It seems that every year of the new millennium great events have taken place; Little perhaps the magnitude of September 11, 2001 or the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, but still, here are the ten biggest and most memorable events of the MMIX year (so far), in reverse order:
July 22: The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century takes place
Lasting six minutes and 38 seconds, this was the second of three (the first and third were smaller penumbral lunar eclipses) in one month and was observed by millions in China, Japan, Nepal and India. The next solar eclipse of comparable size will occur beyond our time in 2132.
January 20 – President Barack Obama takes over as the 44th president of the United States.
Heralding a new hope, President Obama takes office amid the uncertainty surrounding the global financial crisis. His motto, “Yes, we can” is appropriate; He seems like the man of the moment for a moment like this.
March 3 – Gunmen attack bus carrying international cricketers from Sri Lanka; eight people die
It is not a major terrorist event, but it is significant by virtue of the objective. International teams now receive more alerts when traveling to hot spots around the world.
February 7 – The Black Saturday wildfires kill 173 people and leave 7,500 homeless in Victoria, Australia.
A surprisingly devastating set of weather conditions and a combination of deliberately and electrically ignited fires sparks unprecedented fire emergencies across the state. The event transforms Australian culture towards wildfires from generally lax to vigilant almost overnight, such was the depth of the human tragedy experienced. The national response to the plight of the victims through charity is an unprecedented success.
May 25: North Korea announces that it has conducted its second successful nuclear weapons test.
This was a significant event from the perspective of future peace and sustainability of the world and the diplomatic unity of the major countries. North Korea continues to defy international conventions and arrogantly presents itself as one of the key dictatorial and recalcitrant countries of the 21st century.
September 29-30: Tsunamis off Samoa and Sumatra kill more than 1,000 people and destroy critical infrastructure
After the 2004 Boxing Day tsunamis, there is an increased awareness of the cost and scope of tsunamis in terms of human tragedy. Fortunately, this was next to nothing compared to the 2004 event in terms of human losses, where more than 300,000 are believed to have lost their lives.
June 1: Air France Flight 447 flying from Brazil plunges into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 228 people.
Mystery surrounded this event for days and still does. Only 51 bodies of the 228 dead have been recovered and the black box flight data recorder has not been found either, which significantly precludes the investigation.
April 24 – The World Health Organization is concerned about the initial outbreak of influenza (later known as swine flu [H1N1])
It was later considered a global pandemic on June 11. Although this pandemic was the first of its kind since the Hong Kong strain in 1967/68, its virulence was less than expected, although many lost their lives and millions suffered from a very debilitating influenza.
November 25: Rumors begin to circulate about Tiger Woods’ extramarital affairs
Nobody likes to see a superstar, especially one with an image as sleek and clean as Tiger had, sink and lose an incredible amount of credibility, destroying his reputation, but this has happened. This event awakens a world of popular and media interest, inappropriate humor, and condemnation.
June 25: death of the “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson.
For much of the world, this was a shocking and horribly sad ending for the King of Pop, who was wrapping up his rehearsals for “This Is It,” his fifty London shows, the backdrop to his musical career. The event of his death report and the subsequent memorial service (July 7) drove Internet traffic to unprecedented levels – an electronic tsunami.
So, there we have it: a great year in anyone’s language. What’s in store for us in 2010, aside from changing our naming convention for the year? (that is, instead of two thousand nine / ten, we will start calling subsequent years from now twenty-ten, and so on).
Will there be a more massive or catastrophic natural disaster and, more specifically, will we be prepared? (Can we be ready?) Which famous people will die? Will there be a key murder? Will the world sink into “electronic darkness” for a time?
Everything remains to be seen.
© 2009 SJ Wickham.
Data source: “2009”. Wikipedia, Accessed December 10, 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009