Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking back at my predictions for 2015

I'll emerge from my blogging hiatus to revisit last year's predictions to see if I can improve on my 2 out of 9 from last year.  In terms of the big picture, my over-arching prediction from the beginning of 2014 has remained accurate.  We mostly muddled along with the status quo and we neither made progress on solving our problems nor did we bring our civilization finally crashing down upon our collective heads.

But I did go out on a limb with 9 predictions for 2015 - Let's see how I fared.  I predicted that:
  • It will be one of the three hottest years ever recorded globally.
1 for 1.  Global temperatures began a leap upwards this year, and 2015 will go down as the hottest on record.
  • Obama attempts to put ending mass incarceration onto the public agenda.  In particular, the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.  The possibility of blanket pardons cause the Republicans to go ballistic and half of the Democratic party runs for cover.
1.5 for 2. Half credit.  Obama actually did make the effort, but a distracted media and a dysfunctional Congress ensured that it never took center stage.  Instead, Black Lives Matter emerged as a powerful civil rights movement protesting the slaughter of African Americans by police.
  • Ebola flares up in Asia.  These several thousand deaths rattle the global economy much more than the African outbreak did.
1.5 for 3. No credit.  Ebola slowly burned itself out in West Africa and fortunately gained no foothold elsewhere.
  • Americans are shocked when police officers in a major metropolitan area are found to have intentionally singled out and assassinated several critics of police brutality.
1.5 for 4. No credit. The atrocities perpetrated by bad cops continue to mount, but this one doesn't seem to be in the tally.
  • Globally, disgust with their political elites continues to bolster support for radical, anti-establishment parties, and in more than one European country they win power, if not for long.
2 for 5. Half credit. Syriza in Greece and the recent up-ending of the status quo by Podemos and Ciudadanos in Spain fall into the spirit of this prediction, but for the most part Europeans didn't rise up to throw the bums out.  
  • Occupy re-emerges as a political force among the younger generation - organized around its "debt jubilee" and other efforts to disentangle young people from participation in an economic and political system that is rigged against them.  The Establishment derides them as naive and disengaged.
2 for 6. No credit. The mantle of youthful discontent and economic critique was picked up by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren instead.  
  • (Carried over from last year) One of the world's great monoculture crops will mostly fail this year.  Although this will be blamed on a new pest or blight, the failure will actually be due to a combination of narrow genetics, unstable climate and the decline in agricultural research.
2 for 7. No credit. Agriculture plugged along despite its unsustainable and fragile state.
  • Kitchen gardens, backyard chickens and other small animal husbandry continue to increase dramatically in popularity and practice in the US.  Grassroots pressure to change zoning and regulatory restrictions continue to find success.
2 for 7. No idea.  I haven't researched it.  Certainly the media isn't talking about it.
  • Oil stays below $70 per barrel.  Low gas and oil prices drive several mid-sized energy companies in the US to loan defaults and bankruptcy.  The government organizes a multi-billion dollar bailout of loan guarantees and subsidies to keep drilling operations going, and to keep dreams of Saudi America alive.
2.5 for 8.  Half credit.  Oil did indeed stay below $70 (and is currently under $40 a barrel), and energy companies have been bankrupting themselves, but it hasn't gotten to a crisis stage yet, nor has the government had to intervene.

So, compliments of some slightly generous grading I give myself a 31% accuracy rate, which is a significant improvement over last year's 22%.  We'll see if I can improve on that for 2016.