You know, there are things coming up this year that will be good, and others which will not.
Having my second child will be great. He/she is due in early July. It will complete our family, and soon after I'll be having the snip - item #1 of the things I'm not looking forward to.
Publishing Black Lord of Eagles is going to be good too. It's planned for April 7th, a collaboration with Blue Poppy Publishing, and will be my first new novel for nearly two years. I won't wait as long again, I promise.
Now, bad things....
In Italy, the Pascha di Siena bank is the oldest in the world. It's also crippled by toxic debt, and was given until the end of 2016 to raise billions in new assets. If it failed - which seems almost certain, though it's not official yet - it will collapse. Since it's tied into the Italian banking system, and that system is almost as weak as the di Siena, it will probably mean a broad banking collapse that will destroy the Italian economy. In turn, that will bring down the Euro currency and maybe break the EU itself.
Apocalyptic? The EU Central Bank admits it is likely to happen that way.
Second bad thing. In Iraq, the Mosul Dam was built on gypsum, which dissolves in contact with water. For 30 years concrete has been pumped into the ground to solidify it, day after day, with no pause. And then IS took over, and for somewhere between one month and eighteen months, no pumping was done. IS has been driven out now, but many engineers are missing and equipment is gone or destroyed too. Water downstream now shows high levels of gypsum. One end of the Mosul Dam has tilted by half an inch. Not much, but it shows the dam's integrity has begun to fail.
In spring, mountain snow melt will fill the river Tigris and add pressure to the dam. A team of US engineers recently said they expect the Mosul Dam to collapse under that stress. That will mean a 100-foot wall of water hitting Mosul city within minutes, and a 15-foot wall reaching Baghdad four hours later. 1.5 million people are expected to die if the dam breaks.
I mention all this because surely, surely, the Western World can stop these disasters. We have billions to spend on ridiculous wars, after all. America's next president plans to cut taxes for the richest so obviously he has money sloshing about, right? Perhaps tax cuts can wait. Perhaps it would be wiser to save over a million lives in the country America and Britain invaded and threw into chaos with such carelessness. Perhaps that would be the moral thing to do.
As for the di Siena bank, £5 billion would at least buy it time. Given the possible scale of the catastrophe if it collapses, that's worth spending. Britain could do it. What a gesture of support as we leave the EU. And again, there's a moral aspect. I'm not comfortable watching people be impoverished while the elite sits on its hands and does nothing. It makes me think we have the wrong elite.
These disasters are not certain - what is? But they're likely, and we can stop them, and yet I'm almost sure we won't.