After war, inflation, recession and climate disaster in 2022, what hope for 2023?
Well, at least a little, according to the Guardian’s supporters, who can see a few silver linings in the year ahead, among the more obvious clouds.
From thousands of responses to our year-end survey, several people forecast a resolution to the war in Ukraine – either through diplomacy or from some sort of calamity besetting Vladimir Putin. Against that, there are many who worry things will get worse before they get better, predicting that the war will drag on deep into the year.
A number of respondents feel that 2023 will be a record year for heatwaves, carbon emissions, sea level rises and rainfall – but also for renewable energy and insulation. Some are predicting sharp reductions in global energy usage as a result of recent high prices, and a few reckon we will hit “peak aviation” as travellers increasingly opt for more sustainable methods. Many worry that poverty and inequality are only going to get worse.
Political predictions range from an early election in the UK and the ascent of Starmer’s Labour party to Nigel Farage’s comeback. Some foresee bad years for Iran’s government and Donald Trump. Elections mean incumbents in Spain, Poland and Turkey could struggle to stay in office. Some think the damage being done by Brexit will become increasingly accepted, and the UK will grow closer to Europe – maybe even a move back towards a single market.
The labour market will tighten after a wave of retirement, but then many will return to the workforce on a part-time basis – and find it unexpectedly fulfilling.
Some long cherished features of our leisure time are forecast to decline in 2023: some respondents see Mediterranean beaches being deserted because of the heat, and cinemas empty because of streaming.
The intersecting worlds of science and technology look set to bring mixed blessings. Some say spikes in cyberterrorism will cause huge outages. Others believe renewable energy and nuclear fusion advancements will bring hope to millions, that more mRNA-based vaccines will show promising results, that recent strides in molecular genetics will start to transform healthcare. Against that is the worry there will be some new revelation about the impact of digital devices on the dopamine systems of the teenage brain.
Some say social media use will decline as users realise the downsides outweigh the benefits. Something mysterious will be discovered in the ocean depths, and we’ll get signals from deep space that can only be explained as being from intelligent life.
Many things are forecast to collapse, either gradually or suddenly: these range from the Thwaites glacier to the UK rail industry, Twitter, a major retailer and property prices.
Other more hopeful forecasts include a gamechanging medical discovery and a well-known footballer coming out. Protests will spark positive action from world leaders, and climate income will become a mainstream idea.
Meanwhile, the former prime minister Boris Johnson will seek French citizenship, like his father or appear on Strictly Come Dancing – with Matt Hancock, and perhaps Liz Truss.
A selection of supporters’ predictions for 2023
A resurgence of goods to Ukraine including low energy bulbs. A steep fall in energy prices.
John Phelan, Halifax, UK
The Ukraine war will go on until well into the spring/summer. But I think it will wind down then.
Ruth Brandon, UK
Deeper than expected recession in the UK in contrast to strength in the eurozone helped by peace in Ukraine. And the Republican party will be split by the return of Donald Trump.
Philip Knight, UK
Russian economy collapses and the federation disbands. Ukraine starts rebuilding and does better than anyone had expected. The opposition wins the elections in Poland returning to the rule of law. Twitter implodes.
Enric Martinez, the Netherlands
Twitter users like me will cling to it, even paying a small fee to stay connected to people we like, until or unless we are banned as individuals for breaking some new rule. There is no substitute.
Albertina McNeil, UK
I see a forced general election, and renegotiation of some aspects of Brexit particularly with regard to farming and exports.
Liz Rentell, Spain
People will continue to refuse vaccines, helping viruses from measles to the latest editions of Covid to spread.
Martin Bryson, Canada
In the UK, Conservatives will become more desperate and will lose heavily in the council elections. Scotland will make a significant move for independence. The railway will be nationalised. We will probably have to pay for some medical procedures.
James Storer, UK
More climate emergencies but still a total lack of action and continued expansion of fossil fuel use. Further erosion of democracy and human rights around the world. More protests.
Bob Simpson, Milton Keynes
Trump will announce he won’t run for president. Later on, he will of course change his mind on the subject. Newly registered users on TikTok start receiving content proposing self-harm and fuelling low self-esteem within a few minutes of clicking, while the same app delivers content designed to bolster belief and promote education, when the new user is signed up in China.
Frederik Lundstrom, Sweden
China will go through more dramatic changes as a result of Covid running wild through the under-vaccinated population.
Alan Couldrey, Thailand
As a geologist, I know that species appear, develop and then, a million years later, they disappear. Well, maybe it is time for humans to disappear from this beautiful blue planet, since our species is causing so much damage.
Maria Martins, Portugal
Sadly, more poverty, more people living harder existences while working more hours. The gap between rich and poor will grow. I fear that mortgage repossessions will rise, which will be heartbreaking – so I desperately hope I am wrong.
Diane Amphlett, UK
King Charles will abdicate in favour of Prince William.
Fran, Bristol, UK
The Daily Mail will back Keir Starmer for next PM.
Judith Harris, Caterham, UK
The UK will win Eurovision.
Claire, Somerset, UK
Putin will fall from power.
Klaus Reese, Hamburg, Germany
A path will be laid for a female pope.
Nick Rouse, Plumpton Green, UK