Has there ever been a new year as eagerly awaited as 2021? A fresh start, a new century, a new decade theoretically, an end to the annus horribilis, and a true hope to look forward to.
Forecasts are often unwise, they claim, especially when it comes to the future; optimistic predictions are even more so.
But could 2021 have been a generation’s best year? It’s a temptation, of course.
The moment the first crisis of the new year erupts, whether in Hong Kong, Ethiopia, a clogged British port, or an unfortunate lowland that happens to be struck by the first deluge of 2021, will be much better to expect more confrontation, aggression, and suffering, and explain it. But let’s quickly remember the caveats: there will be moments when it doesn’t feel like the greatest year of the century so far.
It’s the essence of the news to dwell on the downside, so ensuring that all the headlines would be cheerful will be unwise. Employment, mental wellbeing, loneliness, sorrow, poverty, inequality: the pandemic leaves quite a trail in its path as a force multiplier. Even if the planet is on a long path to recovery, it will be difficult for certain societies destroyed by Covid-19 to feel any of it at all. A few recent breakthroughs have lent the new year a special tinge of hope before we have even rung it in. 2021 will be the year of vaccination, the year in which Joe Biden seeks to restore U.S. leadership to integrity and civility.
It may be the year that the EU and the United Kingdom leave behind the mutual devastation brought on by Brexit. By treating the symptoms alone, none can be definitively treated. 2021 would just be the beginning, but at least in the case of Covid, the beginning might be sufficient to restore social life in a pretty dizzying way.
The official promises of a late spring relaxation and a summer of love beyond that sound realistic, assuming that vaccination progresses quickly and judiciously. We might only be just three or four months away from a whole new country. Crowds could start going to sporting events again, and in a long summer of exciting tournaments, there will be no lack of options.
As cultural life resumes and theaters fill up, music festivals could also be worthwhile. European companies are cautiously positive about the 2021 recovery prospects. According to the Organisation for International Cooperation and Development, the global economy is going to rise again and some economists are even expecting another “roaring 20s.”
Simple stuff can feel oddly sublime, like a spontaneous pint in the pub garden or dinner with an extended family or a group of friends. It will feel like taking off a pair of shoes that are too tiny in the second half of 2021…. From this crisis, we learned so many important lessons, knowledge that will make life easier after the pandemic than life before it.
Life is made a little happier by simple things like neighbors, pets, volunteering, and public parks. For millions around the world, the endless commute – over 500 hours a year that you never get back – may be a thing of the past, paving the way for the greatest work-life balance we have ever seen.
Science is superior, the pandemic has restored the primacy of truth over rumors over conspiracy theories, and academic rigor. Remote”Remote”
Now that we know how to prevent them, colds and flu viruses can become less frequent. 2021 is sure to be another of the warmest years on record, and we will again be reminded of the challenge ahead by ominous weather events (Atlantic hurricanes, forest fires, floods, drought).
But try to see the vast number of companies, corporations and nations dedicated to a zero carbon strategy as well. The U.S. will rejoin the Paris Accord. The dropping cost of solar energy and the fact that the vast majority of new electricity generation capacity worldwide will come from renewable sources should be celebrated. Electric car sales are climbing steadily.
And we will draw confidence from the fact that they will also resolve the climate emergency if people can overcome Covid-19.