Reasons to be cheerful
The economy's shot, unemployment's rising, inflation's going through the roof... but don't despair – The Independent's team bring you causes for optimism in 2012
Tuesday 03 January 2012
The economy: Ben Chu
The doomsayers say: 2012 will be the year much of the world topples back into recession. Unemployment will rise, living standards will fall, businesses will fail, banks will go bust, the eurozone will break up and violent protests will break out on the streets.
But actually: In the UK, inflation will probably soon start falling rapidly. In six months, Britons still in work will see their real incomes start to rise. The Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations in June will raise national morale, encouraging consumer spending, in turn creating jobs and bringing down unemployment. The Olympics will be another welcome boost. The leaders of Europe are likely to take decisive action to prevent the single currency from breaking apart early in the year.
Politics: Oliver Wright
The doomsayers say: We're in the middle of a fixed five-year Parliamentary term, so there's no prospect of a snap election to keep excitement levels up. Labour have an ineffectual leader, but he is likely to limp on until 2015.
But actually: Even if national politics is boring, we've got the Boris and Ken show to keep us occupied. Johnson and Livingstone go up against each other in London's Mayoral elections in May. Watch out for Boris's sideswipes against his friend "Dave" – don't be fooled if he says he never wants to be Prime Minister.
The Arts: Nick Clark
The doomsayers say: Government spending cuts are starting to take their toll, last year was disappointing for mainstream movies – and there's no Glastonbury.
But actually: Several blockbuster shows from David Hockney and Damien Hirst, two of the big beasts of British contemporary art, should cheer people up a bit. Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises is released in the summer followed by Skyfall, the latest Bond film, and the year closes with The Hobbit. In June, the Stone Roses stage a long-awaited reunion and world tour.
Health: Jeremy Laurance
The doomsayers say: As the year begins, seasonal flu poses a grave threat to the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions. The NHS reforms are costly, unnecessary and will lead to the privatisation of health provision.
But actually: On current trends, and after two years of pandemic fears, this winter could be the lowest on record for seasonal flu. Latest figures show the number of cases to be well below previous years. By allowing the market to increase efficiency, the NHS will become more innovative and responsive to patients.
Science: Steve Connor
The doomsayers say: The world's biosphere is buckling under the combined weight of climate change and a global population of 7 billion, leading to increased demand for food, energy and fresh water.
But actually: On a practical level, great advances are being made in sources of alternative energy and new ways of producing food. On a more theoretical level, we may finally know in 2012 whether a sub-atomic particle known as the Higgs boson exists. We can also expect the discovery of yet more planets beyond our Solar System, perhaps an Earth-like twin that could harbour life.
Travel: Simon Calder
The doomsayers say: Buying a dream in the shape of a summer holiday has never looked more of a nightmare. Three awful years have seen the collapse of sterling, tour operators and consumer confidence. Holiday companies have cut capacity, which means less choice and higher prices.
But actually: Those who can travel in the second and third weeks of June can expect great bargain holidays. After the surge in bookings over the Queen's jubilee weekend, the Euro 2012 football championships are dampening demand. Until England either get knocked out or reach the final, holiday buyers will enjoy the best of markets. Greece and Portugal look particularly alluring.
Fashion: Rebecca Gonsalves
The doomsayers say: Away from the catwalks, the struggling economy is eating away at the British high street. Expect more outlets to bite the dust.
But actually: Though the queues forming outside branches of H&M up and down the country may be dressed in less eye-catching clobber than those who waited through the night for 2011's Versace collaboration, Marni's collection for the high street giant is an exciting prospect. Mid-February sees international fashion week come to London – Stella McCartney and McQ by Alexander McQueen return to the fold.
Sport: Robin Scott-Elliot
The doomsayers say: It's only January but pre-Olympic fatigue has already taken hold, with the mere sight of Lord Coe enough to make those without tickets retch in disgust.
But actually: When the sport itself begins, the doubters will be proved wrong: the Olympics is the greatest show on Earth and the Paralympics the most inspiring. There will be the odd drug cheat, but they will be buried under a mass of athletic achievement. From the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, two of the greatest sportsmen the world has seen, to the surprise hits (don't miss handball or BMX), the Games will look good, feel good and will ultimately prove Lord Coe right. It's expensive, but it's genuinely a once-in-a-lifetime event and, at last, it's ours.
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