Friday, January 02, 2009

Looking back at 2008 and forward to 2009...

A Happy New Year to all! 

There were only two big stories last year and they've both had big Green implications:

First, the economy (stupid...). The global financial system turned out to be a huge house of cards: complex financial 'products' were outed as hot air, bad debts turned out to be worth less than the paper they were written on and the whole thing was so poorly regulated that a man with the wonderfully appropriate name of Madoff snaffled $50bn without anybody noticing. Some put all this down to greed, but I put it down to stupidity.

From a green point of view, the economic collapse may give the planet some slack as people stop buying so much, become more conscious of their energy bills and cancel that third holiday. But the resulting pessimism and despair doesn't square with my desire to see people 'thrive' in an eco-friendly way. Hopefully we can rebuild the economy in a greener and more socially responsible manner rather than running like lemmings towards a cliff. The biggest obstacle in the short term is the precipitous drop in oil prices which is undermining the cleantech/ renewables markets.

And the second big story was of course the election of Barack Obama. The skin colour thing is beside the point to me. When Ruud Gullit became the first black Premiership football manager, nobody commented on this fact because he was Ruud Gullit, one of the greatest players ever (pity the skills weren't transferable to management). Same with Obama - to me he was not 'the black guy', but the guy who had the vision and the oratory to sell a beautiful, green, fairer future for the US and the rest of the world. This is some achievement when the superpower's political system has been swirling in a cynical, anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-culture, small minded, lowest common denominator cesspit for the best part of a decade. Hope is cool again.

And the signs look good for the green industries. Obama has appointed a number of climate scientists to key positions in his new administration and has made some very clear and precise commitments on what he intends to do when in power. Let's just hope that he remains steadfast when the rubber hits the road (or doesn't as the case may be) later this year.

So 2009 is a hard one to predict - the economic situation and Obama's leadership give a huge opportunity, but it will be hard for any decision maker to go for the long term benefit over the short term gain. But of course we can all do our bit, not least when it comes to supporting those decision makers. Let's make it a green one!

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