December 30, 2010

The Year in Review: What Happened to Our 2010 Wish List?

In January, we released our 2010 Wish List of the natural security-related policies that we most hoped to see. As the year draws to a close, let’s see if we got what we’d wished for.

  1. Successful follow-up from the MEAT (i.e., fewer troops lost to attacks on fuel convoys than in previous years).

    This is obviously difficult to calculate, though I would assume that sometime next year we’ll see some figures from the 2010-established Director of Operational Energy’s office or from the services. Meanwhile, some energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies did deploy after testing at Quantico and Twentynine Palms. Congrats to the Marines on these efforts, and to all of the services for their energy efforts in 2010.

  2. A more prosperous America – the foundation of security.

    I’d vote that this wish came true, though we still have a long way to go. I personally have fewer unemployed or underemployed people in my close network than I did at this time last year, and stats for the last quarter of 2010 seem to indicate that the country is a little better off than last year. Here’s hoping that progress on U.S. economic power continues.
  3. Greater overall attention to nuclear energy, but less attention that discusses energy while ignoring proliferation concerns.

    We got another one! Attention to Iran’s nuclear recalcitrance, countries like Vietnam and Jordan embracing nuclear energy, the New START debate, and other factors all brought these two silos closer together through 2010. Next step: more integration in academic study as well.
  4. Reduction in U.S. greenhouse gases from 2009, by whatever means.

    Hard figures for 2010 are TBD, but we’re going to be optimistic. It is likely that a combination of economic conditions and deployment of renewable and efficiency technologies helped lower our emissions this year.
  5. Deeper work on the relationships among land use, climate change and security.

    We saw more of this type of work in 2010, but much has yet to be done. The Wilson Center’s Asia program released a great report earlier this year specifically assessing the tensions between private investments, farmland and food security: Land Grab? The Race for the World’s Farmland. (See our review on the blog here.)
  6. What Geoff said.

    In response to a question by Nicholas Kristof, Geoff Dabelko of the Wilson Center provided a wishlist for 2010 that centered on questions of how “scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and communities better research and analyze” the interconnections among resource issues, development issues, and development components such as microfinance. He also hoped that we’d all turn more focus to solutions and away from problem definition. Unfortunately, we don’t think the nation has made a ton of progress on the concepts Geoff identified. His entire post is worth re-reading, especially in light of the debates on Central and South Asia that we’ll be having in early 2011.
  7. Greater visibility on minerals supply chains.

    Greater visibility might not be the right term, but the U.S. government did pay greater attention to minerals in 2010 – a first step in promoting greater visibility and information sharing with the private sector. DOD briefed Congress on its rare earths report this fall (I’ve not seen the full report, but from what the media reported I have doubts that I’ll agree with its findings). Trumping that, David Sandalow held a public release event a few weeks ago at CSIS for DOE’s 171-page report on critical materials for clean energy – and promised that DOE’s work would continue in 2011.
  8. More feedback from Natural Security Blog readers! Your feedback is invaluable: please keep commenting on the blog below, or hit us on Facebook or Christine/Will on Twitter.

    Yes, we’ve gotten more followers on Twitter, more comments on the blog, and more feedback from you this year over 2009. We’ll work to be even more engaging in 2011!