Increasingly, I am finding that many of the current events surprise me not so much in their existence as in their specific details. I think we, all of us, "pick up" on subtle trends and signals which could suggest patterns of future events, but that these are too often buried under the "noise" of everyday existence and subsequently forgotten.
Specifically, what I would like to try here is to create a space for us to speculate, test, attempt to predict a future pattern or specific event outside our immediate selves. It could be something global or something local, social or geophysical, affecting millions of people or only a few hundred. I would also suggest, whenever possible, that we attempt an estimated year, time range, or deadline. It is a basic understanding that we could be wrong (especially in the details), and that by sheer randomness we are far more likely to be wrong than right. What I am speculating, here, is that events are not nearly as random as they might first appear -- and that we may already have the tools to pick out pattern from that "randomness".
I begin with three relatively short-term things: something geophysical (the weather), something socio-political, and something socio-biological. (I think it goes without saying any predictions I make here are made independently of any personal hopes or fears.)
I predict that across the North American continent, this coming winter is likely to bring overall amounts of snowfall/precipitation comparable to last winter (sorry, RC!). This could be combined with moderately colder than average temperatures overall but with greater oscillations -- with the result that the deep South is likely to experience a snow or ice storm. This could be a good thing, since once the initial set of spring rains tapers off, North America could be into a severely polarised precipitation pattern again: either too much or too little, with severe storms likely. I also have the feeling it could be a severe hurricane season in the Atlantic.
I also predict that the bombing and external military attacks in Afghanistan will end by mid-November (this set of air attacks virtually "for certain"); or else that the coalition will fall apart at that time, with most non-Western countries withdrawing from it (all the Arabic countries, with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia) and perhaps also a few Western countries (but not Great Britain or the United States). A clear objective will not have been accomplished and the Taliban will retain their hold over about a quarter of the country, although victory will be declared. An external military force will be left in Afghanistan, occupying the south (similar to the "no fly" zone in Iraq): I think that it will be primarily American and British, although there is a small possibility that a UN "peacekeeping" unit will be sent instead.
I think it also likely that Pakistani internal stability will further weaken. In the short term (next six months) this will result in increased Pakistani-Indian aggression. Over the next 12-18 months, one of three results are possible: military coup (70% chance), Islamic fundamentalist revolt or extreme return to the Shari'a interpretations as law by way of "compromise" (10%/60% chance -- direct Islamic fundamentalist revolt is much more likely either in Saudi Arabia or in Egypt), or complete fragmentation of government similar to what has happened in Afghanistan (20% chance). In the third case (or if this case is threatening), there will be attempts to place an external military force in Pakistan in parallel with the one left in Afghanistan, and of similar constitution. (Such an attempt may be disguised as the need to maintain a "temporary" base in Pakistan to deal with continuing problems in Afghanistan.) Such an action will be counterproductive, in that it will actually increase internal instability.
Independently of any deliberate human action -- not as a result of any terrorist act -- a "new" (I suspect bacterial) disease, or an existing disease but significantly mutated from its origins to the point where it could be called "new", will arise in either western Europe or the continental United States (more likely the second) within the next two years. It is unlikely to be air-transmissible, but may find a vector in inadequately treated sewage or common city insects ( eg. cockroaches). It will affect between 80-300 people before a disease-specific (as opposed to symptomatic) treatment can be found.
Again within the next two years, domestic cases of malaria will be discovered east of the Mississippi and as far north as the Finger Lakes region. (There already have been two cases near New York City.)
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So: those are my starting attempts. I will add more or amend as new information arises or as I think of them -- and I fully expect to be wrong in many of these projections, although I will do my utmost not to be.
Anyone else willing to join in?