Fasten your seat belts for a news-packed 2019

Looking ahead: Which of these potential news stories will come to define 2019?

Brexit. An economic crash. Freak weather. More adventures in space. What are the stories The Day will be covering in the next 12 months? And can we allow ourselves a glimmer of hope?

Nine days into 2019, and it is already a year to remember: NASA received a New Year’s message from the edge of the solar system, while on Earth the US president declared that his own government’s shutdown could last for “years”. (Not to mention the furore over Greggs’s new vegan sausage roll.)

So what does the rest of 2019 have in store?

First, politics. Since 2016, the world has been shaped by a global rise in populism. This shows no sign of abating; Brazil swore in its new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, on New Year’s Day. Populist parties are likely to make gains in the European parliamentary elections in May, potentially changing the EU forever.

However, the two projects that kickstarted this era — Brexit and the election of Donald Trump — may reach their apex. The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, and Theresa May’s withdrawal deal is unlikely to pass through Parliament next week. That leaves the options of a chaotic “no deal” Brexit, delaying the exit date, or reversing the whole thing in a second referendum.

As for America — Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump team is nearing its final stages. Impeachment could follow.

All this uncertainty in politics is already having consequences for the economy. Fears over the US-China trade war caused stock markets to plummet in December.

Scandals last year caused stocks in tech giants like Facebook to fall too.

Could 2019 see another recession? Several economists have predicted that rising household debts in the US mean the world is “due” a crash before 2020 begins, with one suggesting it will be “worse than the Great Depression”.

The year is also likely to see more record temperatures and extreme weather, spurred by climate change and an El Niño event.

On the bright side, advances in science and technology will amaze and astonish us, whether in medicine, cars or smart homes. And 50 years after man first walked on the Moon, Richard Branson says that the first space tourists will blast off before the year is out…

To us, whose job it is to study the news, sort the wheat from the chaff and try to describe the deeper currents that are driving change, it really does feel as if events are building up to something momentous and historic. It is hard to recall any period over the past 50 years when so many pressures on so many levels have been building so fast.

Roller coaster

How should we feel? Fearful or hopeful? Would you have liked to live through the French Revolution or the Italian Renaissance or the European Reformation?

Risky, of course. But also a time when ideas, inventions and movements spring forth and launch amazing advances. And just think of the stories you may tell your grandchildren.

You Decide

  1. Will 2019 be a good year?
  2. What shapes the world most: politics, science or art?

Activities

  1. As a class, each write down three of your own predictions for 2019 and seal them in an envelope or a Word document. Open it again in December (or at the end of the school year) to find out who was right!
  2. Choose one of the events or themes mentioned in this article and do your own research into what it involves — and what is most likely to happen this year. Summarise your findings in a single paragraph.

Some People Say...

“May you live in interesting times.”

An ancient Chinese curse

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
There are some events scheduled for 2019 that we can (mostly) be sure of. For example, the Rugby World Cup will take place in Japan in September, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in France in June. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting their first baby in the spring. It is also the 50th anniversary of the first men on the Moon, the Woodstock festival and the Beatles’ final album, Abbey Road.
What do we not know?
Many other things about the fate of the world in 2019. Politics and the economy are famously unpredictable, but these are the forces which shape our daily lives. Meanwhile, sudden events (such as the death of the Queen, the outbreak of war or a disease epidemic) are often the things that are remembered throughout history.

Word Watch

Message
NASA’s New Horizons probe flew past an object called Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day, snapping photos and beaming them back to Earth. It is the furthest object ever explored.
Shutdown
It is now day 19 of the US government shutdown, in which 800,000 government employees have been sent home without pay. It has been caused by a dispute about funding for a wall at the US border with Mexico.
Populism
Politics which is based on appealing to ordinary people, fuelled by anger towards current leaders and elites.
Parliamentary elections
A total of 751 Members of the European Parliament will be elected between 23-26 May.
No deal
Among other things, leaving the EU without a deal would force Britain to revert to World Trading Organisation rules for tariffs for imports and exports, potentially causing chaos at its borders.
Investigation
This includes possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.
US-China trade war
The two countries have imposed tariffs of up to 25% on each other’s imports.
El Niño
A warm period in the Pacific Ocean’s temperatures which affects the global climate.