Thursday, December 19, 2019

My 2020 Sustainability Predictions

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It is time once again to light the nag champa incense and look into the future to give you my 2020 sustainability predictions. As I noted in this post summarizing my success with last year's predications, I was a pretty good swami of sustainability for my predictions for 2019. Only the future can tell us whether or not my predictions for 2020 are correct.

1. Climate change begins to hit the coastal real estate market. One of the things that has surprised me over the last few years is the lack of serious discussion about coastal retreat and the impacts of climate change on real estate. I suspect that this year will be the year that this changes. I predict that some low-lying communities will begin to take the issue much more seriously.

2. Climate change denial becomes political poison. As more and more people are impacted by climate change worldwide, I predict that climate change denial and inaction will become political poison. As emergency workers are placed at the front line of climate emergencies in floods and fires, it will be difficult to deny the truth any longer.

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3. Elections have consequences. All of the signs point to a switch in parties in the presidency. If that happens, look for a reversal of the reversal of all of the environmental rules that the current administration reversed.

4. Big wins on plastic. More and more organizations are removing plastic from their products. In many restaurants, straws are scarcer than vegan restaurants in Oklahoma. Look to more wins on getting plastic out of our waste stream as more companies look for alternative packaging.

5. Environmental justice becomes a bigger global issue. The Flint, Michigan water crisis brought environmental justice front and center to the public's mind over the last several years. However, look to 2020 for more attention on the topic globally. Indigenous rights in South America and the fate of low lying island states in the Pacific Ocean are just two of the big environmental justice topics that will continue to receive attention.

6. Global businesses take on more sustainability responsibility. The failure of last week's climate talks and the overall lack of serious sustainability policy in many countries is creating a major vacuum in global sustainability leadership. I would never have predicted this a few years ago, but major corporations are now among the leading innovators in a variety of sustainability areas. Look to see global businesses take on a larger share of responsibility on sustainability.

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7. Climate strikes expand. As I wrote in this post, climate strikes have accelerated in the last year or two. The movement is largely a youth-led movement with a great deal of individual action taking place in local communities. I predict that the climate strike movement will expand beyond young people as the evidence of climate change continues to grow. Look to climate strikes to grow within some labor organizations, industries, and non-profit groups. I also predict that senior organizations, like AARP, will find ways to get their members involved.

8. Concerns over population. Back in the 1960's, there were some who thought that the rapidly expanding human population would overtake our ability to feed ourselves. Paul and Anne Ehrlich's book, The Population Bomb, was one of the most famous books that highlighted this concern. Of course, since then, our ability to feed ourselves has not been a problem for the most part. However, as the world has gotten richer as population increased, questions have emerged as to whether we can maintain the needed resources to provide stuff for everyone. Look to more conversations about global resource use and population in the coming year.

9. Nutrient pollution is a greater concern. Non-point nutrient pollution has created seasonal marine dead zones all over the world including some areas of the Gulf of Mexico and Long Island Sound. In addition, coral bleaching is killing coral reefs all over the tropics. Look to greater attention given to nutrient pollution in the coming year.

10. Growing interest in sustainable living. As more and more people recognize the challenges associated with global climate change and other sustainability issues, there will be growing interest in sustainable living. I predict more and more people will embrace a minimalist lifestyle to lessen their impact on the planet. Not everyone will live in tiny homes, but there will be greater interest in smaller house sizes. I predict this decade will be the peak size in American homes as it becomes more fashionable to live within a smaller footprint.

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