The Chinese New Year begins, officially, on Jan. 23 - when the volatile Dragon will wheel in either good fortune or unleash its darker side! At least, according to astrologer and Feng Shui consultant Raymond Lo, who spoke to the BBC.

The Hong-Kong based consultant does not believe 2012 will be any different from 2011, a year marred by great conflict and disasters. Lo based his predictions on the presence of Water and Earth elements, which are believed to hold significant leverage over the events of the coming year. Moreover, 2012, specifically, is also the Year of the Black Water Dragon; all signs, therefore, point to a strong Water year, which could indicate, Lo believes, disasters like floods. In addition, the Dragon's internal element - Earth - could also lead to earthquakes. In fact, according to Lo, the more serious quakes in the world usually occurred in the years of the Dragon - California and Kamchatka (7.5 and 8.25 on the Richter scale, in 1952); Alaska (9.2 on the Richter scale, in 1964) and, more recently, in Sumatra (7.9 on the Richter scale, in 2000).

Meanwhile, the absence of Fire, which Lo said fueled the stock market, may cause economic activities to slow down in 2012. The Water element, which also represents fear, may cause people to be even less optimistic about many nations' weak financial status and be more cautious with investments.

According to an article written by the consultant, 2012 will also see an increase in health problems such as food poisoning and stomach, kidney and heart ailments.

Industries related to the Wood and Earth elements will fare well this year. However, it will not be a profitable year for water, fire or metal-based industries and other businesses linked to finance, technology, machinery etc.   

On the politics front, Lo talked about the U.S. President, Barack Obama who, as a strong Earth person, will have better luck in the second half of the year. For most other countries, he believes their political scenarios to be quite unstable.

The year, however, will not be completely bad.

There will be presidential elections in the United States, Russia, Taiwan, France and India, as well as the election of Hong Kong's Chief Executive, he said on the publication. So there will be changes bringing about a new phase to the politics of these countries and this is also a sign of bold progress and reform brought about by the powerful ocean water of the year, he added.