Each December, various news organizations around the world come up with predictions for the coming year. To join in, I got out the crystal ball in my offices at Hofstra University, went into a deep Thoreau-inspired trance, and let the spirits of the land and sea tell me what is in store for the environment in 2015. Here are my top predictions for news on sustainability and the environment for the coming year.
- The Keystone Pipeline will be rebranded with a different name. The spirits tell me that the new name of the pipeline will be the Canadian Friendship Trail. Along with a pipeline, the route will include bike and walking trails.
The United States, already the world's leading producer of wind energy, will use all of the hot air generated in Washington D.C. to double the nation's output. President Obama names several new wilderness areas including the Detroit National Forest. Vegans worldwide panic when it is found that certain brands of tofu are made of soybean flavored whipped lard. In a related prediction, a new GMO crop will be announced--the Chicken Corn. This plant will grow chicken wings instead of kernels. It will be paired with a cow that produces ranch dressing instead of milk. Hipsters will realize that they were late to the small house movement. They will come to find out that people all over the world were living in small homes before they discovered them. The spirits showed me images of hipsters drowning their sorrows in artisanal bourbon. In light of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's recent ban on fracking in his state, other states will follow suit. In protest, Pennsylvania will change its name to Fracksylvania and West Virginia will be renamed Coal and Such. Big agricultural organizations successfully lobby congress to change the "organic" designation to mean "grown on a farm". This significantly increases the number of people with access to organic food. Denmark will lay claim to the giant plastic island in the Pacific Ocean, thereby turning it into the world's first floating colony. Cartographers become flustered as to how to represent this new territory on printed maps. Google shrugs and secretly plants a GPS in all plastic bags. More cities will ban cars from dense urban centers. To counter, some low-density exurban areas will follow suit and ban pedestrians and bikes. Wolves will continue to expand throughout North America. Sales of red hoodies boom. The American Alligator, once driven to near extinction and now found anywhere near water in warm and wet areas of the U.S., will become the new hot food item sought by locavores in the south. Due to the growing popularity of electric cars, gas stations will start to close and will be remembered by this generation as the previous one remembers video stores. Taking their place will be charging stations for cellphones, laptops, tablets, and cars with coffee and snacks. In other words, Starbucks. Evidence for global climate change continues to mount when a piece of the Greenland Ice Sheet breaks off and tries to knock some sense into climate change denialists. After the success of the big People's Climate March in New York City in 2014, organizers seek to soften the stance with a low-impact event called the People's Climate Stroll. You do this on your own while listening to Bill McKibben's classic, The End of Nature. A new IPCC report comes out called, We're Screwed, Why Didn't You Listen to Us? Johnny Rotten and other punk rock stars make a We are the World type video for honeybees called We Eat Your Spit to support the protection of bees from harmful agricultural chemicals. Urban farming takes off in the suburbs to the point that farmers' markets in these areas become farmers' malls. Top shops include Blooming Dale's Produce, The Cheese Curd Factory, Victoria's Secret Microgreens, and Jack's Fifth Avenue SCA. In 2015 a new kind of sustainabilly will emerge: The Angry Sustainabilly. While canning, buying local, and living in walkable communities might have seemed enough 5 years ago, this new breed of sustainabillies is taking it to the street.The green building community develops a new category called "Diamond". This category is for those buildings that are built to green standards but have very high energy use per occupant.
Thank you for reading my columns this year on the Huffingtonpost. It has been a pleasure trying to find some humor in the work that we do to try to make the world a better place for future generations. I look forward to a greener, and funnier, 2015. Here on Long Island, we are trying our best at Hofstra University to do good things. I know that you, wherever you are, are doing the same. May your 2015 be filled with happiness, health, friendship, and humor. To read me regularly, please check out my blog here.