Assessing my predictions from last year
At the end of last year, I made 20 predictions for 2007. As a pundit in good standing I am, of course, unaccountable for my predictions. (How do you think we all stay employed?) Nonetheless, it’s worth looking back and seeing how the predictions panned out, drawing sweeping conclusions from the things I got right while minimizing and excusing the things I got wrong.
Let’s see how I did!
Al Gore will a) win an Oscar, 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.
Nailed it, top to bottom. Off to a good start!
No developed country will consume less oil or emit less CO2 in 2007 than it did in 2006.
Oy, why’d I have to put this one in there? It’s difficult to answer, and quite frankly requires more research than I’m willing to put in at this point. I suspect it’s wrong. Aren’t some of those Scandinavian countries using less oil these days? I’ll pass this one off to my smart audience.
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.
This is somewhat subjective, but I think I got it basically right. Tom?
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.
The 2007-2008 expenditures for the Iraq War are around $200 billion — not counting opportunity costs, social costs, and externalized economic costs, all of which probably double or triple that number. Could we cut fossil fuel demand in the U.S. by 25% with $200 billion? Um … no. That was a dumb thing to say.
CAFE standards will not be raised.
D’oh! He swings, he misses. (Though I guess the energy bill could still get derailed for some reason or another. I’ll cross my fingers!)
Nobody will drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Yup. Seems like we don’t even talk about that much any more, do we?
Toyota will become the world’s biggest automaker and the Prius will remain the best-selling hybrid; GM will continue to sink under legacy health-care costs and crappy cars. The taxpayer bailout won’t come until 2009.
Toyota did in fact become the biggest; the Prius is in fact the best-selling hybrid; GM is in fact still sinking; the tax bailout, well … we’ll see.
Zero-energy houses will become the newest status symbol for the ultra-rich.
Not quite right — zero-energy houses are still a ways off. But "green" Mcmansions? Oh yes.
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.
Didn’t pan out with the particulars I cited (nothing yet from PayPal or eBay), but in a broader sense, I think this holds up.
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.
Yes, that was a wise proviso at the end there. Wal-Mart’s first "green report" showed a mixed picture, but I maintain that the trajectory the company is on will have seismic effects on a number of green markets.
The release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) will prompt lots of people to say lots of very stupid things.
Yeah, that was a gimme.
Laurie David’s Stop Global Warming "virtual march" will reach 1 million signatories.
Nope, at least not yet. At press time, the number is 952,213.
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.
Well, I got the outcome of the court case right, but a great while later, the EPA continues to stall. Lesson: never underestimate the intransigence of the Bush administration.
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.
Well, I considerably underestimated the mayors agreement — as of Nov. 1, there were over 710 cities signed on. And I also underestimated the number of states that would fall under regional climate trading agreements. There are now agreements in the Northeast (10 states), the Midwest (9 states), and the West (6 states). That’s 25 states — half the nation — with many more states pledged to sign on soon or signed on as "observers." Nobody’s done the precise calculations yet, but with the mayors agreement and the regional agreements combined, that’s well over half the population and well over half the U.S. economy covered by some sort of climate policy.
TXU will be stopped.
Yup. Although some groups are ticked off that three of the 11 proposed coal plants are still set to be built.
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.
An odd inclusion in a list of predictions about 2007. Have the rants become fully wackadoo? Yes. Will Inhofe lose to challenger Andrew Rice (interview coming shortly)? Hard to say.
A great deal of money will be wasted on ethanol.
Another gimme. And there’s so, so much more to come.
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.
I’m not sure exactly how one would measure that, but the U.S. military has unquestionably become a huge player in the clean energy game.
Somewhere out in the rural hinterlands, the very last surviving climate "skeptic" will finally, mercifully STFU.
This one turned out to be wildly optimistic. Indeed, the skeptic crowd is still grasping onto every possible thread, no matter how absurd it makes them look. The real danger, though, is not the old-fashioned denier skeptics but Skeptic 2.0: "Fighting global warming will do more harm than just letting it happen." We’ll be seeing a lot more of that type, and the damage the do will be, if anything, far greater than that done by Skeptic 1.0.
Grist will kick ass.
Yes, that was quite prescient.
I think overall I’d give myself a B — got several things right, a few things wrongish.
How about y’all? Did your expectations for 2007 pan out? What happened that you thought wouldn’t? What didn’t happen that you thought would? Grade yourselves in comments.
And stay tuned for predictions for 2008.