International outlook for 2016

Welcome, messed up World, to what will be – possibly not all for the right reasons – a very interesting 2016.

In a year dominated by so many negative things, it is very easy to forget the good things that happened in 2015. And as the many negative things that happened continue to cast a shadow over these early days of the new year, I look forward and wonder what is going to happen from here – not entirely without trepidation. The two terrorist attacks in Paris – both the work of Daesh, or Daesh-linked militants – rocked Europe in ways we have not seen, and in doing so created a situation for civil and human rights that many including myself find quite alarming. This is not just because of the fact that people no longer feel safe, but because of the extreme reaction by hardliners in the West who think Islam and its followers on the whole are to blame for all that is wrong.

Whether it is the environment, the economy or global geopolitics, 2015 was a bad year in many respects. But right at the end just before western politicians rose for their annual Christmas merriment, there was an undertaking in Paris to deal with climate change that gave rays of hope not seen before. Whilst at this stage it is just an undertaking, and large tracts of its success will depend on the up coming United States Presidential election, the fact that many leaders including some in very powerful nations have pledged to limit warming to 1.5°C instead of 2.0°C, is a major step forward.  It cannot come fast enough though, because for the first time we are dealing with global marine ecosystem that could be considered in a state of emergency. It stems from the worsening acidification of the oceans and the resulting harm being done to the species and the marine food chain that supports them all. For the first time we might be witnessing damage being done that cannot heal and whose consequences will be long term.

But going forward into 2016, let us see what might lie ahead:

  • A Republican will win the U.S. election in 2016, but it will not be overwhelming
  • There will be another terrorist attack somewhere in the west that further inflames anti-Muslim sentiment
  • Daesh will suffer major setbacks that cripple their ability to continue fighting large scale actions
  • The Australian Labor Party will win the 2016 election not so much because it deserved to but as a protest action towards the Liberal Party
  • Rio de Janeiro will be marred by scandal in terms of administration of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, but on the whole will be a success
  • A super typhoon (why do they call them that, when they are really just Category 5 events (not that Category 5 is minor!)?) will occur in the Pacific
  • North Korea will test another nuclear weapon just to anger the U.S.

Let us come back to this in late December and see how many of these I got right.

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