((2008predictions_include))

Last year I made 20 predictions for 2007 and it brought me nothing but woe and discredit. Yet sadistic Grist higher-ups demand I wade into the forecasting muck again, no doubt insuring further humiliation. (Though not professional censure. Remember, pundits face no penalty for being wrong, only for being shrill.)

This promises to be an especially perilous year for predictions. Much that happened in 2007 seems prelude, setting up events that will unfold in 2008 — the elections, climate and energy legislation, legal battles, all significant and highly fluid. Events of great moment will transpire, but exactly what, well, how the hell should I know.

So I’m going to play it safe and certain: a prediction a day for a week, each with at least 90 percent probability (what IPCC would call "very likely").

1. The U.S. will get a new president.

I’m 98 percent sure on this. (Figure I owe Cheney and Addington 2 percent.) Beyond that is terra incognita. We’re in a humdinger of a presidential primary, as odd and unpredictable as any I can remember (not that I remember that many).

In addition to the uncertainty there is, for me at least, much dread. Time for a serious response to climate change is dwindling. Leadership of the U.S. for the next four years could not be a more momentous matter.

In an unusually strong Democratic field, each of the three frontrunners still has an open shot. (Polls are mixed and inconclusive going into Iowa.) The Republican field is somewhat tragicomic and even more unsettled.

Every narrative about this election has been inoperative by the time the cyber-ink dries, and by now most political prognosticators are simply throwing their hands up and waiting to see what happens. (Perish the thought.)

My unofficial and almost certainly wrong specific prediction: After all the hubbub, it will end up being what everyone originally thought — a Clinton-McCain race. Clinton will win narrowly.