What if 2012 produced no new wars and saw existing conflicts all wind down to a negotiated peace?
That would take an aroused global public to push hard on both governments and the private sector (e.g., requiring the global defense industry and energy and natural resources companies' full cooperation) to take effective measures to curb or stop conflicts. Their incentive? No one can afford the cost of these conflicts in human or material terms. For defense and natural resources industries, certain areas in conflict can be placed off limits by multinational governmental bodies.
What if the current $5 billion-$6 billion US election cycle was fought over reform in financing of essential services like education, infrastructure and health care? What if the results went heavily in favor of fixing all three areas with fresh faces and creative minds coming to government work? What if people compared the $3 trillion - $4 trillion in the projected eventual costs for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to what those sums might underwrite making this country more livable?
What if Mother Earth had an off-year with fewer natural disasters? Maybe luck wins out and the worst climate change-related scenarios give us a year off [It's my dream, after all] so we can work on repairing damage caused by the unremitting catastrophes which struck so many places over the past 2 years? Recovery and mitigation of the effects of future disasters are not a short term project for a "charity-du-jour" or an opportunistic faith-healer re-directing his fund raising acumen, but require a commitment by competent groups both inside a disaster-struck country and from the wider world. Once upon a time (March 31, 2009 at the United Nations Pledging Conference on Haiti) there was $9.9 billion pledged to help Haiti recover from its massive quake; that only a bit over $1.5 billion ever arrived, has never been truthfully explained. [hint: UN Pledging conferences almost never fulfill pledges made by governments and major NGOs -- they are cosmetic exercises].
So, 2012 -- no new wars, no new natural disasters, and, for once, a substantive US election cycle bringing competence and new ideas to the fore. "But it's the economy, stupid!" may trump it all...
Happy New Year.