WE tremble a little on the cusp of 2024 – proliferating wars, runaway technology, extreme weather, Scotland competing in the Euros.

But as many of the establishment pundits are already saying, this coming year will see a majority of the planet living in countries holding national elections. Does that mean our collective fate lies in we, the people’s hands?

Define “elections”, though. In Russia, Rwanda, Belarus? Those incumbent oligarchs’ votes are weighed, not counted. The majority of the planet’s plebiscites next year are in Asia – but Modi’s potential re-election in India promises more Hindu chauvinism, Indonesia’s government is becoming dynastic, and Bangladesh already squashes dissent and arrests its opposition leaders.

And lest we forget, two American geriatrics will likely be up for re-election in November 2024.

A months-long horror show of state-of-the-art campaigning awaits us. Most experts are anticipating this will be the “deep fake/AI election”, where subtle digital falsehoods and simulations capture the mindshare of Americans.

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Maybe so – but liberal Hollywood won’t be missing its targets. The brilliant sci-fi maker Alex Garland’s movie Civil War (out April 26) depicts a US torn apart by regional discord. The trailer is juddering and shocking, the movie seems cautionary and well-timed.

(By the way, insurrection is the canary loudly cheeping in the media’s coalmine. Next year the BBC release The Way, about civil uprising in an industrial town, written by James Graham, Michael Sheen and documentary maker Adam Curtis.) Perhaps more than ever we need countries to observe the original 12-day “truce” that the Olympics offered.

Paris’s insouciant 2024 hosting of the mega-event will ring some changes. The athletes won’t parade through a stadium but along a cleansed River Seine; the games will conclude not with the men’s marathon but the women’s; and the Games’ village will regenerate Seine-Saint-Denis, a deprived Parisian zone.

(I note that surfing is now an Olympic event. So it’s lucky for Scotland, in terms of future competitions, that our first-ever artificial surfing lagoon – called the Lost Shore – opens in Edinburgh’s Craigpark Quarry, just after the Games. Shouting “surf’s up in Ratho!” will surely add to the general gaiety).

Yet as ever in this antithetical century, we raise our ideals – in this case, health through athleticism – then weirdly subvert them. For example, effective diet drugs are predicted to make a major breakthrough in 2024 (the demand is there: 1.1 billion people are officially obese).

We know that Wegovy (or semaglutinide) has been recently successful, with its capacity to suppress hunger in the body and the brain. It may gar you grue, as an indy supporter, to know that this drug (made by Novo Nordisk) added 1.7% to Danish GDP: they’re bringing out a daily oral tablet next year. Pop a pill to resist that fish-supper, as opposed to pulling on running shoes? How twenties.

As predicting a year goes, you can’t deny that rocket launches are always pretty solidly scheduled. It’s especially notable when they’re aimed to bring the news that puts all other news into context – searching for forms of organic life beyond earth.

In October, Nasa will launch Europa Clipper, which will investigate whether Europa, one of Jupiter’s largest moons, has underground oceans containing alien life (India’s Shukrayaan probe will do the same for the atmosphere of Venus).

If they find something, then life is maybe ubiquitous in the cosmos, and we better get ready to hear from them. If they find nothing, then the suspicion grows that we’re a rarity in a barren universe, and should take a lot better care of ourselves and the planet.

Any advance on the latter front? Well, once we get out the way of Armando Iannucci’s stage adaptation of Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove (coming in the autumn, starring Steve Coogan), we can perhaps look for some wise climate regulation.

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THERE is some coming. The United Nations’s “plastic pollution treaty” will conclude negotiations by the end of the year, in Nairobi, Kenya. This aims at a “legally binding agreement to tackle and regulate the design, production and disposal of plastics”. Inger Andersen, the director of the UN Environment Programme, has described it as “the most important green pact since the 2015 Paris climate accord”.

As power blocs reformulate themselves, and individual nations opportunistically realign, it’s good to see the UN generally stepping up. One example is September’s “Summit of the Future”, which will consider “reform of multilateral bodies” to better tackle topics like climate and AI.

The “big picture” also pertains to the big cinematic pictures in 2024. There’s no doubt what the movie event of the year should be – and that’s Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, likely to be launched at the Cannes Film Festival.

Financed entirely by the director himself, it’s his unique vision of a devastated New York, rebuilt in a utopian form by a visionary architect (played by Adam Driver). We hope to learn lessons – the preambles to the movie have shown Coppola pouring in all his intellect and sensibility.

But movieland is strongly in a “prepare for the future” moment. Mickey 17 stars Robert Pattinson as an expendable employee clone. Mad Max gets a prequel, Furiosa, set in the world as it falls into that familiar ruin. Netflix has adapted Liu Cixin’s award-winning novel The Three-Body Problem, which ponders over how we’ll deal with communications from deep space.

And if you’re wondering if Scotland ever gets into the future-verse, you may enjoy Alice Lowe’s new movie, Timestalker. The writer and director plays Agnes, who keeps being reincarnated and then badly falling in love – from 17th-century Scotland, through 1980s Manhattan to a post-apocalyptic 22nd century.

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Meantime, the next major movie from Scottish director Lynne Ramsay is Polaris, starring Joaquin Phoenix as an ice-photographer who meets the devil. This seems like preparation for her long-awaited version of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, which Ramsay reports will be “set in space”.

Scottish fiction has some obvious highlights. Andrew O’Hagan’s Caledonian Road (Faber, April) sounds like his voyage round Martin Amis Land. A middle-aged London-Scots haute-intellectual is reputationally destroyed by a youthful chancer. Val McDermid has been assigned to render, in novel form, the anti-patriarchal voice and mind of Lady Macbeth (Birlinn, May). And Glasgow author Madeline Docherty’s Gender Theory (John Murray, June) promises to be the year’s youth-out-of-control fable.

Pop-and-rock wise, we will experience the descending mothership of Taylor Swift on Murrayfield, Edinburgh in June, alongside Doja Cat at the OVO Hydro in Glasgow. Same town the following month, some vintage groove will be provided by Fatboy Slim at SWG3.

And as for records, standing like an obelisk before us will be a new album from The Jesus and Mary Chain, Glasgow Eyes. If we see light after that, all will be well. Or it may be the soundtrack that our imminent – and dismal – UK General Election needs.

And finally: we were promised jetpacks, certainly by 2024. But you’ll be glad to hear that an electric flying taxi, named Volocopter, will be given regulatory approval this summer in France.

Something for super-elites to occupy as they cruise over the seething masses, projecting objects upwards? Or just another techno-aristocratic taste that eventually works its way downwards and outwards?

The future’s not ours to see … but at least I tried. Have a powerful, meaningful and beautiful 2024, folks.