Outlook 2013: Looking backward, forward and inward

Having the widest bridge in the world will become an embarrassment rather than a point of pride

This being the first issue of a new year, I will toss out a few trends and resolutions for 2013, ever mindful that I just could be wrong – at least about the trends.

This will be the year for tea. I've been saying this for over a decade, but Starbucks has finally caught up to me with its purchase of tea store operator Teavana for two-thirds of a billion dollars.

Diesel emissions, cotton products, meat-eating and "jumping on a plane" will become more widely recognized as dangers to our climate, our health and our planet's health. (As I pointed out when I vainly predicted this trend a year ago, a vegetarian driving a Hummer has a lower ecological footprint than a meat-eating cyclist.) Radon leaking into basements, which causes more deaths than drunk drivers, will continue to receive no attention.

2013 will be the breakout year for other industries besides insurance and agriculture to cry havoc over the damage climate change is causing to their businesses. Too many people, egged on by those whose income depends on a fossil fuel future, will continue to say, "Even if it is true, I refuse to believe it."

2013 will be the breakout year for ending marijuana prohibition in Canada as well as in the U.S. (Isn't that where our prime minister takes his guidance?) Marijuana prohibition is going down, not because the world is more pro-marijuana but because of public safety and economics. Mainstream politicians who support prohibition will be implicated in promoting organized crime and endorsing huge, unproductive law enforcement costs.

Having the widest bridge in the world will become an embarrassment rather than a point of pride. Going ahead with yet another new billion-dollar-plus bridge just downstream of the Port Mann while car traffic is decreasing and buses are being cut back will be seen as a daft waste of money.

Here are some trends I'd like to see but probably won't – just yet:

•Known, measurable health costs will be weighed into every major public spending decision, from waste treatment to new highways.

•The passion for costly, wildcard cancer-cure fundraisers will be shifted to promoting cheap effective proven cancer prevention measures. Ditto for heart disease.

•Reducing income inequality will become a provincial and federal priority, given that developed countries with the lowest inequality also have the highest life expectancy, highest literacy levels, the most social mobility and the lowest rates of mental illness, imprisonment and violence.

•Radical transparency will rip the lid off greenwashing of all kinds.

•Someone will get to the bottom of why our economic future depends on bringing in temporary foreign workers when we still have high rates of unemployment for local residents and landed immigrants.

•The City of Vancouver will decide what to do with the False Creek Flats.

And, finally, a few resolutions:

•I will know the name of one person who grew one thing I eat every day. (It's not cheating to be eating frozen fruits and berries from my garden!)

•I will break my addiction to email, starting by shutting off the "ping" that goes off whenever a new email comes in.

•I will listen more closely to those with different views, the way I would want them to listen to me.

•I will keep struggling with the central question of our time: in our quest for economic survival, what's the pragmatic case for sacrificing jobs in Canada to make a marginal improvement in worldwide GHG emission reductions while so many others are unabashedly getting rich emitting whatever they want?

•I will heed the advice "The best gift to your children is a reduced carbon footprint."

I will breathe more deeply more often. I will embrace the wonder of this mysterious world. •

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