Brenda Cooper

Revisiting my 2008 Predictions

Back on January 6th of ‘8, I made a series of global warming predictions.

Here is what I said:

I wanted to start out with my 2008 predictions around climate change. First – an overall observation – we’re holding our breath for the elections to be over. At least in America, and maybe worldwide. That’s the overall statement about the year – a year of holding our breath, of halting progress, of growing hope and idealism….

– There will be more wild weather. That includes extreme cold as well as extreme heat. Climate change is not a gentle process, and we’ll be reminded of that yet again.
– Some key indicators, like sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, will continue to change faster than predicted.
– Climate Change will be an issue in the American presidential election, but not one of the top three even though it should be.
– Signs of fatigue will set in. The green movement has so far resulted in some real and lasting change, but this year won’t see as great a rate of change as last year. Partly that’s because many of us have made the easy changes and the next round is tougher. Partly it’s because the economy is stressed and the new Prius in the driveway is still seen as a luxury.
– Gas prices will stay high, maybe dipping in the fall pre-election, but not far, or for long.
– Alternative energy will keep doing well. More venture capital will keep flowing, and real money will be both made and lost.

And here is my opinion of how well that worked.  Futurists have no crystal ball, but I always hpe to be more than half right.  I think this time I was.

There has been more wild weather.  Every year has wild weather (there was so much snow today the bus couldn’t get to work).  But here are some links:

The year started with deadly tornado outbreaks 

February article about drought in USA Today

Weather.com article on severe weather through May 2008 

California is facing its worst water crisis in history

And that’s just a few of the US articles.  So I was right there (and lots of people said the same thing – it wasn’t a surprise to be right).

As for key indicators changing faster than predicted:

Over to tons of ice has melted in the arctic since ’03 (Thanks to Jay Lake for the link, which also mentions more methane than expected being released.)

A WWF report from October that says climate change is happening faster and sooner than expected.

So all right – got that one right.  Heard it in a talk in 2007 and believed it. 

On the election, climate change was an issue, and not in the top three.  I think I nailed this one.

Next prediction – signs of fatigue.   I don’t have any handy-dandy nice links.  I’ve seen it in some areas, and heard it from some people, but I’m actually please to report that I was partly wrong, too.   I have seen change in how we act continue, if still not fast enough.  I’d be interested in other people’s thoughts on this.

Gas prices stayed high until fall – and rose higher than I thought.  But then they fell, and they are really low today.  So another mixed bag on prediction there, but we needed me to be right.  Gas prices need to rise to drive real change in how Americans view transportation.  The back of my brain thinks maybe the people that need to keep selling gas saw the rate of change in our behavior and forced the price lower.  But I don’t know enough to know how to tell if that’s right, and gas pricing is a complex, global problem with multiple inputs.

Last, I think we have been making gains in alternative energy.  We’ve done it in fits and starts, but this did happen at least partly as predicted.  I need to do a little more research, so I’ll save that for the future – watch for a blog post on the topic after I get some time to dig into it.  From a high level, solar and wind are doing better, lots of energy has gone into green collar jobs and training, and we learned corn is a lousy bio-fuel. 

I’ll get a set of 2009 predictions out in the next few weeks.