Predictions for 2007

As the curse goes: may we live in interesting times

2007 will bring war to the Middle East on a grand scale. Iraq will degenerate into open civil war, drawing in Iran and other Gulf countries. Shortly, mostly likely in January, the US will begin attacking Iranian air defence systems in preparation for a spring offensive. America will give its people an option: do we invade or nuke? Americans will choose to invade. I don't know what excuse the US Administration will use to launch this attack, but I suspect it will come soon. Lebanon too will continue its degeneration into civil war, as will the Gaza Strip. The land invasion of Iran will be quick and destructive. There will be no talk of regime change or occupation; the stated goal will be the destruction of the Iranian armed forces and its nuclear capability.

In 2007, the Afghan insurgency will heat up significantly. However, most of the world will forget about Afghanistan as the war in the Gulf grows. 2007 will also bring famine to North Korea and China will have to deal with a significant number of refugees. Likewise, this will be generally ignored by the West where more pressing concerns will dominate the media. For the same reason, little will be heard of Darfur or Somalia.

In the West, the rising price of oil will dominate the agenda. Oil prices will rise, possibly double, as production in the Middle East slows to a trickle. Most economies will begin a fall into recession, if not outright depression. Oil producing countries like Russia will boom. Japan, China, and other Asian countries will be hit particularly hard. In Canada, Alberta will obviously fair the best while Ontario and Quebec will find their manufacturing centres hit hard in the short term. Automotive manufacturing will rebound in a few years, as people swap SUVs for more fuel efficient cars, but the latter part of 2007 will be hard. In BC, there will be significant pressure to remove the coastal oil and gas drilling moratorium. Gasoline prices will exceed $140 per litre in Canada. The rising cost of fuel and Chinese manufactured goods will push inflation up significantly. BC's forest industry will be hit hard with an American recession. Interest rates will rise and housing prices will fall.

On the brighter side, with the rising cost of oil, greenhouse gas emissions will actually slow for a while. The technology sector, led by renewable energy systems, will boom. 2007 will see the announcement of a viable technique for converting aluminium into hydrogen, possibly from an Canadian company. This will, along with high oil prices, open the door to a hydrogen-based energy system. Aluminium storage may even make it possible to convert existing vehicles to hydrogen fuel.

Bioengineering offers other possible breakthroughs in 2007 that could lead to a better future. These include: fixing nitrogen at low energy (rather than using natural gas), high-yield plants for methanol production, and bacteria to generate hydrogen. The rising price of oil will fuel many other technological innovations as well. Cheap oil has frozen the adoption of many alternative energy systems over the years; this will end as oil prices rise dramatically.

In short, 2007 will be a transition year. The Middle East will fall into a long and protracted series of wars, oil prices will rise significantly, worldwide recession will hit, and the world will begin the adjustment by weaning itself off of fossil fuels. This is something we are going to have to do, sooner or later. The Mid East war will make it happen sooner; this is a good thing.

 

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