The following is a tale of how 2006 might go. I hope it's not too “grim.”
January — Heating costs soar, and renewable energy can't deliver enough immediate relief. To generate inexpensive heat, President Bush declares a National Group Hug Day.
February — The Winter Olympics become the most environmentally friendly ever, as visitors use cups, plates and utensils made of ice, which are melted down after they are used.
March — Building designers, searching for green materials for construction, develop the first biodegradable home, made entirely of gingerbread. The house is particularly attractive to German children.
March, Chapter 2 — After Waste Expo is moved to Las Vegas from New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, a power shortage in Vegas forces organizers to move the show again, this time to Dallas.
April — Wal-Mart continues its aggressive environmental programs, focusing on the retail level. Customers who come in with their own fabric bags for purchases get a hug from the Wal-Mart greeter.
April, Chapter 2 — Dust storms in Dallas force Waste Expo to find a new location.
May — Politicians claim that neighborhoods in New Orleans devastated by Katrina are now safe for redevelopment. To prove their point, they propose building a house out of straw and a house out of sticks.
June — President Bush, in an attempt to make the public feel better about the war effort in Iraq, orders the replacement of U.S. jeeps in the region with hybrid Priuses.
June, Chapter 2 — Waste Expo's latest choice for a venue, Chicago, falls through when the unions can't find enough workers permitted by contract to screw in light bulbs.
July — Computer makers, fearing a hodgepodge of varying state legislation on electronic waste, push harder for a uniform national law. If that doesn't happen, they threaten to let computer geeks write the instruction manuals with no supervision.
August — Officials look at building “hurricane friendly” wind turbines along the Gulf Coast to harness frequent storm activity into useful energy. The proposal has the turbines built of bricks, learning from the New Orleans projects of May.
August, Chapter 2 — Bucyrus, Ohio, rejects an offer to host Waste Expo because it's too close to the Bratwurst Festival.
September — Wastecon agrees to a one-time joint meeting with Waste Expo, since the latter group is running out of locations. Attendance is down, though, as many spend their travel budget on the Bratwurst Festival instead.
October — A claim is made of an amazing method developed to recycle straw into gold. Critics are skeptical, but the inventor, Rumpelstiltskin, stands by his creation.
November — President Bush tries to rally support for the midterm elections by promising “a chicken in every pot, and a hybrid car in every garage.”
December — An unidentified terrorist (believed to be an evil stepmother) gathers together all the natural resources of the world. People across the land moan, “What are we to do?” One little man says, “Let's find new ways to use the resources we have.” And the people do, and it works splendidly. The terrorist stepmother is so angered by this that she kicks her huge pile of natural resources, causing them to fall on her and kill her. The people get their natural resources back, and they've learned a valuable lesson.
Then comes January ...
Allan “Grimm” Gerlat is editor of Waste News, an Akron, Ohio-based brother publication to Plastics News.