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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Predictions for 2012

A few predictions for the coming year:

<famous celeb> will divorce <another famous celeb>

Oi, Mr Brand, you could have waited a few days! There'll be more. Dead cert, as always.

As the western world rushes at an ever-accelerating pace towards third-world status, we'll see more problems with crumbling infrastructure, in particular the North American electricity power grid.

California and New Zealand both suffered the consequences of inadequately resilient electric power grids in 2011. Expect this sort of occurrence to become more commonplace over the next few years. Both countries, by the way, have had over 40 years to sort out the already known by the 1970s grid problems; both failed to do so.

More 'weird weather' across the globe, bringing large loss of life, crop failures, and high staple food prices. Expect major 2007-scale floods in the United Kingdom.

And they'll still deny that it's climate change, insisting that it's natural variations in the weather.

A bad year for the UK's Labour Party. The knives will be out for Ed Miliband. It's unlikely that he'll still be Labour leader this time next year.

The polls are already showing ridiculously large public support for the Tories. This is likely to increase, as an increasingly insecure public seeks security in "strong leadership". We learn from history, etc...

The 'Occupy' movement won't go away, but is likely to split into multiple factions of varying degrees of militancy.

In the USA and beleaguered eurozone countries, there'll be physical violence against the elite or symbols of the elite. Things will get a lot nastier, and governments will become even more repressive against ordinary citizens. The term 'domestic terrorism', or something similar, will get a lot of media attention.

Strong laws to regulate the banksters will not be enacted.

Measures pretending to be the same will be, but they'll have been drafted with the aid of the guilty parties with enough loopholes to satisfy the corrupt and greedy.

The financial crash will continue unabated, and governments will even more zealously chant their religious mantras of "growth at any cost".

Pissing against the wind never was a good idea, and attempting to 'grow' in a world in which availability of real physical and ecological resources is contracting rapidly is the worst possible strategy, which can only hasten collapse.

More "Household name" High Street stores will vanish from the urban landscape.

I'd thought this one before the announcements about the difficulties being experienced by Blacks and Barratts. There'll be more to come.

People start to wake up to reality. Physical, ecological, psychological and spiritual reality. And that will bring great suffering.

For many people, acknowledging reality will involve psychological trauma as their dreams and hopes are shown to be cruel delusions. The upside is, as Kahlil Gibran wrote in The Prophet, "the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain".

On that cheerful note, Happy New Year.

Postscript, January 1st

The ink's hardly dried on this blog post and the Grauniad comes up with this: "2012 could be 'disastrous' for retail sector, warn analysts".

Postscript 2, January 18th

This week, gift shop chain Past Times and clothing retailer Peacocks have both gone into administration. They haven't vanished from the High Street yet, but hey, it's only January and there's more to come.

Postscript 3, February 22nd

Greenbang reports today that US power blackouts leave record numbers in the dark. Whilst not confirming my prediction (it's way too soon for that), the article makes it clear that there is a problem which needs dealing with.

It was confirmed today that 224 Peacocks stores have ceased trading, including the one here in Worcester (which opened in May, 2009), so though the name survives in other towns and cities, it has definitely vanished from my urban landscape.

Postscript 4, May 16th

Clinton Cards is the latest victim of the recession.

Postscript 5, June 8th

Dmitry Orlov has also noticed the fragility of the North American electric power grid.

Postscript 6, June 30th

Apple Crop Destroyed. 90 Percent loss in Michigan, Ontario due to Bizarre Spring. Deniers: “More Co2 Needed”.

Corn jumps on US Midwest drought, up 12 pct in two days, reports Reuters.

Postscript 7, July 4th and 6th

Jesse's Café Américain pleads: Mr. President, Fix This Power Grid... John Cooper also finds the situation intolerable. Dave Cohen comments on Multilple Failures in the United States. The Associated Press story he cites backs up my claim that we've had plenty of time to fix electricity grid problems.

Postscript 8, July 17th

Electric Forecast Calls for Increasing Blackouts - "From falling investment to falling deer, America’s power grid is falling down. A lack of political will and willingness to rely on Band-Aids may doom efforts to improve the nation’s power infrastructure."

