag policy.
- An amount of money sufficient to reduce U.S. demand for fossil fuels by at least 25% will be spent on the Iraq war. Instead of the enormous returns the former investment would bring in health and economic vitality, we will reap higher deficits, international resentment, dead Iraqis, dead U.S. soldiers, and a spiral of violence and escalation in the Middle East.
- CAFE standards will not be raised.
- Nobody will drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Toyota will become the world's biggest automaker and the Prius will remain the best-selling hybrid; GM will continue to sink under legacy healthcare costs and crappy cars. The taxpayer bailout won't come until 2009.
- Zero-energy houses will become the newest status symbol for the ultra-rich.
- Most big businesses, all entertainment ventures, and several dozen college campuses will, as a matter of ongoing policy, make their activities carbon neutral through the purchase of carbon offsets. Consumers will be offered offsets at every travel agency or car rental business; offsets will start popping up in strange venues -- packaged with car insurance, in displays at gas station counters, as a checkout option in PayPal, eBay, and other online vendors, etc.
- Almost single-handedly, Wal-Mart will transform the solar power industry, the organic fiber industry, the organic food industry, the building industry, and the retail industry. OK, maybe not by the end of 2007.
- The release of the IPCC"s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) will prompt lots of people to say lots of very stupid things.
- Laurie David's Stop Global Warming "virtual march" will reach 1 million signatories.
- In Mass. v. EPA, the Supreme Court will rule for Mass. on both counts in a 5-4 split vote. A great while later, the EPA will issue auto tailpipe regulations that will have already been made irrelevant by state-level regs.
- The number of cities involved in the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement will top 450; the number of states involved in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative -- or some extended variant thereof -- will top 12, including California. By the end of 2007, a de facto U.S. global warming policy will have taken shape entirely without federal involvement. That will either be an amazing expression of democracy or an historical failure, depending on your perspective.
- TXU will be stopped.
- Sen. James Inhofe's rants from the Senate Environment Committee will become so disconnected from reality that his constituents will finally get fed up and boot him in 2008, Pombo-style. His media lackey Marc Morano will return to his true calling, selling used cars.
- A great deal of money will be wasted on ethanol.
- No nuclear plants will be built in the U.S.
- The U.S. military will become the largest consumer of clean energy and clean energy technology.
- Somewhere out in the rural hinterlands, the very last surviving climate "skeptic" will finally, mercifully STFU.