Although, I have written over 1,000 posts in this past year, on many topics, the "flavor" of the year that stands out in my eyes is the brutal way in which "the right thing" has been discarded in favor of "the expedient thing."
On climate change (and other areas concerning the environment), we have seen many attempts at improvement struck down through the efforts of those who favor, and benefit from, the status quo -- mining our resources, living above our income, borrowing from the future to consume today. Even worse, that status quo behavior has averse environmental impacts.
On water issues (in California, but also in many other places), we have seen the same "win" for inertia -- and the same destruction of our environment and future for current consumption.
In both cases, and much to my disgust, we see many reasons for change, but no change has happened. Even worse, the costs of change -- even under the worst case scenarios -- are trivial in comparison to the benefits. What's more, those few who have avoided costs would have incurred trivial losses in their amassed wealth; those many who would have benefited would have gained much more, as individuals and in total, with respect to their current -- and future wealth. Alas, they are just as poor now and will be poorer in the future.
Bottom Line: 2009 was a terrible disappointment for those hoping that environmental policies would improve our world.