Gallery: Green Design Predictions for 2013

Todd J. Sanford, Ph.D. Climate Scientist, Climate & Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

The spate of extreme weather that the US and other parts of the world faced in 2012 brought the global climate change issue to people’s backyards. I feel that 2013 will move the discussion from not only increased awareness of the issue, but to greater investment and ownership in solutions at the individual and community scales. 2012 (and many years previous to that) have also highlighted that climate is not an issue for tomorrow, but one for today. The challenges have moved beyond simply finding solutions to mitigate the problem, but now how to adapt to impacts already being felt and those already locked in over the coming years.

I’m looking for 2013 to provide an increase in creative, innovative solutions originating at local scales to inform the broader conversation. Two major climate reports are due to be released in 2013. The next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment report will be released starting this fall, which undoubtedly will confirm our increased understanding of and confidence in what is driving climate change and likely impacts. Perhaps more importantly for those of us in the United States, the US National Climate Assessment (NCA) will release its latest report this year. The NCA process directly engages stakeholders and decision-makers and attempts to provide climate information that can be utilized across sectors and regions to make informed decisions not only on mitigation options, but also on adaptation solutions and how to minimize climate risk. To that end, Union of Concerned Scientists has begun working to connect the public, policymakers, and scientists at local levels to local and regional climate impacts and solutions. We have efforts underway around sea-level rise in Florida and wildfire risk in the Rockies.

Climate solutions is no longer a conversation to be had only by international diplomats or in the halls of Congress and Parliament houses around the world. Now it is one in which virtually everyone has a stake in. I think 2013 will broaden the suite of solutions by including a much larger group in the discussion. Not only does that prospect hold exciting possibilities, but it is of critical importance at this point.

Bill McKibben Environmentalist, Green Journalist, President and Co-Founder of

I think there’s actually a chance 2013 will be a significant year in climate history — the year when the planet’s leaders actually ran out of excuses for their inaction. We’re seeing record temperatures, record melting, record storms, record everything: it’s clearly not the same world we thought it was even a few years ago. But we’re also finally seeing record dissent. In the U.S. for instance, students on more than 190 campuses are fighting to demand the divestment of stocks in fossil fuel companies. They’ve peeled back the layers of the onion — they’re not demanding new lightbulbs, they’re demanding systemic changes in the balance of power, trying to weaken the forces of the radical status quo, the ones systematically altering the chemistry of the atmosphere.

It’s a hard fight, of course, because those forces are led by the richest industry on earth — the oil, coal, and gas tycoons. So I don’t predict the outcome. Only that the choice for the powerful is going to get harder almost by the week, if we keep building the movements we need to build. We’re not as powerful as Exxon yet, but we’re closer than we used to be, which is the only good news I can think of.

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  1. triffids January 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I enjoyed the predictions but there is a huge component missing. There seem to be no predictions that include addressing the biggest green thing – the existing plants and biodiversity and design that includes enhancing or protecting this biodiversity. The closest to even mentioning the word plant is the prediction by Ferry and Monoian concerning pre-industrial (low energy) ideas. Perhaps 2013 will not see the recognition that all life needs plants and that is why this basic green sustainability component is not listed.

  2. report from the heartland January 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Someone has to start evaluating everything by embodied energy and the impact on wildlife, plant and animal. A \”recycled\” material here, a bike there: nice, but unless we are made to pay the true cost of the way we live bye-bye birdies… and us.

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