Postscript 9, July 18th

George Mobus, in his excellent "Question Everything" blog, is Watching the Global Economic System self-destruct: "It is ironic, though, that the very thing that everyone is just so sure is the cure to the problem, growth, is actually the cause of our predicament in the first place. Economic growth at a time of approaching limits of critical resources is exactly the opposite of a healthy economy. The economy is entering a phase, a permanent phase, of on-going contraction that no one will be able to halt with any conceivable fiscal or monetary policies. In the end they won't even be able to slow the contraction down after it builds momentum."

Postscript 10, July 20th

Record cereal prices stoke fears of global food crisis: "corn prices hitting a record high of $8.16 (£5.19) a bushel on Thursday, while soya beans hit a high of $17.17"

Postscript 11, July 31st

Second blackout in India in two days leaves 670 million without power, reports Reuters. "Half of India's 1.2 billion people were without power on Tuesday as the grids covering a dozen states broke down, the second major blackout in as many days and an embarrassment for the government as it struggles to revive economic growth. Stretching from Assam, near China, to the Himalayas and the deserts of Rajasthan, the power cut was the worst to hit India in more than a decade."

Postscript 12, August 2nd

Aging power grid on overload as U.S. demands more electricity, reports the Washington Post.

Postscript 13, August 5th

Attack on Sikh temple labelled 'domestic terrorism'.

Postscript 14, August 20th

Be sure to read Nicole Foss' article "India Power Outage: The Shape of Things to Come?"

Postscript 15, Sept 6th

Extreme Weather Supersizes Global Food Price Tags

Postscript 16, Sept 24th

JJB Sports is the latest victim of the 'downturn'. Oct 1st: JJB Sports in administration with 2,200 job losses.

Postscript 17, Sept 24th

Flood! There were some in the summer, but today's floods have had a bigger impact. It is the most intense September storm in thirty years, reports the BBC. "Now climate experts warn that every house in the country is at risk of flooding", reports the Indy.

Postscript 18, Oct 10th

Wet weather set to hit UK food prices, reports the Beeb. "The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said wheat yields in England were down by almost 15% on the five-year average, with productivity down to 1980s levels." "Winter barley yields were up 1.6%; spring barley yields were down 7.4% and oilseed rape yields were up 5.9%, so it was a "mixed picture" but the wheat harvest was the most crucial. Mr Johnson said fruit and vegetable crops had also been affected, with potatoes and apples particularly badly affected."

Note the complete absence of any mention of climate change, as I predicted.

Postscript 19, October 18th

"More than 30 chain stores closing a day", reports The Guardian. "The UK's struggling retail chains are closing their shops at a rate of more than 30 a day across the UK as the economic downturn continues, according to research. Figures show that across the UK embattled retailers closed 32 stores a day in July and August as Britain's high street continued to suffer from the consumer spending slump. That figure is up from 20 a day in the first six months of 2012."

Postscript 20, October 31st

And the next chain to likely to become no more than a ghost in our rapidly-fading memories is Comet. Both Retail Week and the Financial Times are reporting that it will go into administration tomorrow.

The BBC has a chart of High Street retailers who've been hit the hardest.

Postscript 21, December 12th

US Power Grid Vulnerable To Just About Everything

Postscript, 22, December 24th

In floods whose impacts are more severe than November's, the main rail link to Devon and Cornwall is washed out. And there's more to come. The Severn here is at its highest level since January 2008.

Retailers 'facing critical financial issues', reports the Beeb. "Nearly 140 retailers are in a "critical condition" despite Christmas being their peak trading time, business recovery firm Begbies Traynor has said. Its UK business solvency survey found 13,700 more firms were in distress, a 35% rise in the quarter to December. It said many could struggle to meet their quarterly rent payment, due on Christmas Day."

Looks like I'm going to be able to go green and recycle my 2012 predictions for 2013!

FBI investigated Occupy Wall Street as 'domestic terrorists': 'the FBI treated the Occupy movement as potential criminals and "domestic terrorists" despite the fact that Occupy demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful and the Bureau admits that protest organizers did "not condone the use of violence."'

And on the subject of 'Occupy', I got it both right and wrong. Two major offshoots of the Occupy movement, Occupy Sandy, and Strike Debt emerged this year ('multiple factions'?), very different from the original.

Posted by Phil at 12:39 PM
Edited on: Monday, December 24, 2012 1:32 PM
Categories: Comment, Waffle