2015 forecasts, energy or otherwise: OK enough of those stupid $^%*#@ things


So many predictions, what to do…

While surfing the web at this time of year, or maybe a newspaper if you somehow haven’t warmed up to that thing yet, it’s not hard to find a glut of headlines featuring all sorts of forecast as to what the world will look like in the coming year. Any crazy thing you can think of, and then some, someone out there is pretty certain he/she knows how much of it is going to happen.

Being in the energy business, maybe I see more of these forecasts than most, because almost everyone except homeless people feel the need to predict anything related to energy (and maybe they do as well, I’m going to pay more attention to that graffiti) – petroleum prices, gasoline demand, production levels, oil in tanks at Cushing Oklahoma (seriously, that is on the minds of some less-well-rounded people out there…) you name it. Someone feels the need to go on record, maybe on the off chance that they turn out right. And the media lunges at these wild guesses for some reason that is inexplicable to me, as if every other previous attempt at predictions was ridiculous but this one is really on to something. Even a change in next year’s forecasts makes big headlines. The headline says US energy watchdog slashes demand. Actually, it didn’t (a watchdog can’t slash demand anyway except for what it consumes as a watchdog, so that headline doesn’t even make sense), what it did slash was its estimate of how much demand would grow next year. Not shrinking demand, notice, just reduced growth. Which is a totally different message than implied by the headline.

Hey look, I really try to keep this website positive and not get wound up about little things. The web is full of that nonsense. That’s why we try to attach so many pretty pictures up, to soothe my frantic and petty nerves. But irritation pops through now and then, especially when some crazy things keep cropping up that are distracting and harmful, and no one wants to talk about that. Why does this weirdness persist year after year? It takes very little investigation to find out that these forecasts are pretty much worthless, and what’s even more telling is that almost no one can be bothered to go back and check last year’s to see if they were even remotely close. No, we just sit bolt upright in our chairs at the sight of a terrifying headline, or slump back in our chair, soothed at the sight of a comforting one. The rosy link mentioned here even shows a beautiful double rainbow image just to really convince you how rosy things are. Everything but a unicorn dancing on one.

These headlines aren’t terribly helpful, they pretty much just echo various trends that have been happening over the past few months, which as you can see can lead to totally opposing conclusions. Of course it’s easy to say why they’re wrong, it’s obvious why they’re wrong – they’re predictions and no one knows the future (though my horoscope was so spookily correct I’m starting to think twice…). But the point or the question is, why does everyone keep doing it, why do people keep reading them, and why does everyone repeat the cycle of panicking/forgetting?

Don’t look at me, I don’t have an answer. I’m just here to tell you that you can safely ignore all the arm waving.

I’m not a big believer in new years resolutions, but here’s a good one to contemplate. Ignore most predictions! Or keep them in perspective as random guesses. Some people get happy when they roll dice and 8 comes up. I don’t understand that either, but treat it the same way.

Here’s some new years advice and a “prediction” for 2015: 95% of the forecasts you read will be dead wrong, a few will be randomly close to right, and almost none will predict the really big sequences of events that will shape the year. It will do you no good to pay attention to any of them. Even this one, I’m sure 95% will be incorrect. Don’t get too depressed by the bad predictions, don’t get too excited over the positive ones, and just position yourself to do ok in as many circumstances as possible. A lot of weird and unexpected stuff will happen in 2015 that will drive other weird and unexpected stuff; keep your nose clean, be good to each other and try to enjoy the ride.

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