A lthough the past does not guarantee future outcomes, 2011 events may give an idea about 2012.

For example: Based on the failure of the Durban conference on climate change to require implementation of any still undefined steps before 2020, it’s likely the earth will continue growing hotter.

In addition, the number of extreme weather events will likely increase.

Given how heated the upcoming 2012 election will probably be, political decisions during the year will likely be even more bitterly contested. For example, the payroll tax bill that President Obama just signed was passed at the last minute, after a protracted battle. The struggle over this bill with its two-month extension of the existing situation suggests an even more heated battle over these issues early in 2012.

This payroll tax bill also included a requirement that the administration make a decision within 60 days about the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would bring tar sands crude from Canada to Texas refineries. Obama had initially called for more study and for a decision after the 2012 election. Activists for climate change staunchly oppose the extraction and use of tar sands crude due to the concomitant huge increase in greenhouse gases whereas pipeline supporters claim that the pipeline will create 20,000 jobs. The earlier date means that whatever the decision, it can be used in campaign ads.

The protest movements here and around the world will likely continue. The Arab Spring and the large protests in Wisconsin demonstrated the desire of people for justice and human rights.

The Occupy movement resulted from the growing realization that our economic/political system is incredibly rigged.

People in several European nations continue protests against austerity plans imposed at the behest of the financial markets that the people bailed out. Russians are protesting problematic elections. Japanese protested against nuclear power and the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima disaster.

People around the world have found their voices and won’t be silenced in their demands for human rights. It’s essential that we continue work on these existing injustices and flawed policies. Meanwhile we must stop another unnecessary and illegal war, this time against Iran.

We also must quickly control the financial system before it takes us from a Great Recession to a second Great Depression. Don’t give up — together we can make 2012 a better year!