You can exhale. The 2000s, a decade full of gloom and peculiar events, has come to a close. In the past 10 years we have experienced economic hardships, a few wars and the golden age of reality television, all the while, nurturing fears ranging from explicit rock lyrics to a flu named after our once beloved pigs. As the new decade begins, there are surely reasons to worry.
However, sometimes knowing what lies ahead helps ease the tension when things actually occur. So, without further ado, here are my not-so-bold predictions for what to expect as we dive into the next 10 years:
1) Water gun fights become more expensive. The millennium began with frenzied Y2K bottled water stocked basements, reached halftime with the flooded streets of New Orleans and ended with the once fertile crop lands cracked and in desperate need of water. As the American West and Southwest continue to dry up, look for water to become an even more precious commodity than ever before. Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who owns more water than any individual in the U.S., thinks so at least. If his recent $100 million “There Will Be Bloodesque” water pipeline stretching more than 250 miles of rolling Texas hills is any indicator of the rising value of water, it may be on its way to becoming the oil of the future.
2) Oil comes back home. If water is the oil of the future, what will happen to the oil of today? It looks like, whether environmentalists like it or not, we will still foster a dependence on oil for the next 10 years. The question is whether America and other countries can wean away from a long dependence on the Middle East. With natural gas being successfully drilled in places as close as Pittsburgh, it seems an attractive alternative to dealing with more conflict abroad. Our dependence will not cease overnight, but anything is a start.
Internationally, Brazil has recently started drilling off its own shores and Israel, choosing a green path, has chosen to separate completely and has plans to implement electric fuel stations nationally; a wise move for a country on not so friendly terms with its neighbors.
3) India and China continue to grow. No need to panic, there’s going to be room for the U.S. in the top circle. But then again, who made that cell phone in your pocket and that plastic Frisbee on the floor and that car parked outside?
4) Carbon dioxide (CO2) takes center stage. Although the recent Copenhagen climate talks couldn’t have picked a worse time of year to discuss global warming, the dead of winter, they did emerge with one positive. The new plan for rich countries to pay the developing world to stop destroying tropical rainforests will have a profound impact on greenhouse gas emissions. According to Newsweek, deforestation accounts for 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined.
Governments looking to make a green impact may start to spend more on protecting and restoring forest than in emerging technologies. According to McKinsey&Co., $1 spent on forest reduction buys as great a CO2 reduction as $6 spent on developing technologies like windmills. This, in addition to upcoming EPA carbon regulations, will likely make CO2 emissions a key performance indicator for companies in the future, like cash flow and customer satisfaction.
5) Iran’s theocracy is tested, even more. Ahmadinejad’s regime will not last forever. The oppression and exile of the country’s brightest minds, combined with radical rhetoric from the government, and a rising generation of discontented Iranian adults will most likely force a restructure of the Iranian government as seen today.
6) Finally, amidst the many lingering issues throughout the next decade, there is one that trumps them all. Unfortunately, it looks like the hoverboards promised to us in Back to the Future II, set in 2015, are not going to happen anytime soon. Marty McFly, why must you tease us?