Anyway, I'm not trained in fortune telling, but I don't do too badly at looking at current events and making predictions about what the future might hold based on current trends.
This time last year, I predicted:
- We hadn't heard the last of the OWS movement. I totally missed on this one, although while they are not longer "occupying" anything, they are still somewhat active. They're, at least, trying to make a positive difference. This article on why the movement fizzled was interesting.
- We would start seeing government cuts. I totally nailed this one, and it was worse than I would have thought. The sequester and subsequent shut-down resulted in cuts that will have a more far-reaching effect that most of us will realize. My family is not dependent on food stamps for any portion of our dietary needs, but there are a lot of people who are. We will - all of us - come to feel some of the bite, either with higher taxes at the local and State level as our smaller government bodies try to take up the slack left by the cutting of these federal food assistance programs, or in other, perhaps not so obvious ways (hungry people are desperate people).
- The price of oil per barrel will remain close to $100 per barrel. This one, I nailed. The price of oil per barrel stayed above $90 for almost the entire year (there was a week or two where it went as low as $85/barrel).
- We'd love our second-hand stuff even more. I'm going to say I nailed this one, too. I don't have any concrete examples, but the thrift shop industry is booming, and I can think of half a dozen thrift stores within shouting distance of my house that aren't Goodwill. I've also seen a bunch of fix-it places pop up. Two years ago my daughter dropped her iPod and our option at that time was to buy her a replacement. This year, my daughter dropped her iPod, and we found no less than three places where we could get it fixed for half what it would have cost to replace it.
I'm almost afraid to make any predictions this year, because, with regard to our government's behavior (especially at the federal level), the economy, the environment, our food/water supplies, and energy resources, I just see more of the same.
By now, anyone who is paying attention knows that the US hit Peak Oil in the 1970s, and there seems to be a lot of evidence that the world has peaked as well. That doesn't mean we're out of oil, but it does mean that there is less to be had. The good news is that there does seem to be a decrease in overall usage, but the question is, are we using less because we're making conscious choices to do so, or are we using less because there's less to use? The latter is certainly true, and I'd like to think that the collective consciousness is trying to make wiser ecological choices.
Usually, my predictions are dire. Instead, I'm going to try to put a positive spin. So, here are my 2014 predictions:
- There will be a bigger trend toward going small, especially with regard to energy consumption. I predict more households will be opting for residential-sized power generation and more communities will be finding ways to make their power generation local rather than region. In short, I think people will begin to realize how fragile and cumbersome our grid system is, and instead of waiting for someone to fix the aging system, will do it for themselves.
- In that same vein, I think we'll see a lot more innovation with regard to localized power generation systems. I think more people will be exploring the best option for their particular location, and we'll see a lot more of things like biogassification, methane digesters, and, perhaps, some water wheels (using rain run-off from roofs, for example).
- We will see a lot more news about front yard gardeners being harassed by their local municipalities for alleged illegal gardens, but every story about garden oppression will create a dozen new gardeners. I think more people will jump on the self-sufficiency wagon, especially with regard to their food.
It's really the same stuff I've been saying for years. I guess the bottom line is that I don't think anything is going to change drastically this year from the trend that we've been seeing for the past five years. More people will be using less; more people will be realizing that the government is unstable and is NOT going to take care of them; and more people will be engaging in quiet, civil disobedience - like gardening and raising chickens, in spite of local ordinances.
Here's to a happy and abundant 2014!