Making predictions about the new year is a time-honoured tradition for newspaper pundits but we really are no better at predicting the future than anyone else.
Indeed, if you were to survey the world’s population on a series of yes/no questions (for example, is the world going to be a better place in 2022?) some people will get it right. With only two choices, the results have to be one or the other!
But it does lead to the interesting question of what constitutes better? For example, if you have more money in 2022, would that be better? Most people would answer yes to such a question. But if prices stay ahead of any increase in salary – that is, if your raise is say 10 percent but prices go up by 20 percent, then you are actually behind. Making more money only helps if prices increase at a slower rate.
I would suggest a better world, at the end of 2022, would be one with more people having what they need. Fewer people malnourished. Fewer people living in poverty. Fewer people living without a home. A great percentage of the human race living fulfilling lives.
But to get back to the business of prognosticating, I am pretty sure this will not be the case for 2022 nor for years to come. Addressing social ills is the work of a lifetime.
On the other hand, I am fairly certain we will be dealing with variants of COVID for the next year. Omicron is pervasive now but there are more variants to come. Too many people are left unvaccinated and represent a breeding ground for mutations in the virus’ structure.
And 2022 will see climate change continue. The mean average surface temperature will continue to rise as we pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The consequences will be some wacky weather – maybe not in British Columbia but certainly around the globe.
I would also predict first light from the James Webb Space Telescope will be greeted with joy by the scientists involved and who knows? Maybe 2022 will be the year we find proof of extraterrestrial life.
The one thing I do know is no matter what, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year!
Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at UNBC.