The year 2008 will go down in history as being more negative than positive. There were a variety of events around the world that touched the lives of every person no matter how remote in the wilderness they lived.
Going into 2008 the people on the planet were already feeling the sting of high oil prices that would continue to rise for another seven months. Those oil prices were eating away at the global economy sucking up every last Dollar to every last Yen, Peso or whatever. The world was not even aware yet of how bad this would be.
The world was also exposed to the fallout of China’s product quality. From tainted foods looking to place profit before quality, to a seemingly endless supply of quality issues with other exports. This was direct fallout of rising oil prices while trying to keep prices low and not lose market share. Profit was placed first, and the world suffered with deaths and injuries.
The H5N1 bird flu was coming back and the outbreaks were more wide spread than the previous years. There was a fine balancing act of what the public was being told so as not to disclose what was being said behind closed doors. Subtle hints from the WHO telling us one thing, while stories of magic cures were being told by others to stem panic.
It would seem the eyes of the world were focused on who would be the next President of the United States. The connection the world ultimately had with American politics was interesting to observe when not standing on American soil. Many American ex-patriots who left America for whatever reason were keen to see how the world was reacting. In the end the fate of the world now seems to rest on the shoulders of President elect Obama, and that is a tall order no matter how you cut it.
The world was also focused on a bright spot trying to at least for a moment forget the woes of the world. The 2008 Olympic games in China provided a wonderful distraction allowing us to cheer for our own country in world class sporting competition.
2008 was also marred by 2 significant natural disasters in Asia that ended the lives of hundreds of thousands and effected the lives of millions. Burma and China felt the hand of nature as lives were swept away in a tropical cyclone and an earthquake. Extreme weather events around the globe were also racking their collective share of damage to lives and infrastructure.
Also in 2008 several groups of scientists came to the dreadful conclusion that their estimates as to the effect of global warming were 30 or more years off. What they were predicting would happen in 2050 will be going on in 2020 or sooner. The feeling that the tipping point has come is being more substantiated with each passing week. Weather records were not just being broken, they were being shattered.
Dictators and want to be dictators also sprinkled the news. Zimbabwe and their worthless money, Burma and their ruthless killings, and Thailand with a deposed ego driven convicted fugitive Prime Minister who has set about dividing and destroying the country. Tibet also was a major news event that China did it’s best to suppress.
There were also several new species discovered and at least one thought to be extinct surviving in the most remote parts of the world. Several species also became endangered including Polar Bears as the arctic ice retreats as a direct result of global warming.
2008 also saw terrorism in India that captured the eyes of the world. That reminded the world that the war against terrorism is ongoing and that the nuisance of security checkpoints is an unfortunate necessity.
In America the word homeless was being spoken everyday. As unemployment grew The US government dug deep into it’s pockets to start to bailout the failing economy. Other countries around the world did the same. Iceland saw a complete banking collapse as well as other countries just holding on. Stock markets around the world melted and finger pointing was everywhere.
Iran became a global concern with a drive to go nuclear. Their perceived lack of continuity with reality suggested that this is one place that should not be allowed to have the big mushroom sword. The display of distorted views and open aggression to other countries suggested that Iran would strike first, and that could not be allowed to happen.
North Korea seemed to have had a change for the better about mid year, however that now seems to be tied to the health of that countries leader. At the end of the year the trend seemed to be moving backwards back to isolation as North Korea’s leader recovered.
There were also countless acts of bravery, sacrifice and courage that shows as a species there is still hope for the human race despite all our flaws. People going out of their way to help an unknown neighbor dealing with a natural disaster. People with disabilities overcoming their own challenges and inspiring all of us with the truth that no challenge is to big if we focus our positive energy. As a species we still face our greatest challenge and that is to survive ourselves. Perhaps 2009 will be the first time this century we will start to work towards that goal.