Everyone it seems feels as if they have a little bit of the psychic in them. The art of predicting the future is something that when someone gets it right everyone is amazed but when most turn out to be false no one is surprised. In fact, there is a little game of statistics that you can play in creating your own predictions whereby you can amaze and astonish your friends and loved ones.
Its basic 50/50 rules – take any specific event that you can think of and chances are 50/50 that it either will or won’t happen. Take the following three predictions for 2011 as an example:
- There will be a major earthquake of magnitude 7 in a heavily populated area;
- A royal couple will experience a relationship break-up; and
- Terrorists will attempt a bombing of a high profile government office
Now notice a few things about each of these. First is that they all have a reasonable chance of coming true based on past patterns of behaviour and seismic shifts in the earth’s crust.
Every year several magnitude 7 earthquakes occur worldwide although most are distant enough from populated areas that we never hear about them. What makes this prediction interesting is that the prediction doesn’t claim that the center of the earthquake will be in a populated area – just that its effects will be felt in a populated area. For the second one, a “royal couple” could refer to just about anything from Prince Charles and Camilla to Angelina and Brad Pitt. Depends on how you want to interpret the idea of what is royal or not. The last one is almost a given and considering that the prediction is not location specific, this could be anything from an attack on a US building in Washington to tensions over India-Pakistan relations – or more likely North and South Korean if things keep going the way they are currently.
The trick is to pick items that have a 50/50 chance of coming true and then reworking the language such that the interpretation of events after the fact can pretty much guarantee a truthful outcome.
The other sad thing about predictions is that they almost always involve tragic events rather than events which bolster the human spirit. It seems we are almost always willing to believe the worst in people and events while the best of what makes the human spirit indomitable are left in the back-waters of page 12 of your local newspaper (Newspapers? Really? That is soooo 1980s).
So let’s have a little fun. I’m going to provide 12 predictions of events in 2011 and at this time next year we’ll see how many of them actually came true. No gimmicks. There will be enough detail that these will be clearly either true or false and not subject to interpretation after (or at least hopefully not)
Honey bees are an important part of the agricultural food chain being responsible for pollination of plants which we use as a food source. Insecticides have been known for some time to be the major killer of honey bees however most major US agricultural producers still refuse to use untreated seed as part of their processes. So with this in mind I have two predictions for 2011:
Prediction 1. There will be at least one major crop failure this year as a direct result of declining honey bee populations in the mid-western US (CO, KS, NE, WY, and/or western pan-handle OK). This will be in a staple crop such as soybeans or corn which is a ‘feeder’ crop for other food products (such as margarine). At least one post-production company will close as a result.
Prediction 2. The impact will be significant enough that President Obama will challenge Congress to enact legislation to clean-up the agricultural industry and restore balance to the food system “for the children”.
The BP Oil Spill was the largest spillage of oil into the environment through man-mad causes. It is estimated that some 206 M gallons of oil was eventually leaked into the environment before the well was finally capped. In addition, it is further estimated that between 25-40% of that oil evaporated at the surface with the balance still remaining in a dissolved state in Gulf waters. So with this in mind I have three predictions for 2011:
Prediction 3. Respiratory infection rates will be seen to go up in 2011, most specifically in the first quarter of 2011 and most notably in the southern US (LA, TX, OK, MS).
Prediction 4. The first set of agricultural reports will come out indicating the impact of the oil spill on inland farmland and wetlands (mid-late summer). As people start to queue for their share of BP Oil revenues in 2011, there will be new media attention focused on exactly how broad-reaching should damages be in the settlement of claims.
Prediction 5. Despite the problems with BP, the oil industry will push for restrictions on oil drilling put in place in 2010 to be lifted “in the national interest”. Congress will back down and by the end of 2011 we will be back to the “status quo” with new safety measures to be introduced “as technology becomes available”.
