10 reasons for rational pessimism in 2015

I’ve been asked: “OK, you started a blog about rational optimism. But, with The Doomsday Clock scarily leaping forward amid a flurry of publicity today, what are you rationally pessimistic about for 2015?” Localised ecological degradation and disease are givens, of course, and as such are really too obvious to include in a list. Better minds than mine have tackled this same question, but here’s ten minutes worth of my typing…

1. The Russian slump.
Russia slumps quickly into a really deep and painful recession.

2. Putin.
Vladimir Putin decides to distract attention from his collapsing economy and face down the West, by massing tank divisions on the Polish border and making a veiled but obvious nuclear threat. Turns out he’s serious… seriously bonkers.

3. Red Ed.
Dithering socialist Ed Miliband becomes the new British Prime Minister, despite his chaotic Labour Party getting a minority of UK votes. Within a year he’s ruined much of the growing UK economy, plunging us back to the state we were in at 2009.

4. Cyberattack on civilians.
A big cyberattack that negatively affects civilian food or water security for several days. Less likely, a nation-scale electricity blackout.

5. The Land of the Setting Sun.
Japan’s economic stimulus decisively sputters and fails, while the nation fails to halt its birthrate decline.

6. Crime insiders.
Continued high-level infiltration by criminals of police forces around the world, aided by endemic lower-level cultures of corruption.

7. Science.
The continuing misuse and misrepresentation of the scientific method in the cause of political agendas; the growing use of ‘nodding dog’ academics to whitewash failed projects and programmes; and the proliferation of bogus open access ejournals in the developing world.

8. Censorship.
Censorship, of all kinds and at all levels, continues to make progress. Worse, it tips over into growing self-censorship. Over-long copyright periods continue to act as a form of censorship. As a side issue, governments attempt to outlaw encrypted communication software (they’ll fail spectacularly, but it won’t be a pretty fight).

9. Dumb.
The investigative and fact-checking aspects of journalism continue their decline in the mainstream media. Well organised groups, from terrorists through to hysterical single-issue campaigners, become more and more adept at stage-managing whole faux ‘events’ for gullible reporters (Hamas, for instance, and Russia); putting up stooges to make false accusations; or fabricating ‘pseudo news’ out of legitimate sources (Russia Today, for instance). And then allowing a gaggle of useful idiots to rapidly whip up a fire-storm of knee-jerk reaction around it.

10. Twitter.
Twitter is the cuckoo-in-the-nest of the Internet. It fails to die.

Ok, so that last one is a tongue-in-cheek long-shot 🙂 Let’s see how many of those still hold, when 2016 rolls around. I’m optimistic that only a few will have happened. And yes, I also considered the obvious knee-jerk stuff: Ebola; ISIS; Iran; Greece; the collapse of the bloated Eurocracy, and so on. I’ve read too much about them already to think they won’t be solved or put on hold in various ways in 2015.

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