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2009 in review: how far have we come?

Everyone seems to be writing “Year in Review” posts right now.  We considered that too, but since everyone else is doing it, why would we?

We settled on a different idea.  We looked back on 2008 year in reviews to compare between then and now.  We asked: How far have we come? Are we where we hoped to be? Is our slope of innovation steep enough?  There are so many more questions to ask but these were enough to get started.

  1. T. Boone Pickens was getting some press.  His plan is still out there: to use our domestic wind resources to power the country.  Although this hasn’t happened yet, it is catching on as a realistic idea.  But coming from a man who made his billions from the oil industry – can’t we rely on anyone else?
  2. Big money was getting pumped into solar.  From unconventional solar installations to micro-solar applications on your roof, we saw big investments in solar.  This hasn’t come to fruition yet either, but solar is steadily growing in terms of infrastructure and capacity.  As we invest more and more in this renewable energy source, we predict the U.S. will reach the solar tipping point in 2010.
  3. President Obama had just picked a green technology expert to lead us into the next decade.  Steven Chu, an alternative energy and green tech guru was picked to lead the U.S. into the future of renewable energy policy.  We have yet to see sweeping changes in this area.  To be fair, the Administration has been focused on healthcare and the horrific mess in the Middle East.
  4. Flexible computer displays promised to put energy-efficient computers in every hand.  The race for the $100 laptop was similar to the race for the smallest, most mobile and flexible computers.  Flexible displays promised to put more mobile devices in people’s hands – thus limiting the reliance on big, energy-sucking desktop computers.  This also hasn’t happened yet, but would be great to see in the near future.  Our prediction: the price is (and will remain) too high for the average consumer for some time.
  5. Cloud Computing was going to take the CPU out of your computer.  The idea of cloud computing is amazingly simple. It would decentralize your files, your computing power, etc. and only place minimal components in your hands.  This would lighten the energy load of your computer and allow you to access files and computing power from virtually anywhere.  This has not come to reality just yet.  Some companies are still pushing the idea, including Google.  Maybe in 2010?
  6. President Obama was poised to change the U.S.’s position in the world of climate change. We were set to become the leader in progressive energy policy. From Ecollo.com we saw this prediction for 2009 “Speaking of the U.S. government, President-elect Barack Obama could turn the country into climate change leaders by the end of the year, says the Globe and Mail. The columnist for the paper also predicts that the price of oil is now reasonable enough to implement a cap-and-trade and that climate change will be the – for lack of a better word – hot topic of 2009.”  This has not happened and Copenhagen was a giant disappointment.
  7. The Huffington Post predicted the United States Government could make bottled water a thing of the pastAgain, the Government has failed us.
  8. JetsonGreen.com predicted the non-green would perish.  This is partly true.  We have certainly seen an increase in the number of green products available.  Although some of these are greenwashing, there are many companies innovating and inventing like crazy to keep up with consumer demand for environmentally friendly products.  The economic down-turn helped with this, but we would love to see the next evolution of this movement be to de-consumerization (I think we just made that word up).  Rather than buying more eco-friendly products, should we just buy less products?

So we ask, have we made the progress we hoped to make?  Have we grown in environmental courage like we planned?  We have made tons of progress and many eco innovations.  However, we put entirely too much faith in our world leaders to make the changes the majority of us are asking for.

What we hope to learn from the minimal progress made in 2009 is that real change begins at the bottom.  Originating with the people, lasting and effective change happens when citizens collect themselves to identify a need and offer a solution.

Sources:

  • http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/12/the-top-10-gree/
  • http://www.ecostreet.com/blog/eco-technology/2008/01/16/2008s-most-desirable-eco-gadgets
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-feldman/frameshop-10-phrases-that_b_154276.html
  • http://www.ecollo.com/post/2009/01/Green-predictions-for-2009.aspx
  • http://www.jetsongreen.com/2009/01/seven-green-tre.html

Image Credit: JetsonGreen

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