The Fax Tax is a levy placed on foods which are generally unhealthy and the leading causes of obesity. In 2010, New York conducted an opinion poll which showed 76% of residents would favour a tax on soft drinks. So with this in mind I have two predictions for 2011:
Prediction 6. New York will follow through based on the opinions expressed in the poll and be the first state in the US to introduce a limited “fat tax” on soft drinks, candies, and other sugar ladened confectionaries. The tax will be a visible tax placed on the end-consumer.
Prediction 7. At least one G-20 Nation will implement a derivation of the fat tax, not through taxation of the end consumer but through either taxation of the manufacturers directly or via tax incentives to produce healthier snack food choices. I am leaning towards either Canada or Australia on this one although in all fairness Japan is currently the most progressive G-20 country in this regard. Still I feel it will be one of the members other than Japan or the US that will implement this.
WikiLeaks has got to be the ultimate source of late for truth in government. Cables and other communiqués which show in brutal honesty what goes on behind closed doors are not simply a part of the process of government, they are also representative of the global state of mind which has driven much of the world towards conflict. They represent an unparalleled political science opportunity to really see the inner workings and stratagems used to successfully resolve most disputes between nations without resorting to military means. While this may prove embarrassing for some, I believe the overall release of these documents will ultimately prove to be beneficial. Notwithstanding, there are definite moves afoot to try to shut down sites like this and to silence those who would provide such information. With this in mind I have two predictions for 2011:
Prediction 8. WikiLeak’s public representative / founder, Julian Assange, will be cleared of charges of sexual misconduct. However not until after a very protracted and public evisceration of the UK justice system of being pawns to the US political machine once details of trumped-up charges are confirmed to be fabricated — er — um — I mean a case of a well meaning justice sytem providing due diligence to a safe and civil society – ya ya – that’s it.
Prediction 9. Public support for WikiLeaks will continue to grow throughout the year as more documents are released into the public domain. A general phenomena will spawn up around WikiLeaks as a new form of entertainment (similar to how people like to slow down to see a car wreck) including iPhone apps which may poke fun at both WikiLeaks and the subjects of the leaks such as “Where’s Assange”, “Russian Rouleak”, and “PayPal Shuffle”
Canadian Politics: Only one real prediction for this year
Prediction 10. Canada goes back to the polls for a late spring/early summer federal election resulting in another Conservative minority government. Harper will step down as Prime Minister shortly thereafter opening the way for changes to both Liberal and Conservative leadership. Jack Layton will continue to show well in the House however the New Democrats will not gain significantly despite declines in the number of seats held by the Bloc Québécois by almost half its present size.
Natural earth changes are consistent from year to year. I would hesitate to call them natural disasters as it is our unpreparedness for random events which is the disaster, not the events themselves. Over the last several years we have seen a few things which are likely to continue over the coming year. Sun spot activity for example is predicted to occur earlier and be more intense over the next two years than it has since about 1958. Certainly we have seen in the last while what appears to be co-relationships between magnetic activity in the sun, weather, and geographic patterns on earth. So with that in mind I have one prediction for 2011:
Prediction 11. 2011 will be a very active hurricane and earthquake season this year owing to the combination of factors but mostly in relationship to the increase magnetic influences of the sun combined with warmer water temperatures. I don’t feel we will get another Katrina in 2011 however the severity of those hurricanes we do get will be generally stronger than the average. Similarly we should see an increase in earthquake activity this year which, by definition, means there is more likelihood of strikes in populated areas. 2012 doomsayers are going to have a field day with this year and being able to say the worst is yet to come.
Financial Markets have been trending upwards again since hitting a low in March of 2009. Review of the DOW since that time shows a progressive curve which again is unsustainable.
Prediction 12. The DOW will peak at 13,000 in October 2011 followed by a quick decline to the 12,000-12,400 range which is where it will finish out the year at. This still means modest gains for 2011 however not the double digit gains we saw in the run up to October 2008. Green will be the new colour to be in the stock market as most of the gains pushing the DOW higher will all be in energy conservation or energy related stocks.
So there ye be – My predictions for 2011. We’ll see you back here next year to see how I did.