Christmas 2006 is here, and it’s time to spin the wheel of fortune and see what the year ahead has in store for sustainability, technology and the environment, globally, but with a focus on Australia, (cause that’s where I’ve been). If you’ve arrived from the problogger group writing project, welcome and have a look around!

When I look at the year that has been and the posts that have been floating around, there’s been some great developments, but equally, it feels that nothing has changed, and we’ve still got so far to go. Here’s my take and tips on what might happen in 2007…

  1. Solar power will reach the masses. Silicon Valley has quietly been undergoing a transformation from being the computer-chip hub of the world into another serious industry that uses silicon wafers – Solar Power. Billions of dollars are being spent creating higher power efficiencies and thinner photo voltaic cells through processes that can increase production significantly. OAll this money and effort will have to translate into consumer spending soon.
  2. Eastern Australia will remain in drought. While the authorities fight over the best way to manage water supply and usage, the country is getting drier. Whole cities are on the verge of being declared un-sustainable up and down the coast. Cities like Sydney and Perth are in the process of considering desalination plants and water reuse and recycling schemes. But ultimately, 2007 won’t bring the rains needed to replenish dams and aquifers for our overpopulated catchments. The farmers might get a break, but the cities will remain dry. More after the jump…
  3. Coal will be a dirty word. People consider nuclear waste to be dirty, but not many people understand of the impacts of coal mining. 2007 will bring renewed efforts from green groups on the coal front, levering social media to gain the attention of the newspapers and the masses. Videos of where the coal is being exported to and the conditions of work and living there will present a tough-to-ignore hearts and minds campaign for the environmentalists.
  4. The tide will turn for PVC. Following the lead of several US states and on medical advice, some local councils will ban the use of PVC in all construction and fitout of buildings. Average people will begin to campaign and petition against the monopoly that PVC has over the plastics production world. Check out the links for some alternative to PVC.
  5. Sustainable Civil Engineering will become a university course. I get asked questions all the time, where can I learn more about Sustainable Civil Engineering, I say, “at urbanworkbench of course!”. But seriously, there is a real lack of teaching sustainable design and materials in universities teaching Civil Engineering, often leaving it up to the Environmental Engineers or Architects. In 2007 we will start to see new engineering courses at the undergraduate level teaching sustainability. There are even some Schools of Sustainability popping up, albeit not in Civil Engineering as such.
  6. Interest in wind power will drop off. Large scale adoption of wind power generation is just too hard for the average consumer. Everyone loves to see the ads with wind turbines spinning, but no one wants to see the newly installed 1.5m diameter one in the backyard (that cost you a couple of thousand dollars), sitting idle. People will look to easier ways to green up, by reducing their power consumption and buying appliances that run more efficiently.
  7. Sustainability will mean local not just global. Everyone is aware of global warming, climate change, peak oil and increasing populations. But not everyone realizes how easy it can be on a local scale to make a difference. Eating locally, walking, biking, car-sharing instead of driving, turning off the air-con, turning down the heat… it all adds up.

I’d love to hear your comments on these issues and thoughts, and if you’ve got a blog, please leave a link to it as well.

Please join me in 2007 to discover what lies in store for our world, particularly as it relates to Engineering and Sustainability! Click this link to subscribe to my feed.

What’s this Group Writing thing?
Group writing projects are a great way to see what the rest of the blogosphere is writing about, Danner over at Problogger encourages, (and rewards) bloggers to post on a particluar theme within their genre. Check out some of the problogger Prediction or Review entries here.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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