It’s the end of 2015, and many are using the occasion to look back on the major moments and trends of the last year. The more forward-thinking writers of the world, however, are bravely leading readers into the new year — making predictions involving everything from gravitational waves to craft beer. Here’s what the uncertain fate of 2016 may hold for the human race, according to the Internet.
TRUMP HOLDING THE NUCLEAR CODES
Oil prices soar after Islamic State destroys facilities across the Middle East. Angela Merkel is forced to resign, throwing the European Union into disarray. The dollar slumps as Russian and Iranian hackers team up to launch cyber-attacks on U.S banks. [Bloomberg News]
AN UNWELCOME CHANGE
The two words “climate” and “change” are so routinely strung together that just saying them as a pair — “climate change” —seems to somehow obscure the full weight of the phenomenon they describe, to say nothing of its consequences. But in those moments when one pauses to consider the ramifications of human activity on the planet for generations and generations ahead, things can feel beyond bleak. And yet: This past year saw the nations of the world reached their first-ever agreement on an ambitious plan to rein in emissions, perhaps the most significant progress yet made on this issue. [The Atlantic]
A WAVE OF NEW DISCOVERIES
In July, Climeworks will begin capturing CO2 from the environment to sell to actual greenhouses:
A Swiss company is set to become the first firm to capture carbon dioxide from the air and sell it on a commercial scale, a stepping stone to larger facilities that could one day help to combat global warming.
Recent astrophysical technology could bring a slew of cosmic discoveries within the new year, such as gravitational waves:
Physicists think there is a good chance that they will see the first evidence of gravitational waves — ripples in space-time caused by dense, moving objects such as spiraling neutron stars — thanks to the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Advanced LIGO). [Scientific American]
LET’S KEEP ‘LEXICON’ FOR NOW
In the Stranger, Rich Smith calls for a revision for some of 2015’s trendiest words:
What if we made a conscious effort to change the way we talk about stuff in a way that doesn’t work against the very thing we’re trying to say? To that end, I think we must kill off *ahem* find better purposes for words that contain unhelpful ideas, and offer up new ones that might work out better. [The Stranger]
NOT A SEAMLESS MARKET PLAN
Even though the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies fell in 2015, Forbes has high hopes for the number of women in boardrooms:
Nearly one-third of new Fortune 500 directors appointed in 2014 were women. And of the 5,415 board seats on America’s largest corporations, 1,057 (20%) of them are currently held by females — up 4% from February. The case for female directors (and a generally diverse boardroom) has been well made in recent years, with evidence mounting that companies with diverse boards perform better. So we estimate that the count will climb another 7% in 2016—to 1,130.
In another prediction, Fortune foresees a slump for the rocketing food delivery market:
Everybody eats — but we may not eat nearly enough to support the ballooning food-delivery tech category. Consulting firm Rosenheim Advisors counted 88 companies in the U.S. that offer either meal kits, meal delivery, food e-commerce, online grocery shopping, or online ordering. “In the next 12 to 18 months there will be some reckoning,” says Brita Rosenheim, who runs her eponymous firm. [Forbes]
IT’S NOT ALL FOAM
America now has more functioning breweries than it ever has before, finally topping pre-Prohibition numbers. This means very, very good things for us all, namely in the form of more beer for everyone, everywhere!…These are the next-wave breweries you’ll be making road trips to visit in 2016, whose beers you’ll scour trading sites for, and who you’ll be hearing about from friends returning from vacation. [Thrillist]
Cosby’s lawyers have denied most of the charges, when they have addressed them at all. But, in 2016, Cosby will suffer a lot more than bad publicity. A criminal investigation and multiple civil lawsuits are moving forward against him. The statute of limitations has been Cosby’s ally throughout his legal troubles, but the number and magnitude of the allegations should overwhelm him this year. It’s a good guess that Cosby will end 2016 in prison — and that he will end his life destitute. [The New Yorker]
DRINK YOUR CHAMPAGNE ANYWAY
Russell Davies writes in Wired that while it’s fun to make predictions for the coming year, we should also acknowledge the slow drudgery of significant change:
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t also point out that a key defining characteristic of 2016 will be that, for the most part, it’ll be exactly the same as 2015. And very like 2014. And much the same as 2006. And, actually, not that different to 1996, 1986 and 1976. Get a bit further back and it’ll get different, but it’s important to consider this point: most things, certainly most big things, don’t change very fast. It’s just that we don’t pay attention to them. [Wired]
This feature originally appeared in Digg.