Since global warming really only promises to get worse, here are five critical trends to watch over the next decade. None of these are the sole answer to rising global temperatures, but they all will be pieces of the puzzle as we seek to adapt to a changing world.
Small is Beautiful Once Again
Gas has already hit record highs in some parts of the country. With instability in the Middle East and a global economy that may be ready to heat up, expect to pay dearly at the pump this summer and beyond. Look for cars to get smaller and homes to become more energy efficient as people look to save some green even if they don’t really want to be green. A home from Modern Shed will make you forget your McMansion and allow you to sleep easier knowing your heating bill won’t break the bank.
Crowdfunding for the Environment
VCs and private equity will finance the large-scale solar projects, but look for many of the micro eco-innovations to get their initial capital through kickstarter.com or a green focused crowdfunding site, a number of which have recently launched, such as greenunite.com. There has always been an important role for do-good investors in the environmental space, but their resources won’t match the scale of the problems and the number of innovations that will hit the market in the years ahead.
New Battery Technology
If electric cars are ever going to hit the mainstream, they are going to have to get more than 100 miles to a charge. IBM is exploring lithium-air technology (rather than the current lithium-ion batteries that power today’s electric vehicles, cell phones and laptops). Lithium-air batteries take oxygen from the air, which then reacts with the lithium in the battery to produce electricity. We can’t predict with any certainty what the next battery technology will look like, but IBM is hoping lithium-air batteries will give a car a 500-mile range, which will make most of us very happy. Unfortunately, it won’t be around for another decade or so.
Disaster Preparedness Becomes Chic
Is your go bag ready? If you think this is for a weekend trip, then you haven’t been watching the news lately. Events such as Hurricane Irene (and the disaster yet to hit), will make people prepare for the worst. Smart families will have their survival gear at the ready and will be thinking about how to protect their home from the next natural disaster. Bunkers aren’t just for right-wing militia members anymore. Eco Steel has built a hurricane proof home on Cusabo Island, SC. It’s Completely off the grid and 140 mph winds shouldn’t ruin the family dinner. If this is out of your price range, Life Cube makes an inflatable home, if things take a turn for the worse.
Carbon Positive is the New Neutral
Now that almost everyone is going carbon neutral – well, at least it seems that way – how is a green leaning company or organization differentiate themselves? Don’t just do your part (which is kind of the idea of going carbon neutral), go carbon positive and be part of the solution, because we all know that not everyone will do their part. Carbon positive actions take more CO2 out of the atmosphere than they put in. If you were planning on going carbon neutral already, you don’t have to do anything different, you just have to plant more trees than you would have otherwise and perhaps install a few more solar panels. There’s an oversupply of solar panels at the moment, so take advantage of the situation.
What are Your Predictions?
Let the debate begin in the comment section below. Let’s hear what you think the important trends are in the years ahead and what companies will be the pioneers in our rapidly changing world.