Last year’s awfulness probably would’ve been easier to handle if we had just seen the disasters coming. So, to help you brace against whatever 2021 brings, we talked with experts about what to anticipate. The good news? It can only get better from here.

January: Rise of the Machines
Robots of the immediate future will be more WALL-E than The Matrix, according to Kerstin Haring, director of the Humane Robotics Technology Laboratory at the University of Denver. In other words, instead of turning humans into AAA batteries, “[robots] will be used for very simple tasks, like delivery,” she says. A pair of machines created by California company Kiwibot are already dropping off burritos on the DU campus, and you’ll likely see more of their kind feeding our dining-in needs over the next few months.

April: The Beginning of the End of the Pandemic
At press time, Colorado was set to receive its first round of COVID-19 vaccinations in mid-December. As people receive inoculations, it’s possible Denver could begin seeing early signs of its “old normal” by springtime. “We will still have many public health measures with us for some time, though,” says Dr. John Hammer, an infectious disease specialist at Rose Medical Center. Translation: Some fans may get to sit in the stands for Rockies opening day, but they’ll still have to wear masks and social distance.

July-August: High and Dry
It’s not all good news in 2021, as the state’s prolonged drought will likely continue even if Colorado experiences more precipitation this winter. “One rainy year isn’t going to fix our problems,” says Erin Overturf, deputy director of the Clean Energy Program at Western Resource Advocates. That means more massive wildfires during late summer and a difficult season for farmers and ranchers on the Western Slope, which has seen some of the largest temperature increases in the country during the past few years.

November: A New Way to Police
Denise Maes, public policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, says local municipalities across the state, including Boulder, Aurora, and Denver, are considering ways to restructure law enforcement following last summer’s protests against police brutality. Denver and Aurora have even introduced pilot programs that divert some noncriminal 911 calls to mental health professionals and paramedics. By next fall, cities could be planning to permanently fund the initiatives.

This article was originally published in 5280 January 2021.
Shane Monaghan
Shane Monaghan
Shane Monaghan is the former digital editor of and teaches journalism at Regis Jesuit High School.