It seems every year of the new millennium has seen some huge events occur; little perhaps of the magnitude of September 11, 2001 or the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, but still, here are the ten biggest, most memorable events of the year MMIX (so far), in reverse order:
July 22 – 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 more minor penumbral lunar) eclipses in one month and it was observed by millions over China, Japan, Nepal and India. The next comparably-sized solar eclipse will occur beyond our time in 2132.
January 20 – President Barack Obama is inaugurated 44th President of the USA
Heralding a new hope, President Obama comes into office amid depths of uncertainty surrounding the Global Financial Crisis. His slogan, ‘Yes, we can,’ is apt; he’s appears the man of the hour for such a time as this.
March 3 – Gunmen attack a bus carrying Sri Lankan international cricketers; eight people are killed
Not a large terrorist event but one that was significant by virtue of the target. International teams are now put on further notice as they travel to the world’s trouble spots.
February 7 – The Black Saturday bushfires kill 173 people and leave 7,500 homeless in Victoria, Australia
A shockingly devastating set of climatic conditions and a combination of electrically and deliberately lit fires spark unprecedented fire emergencies throughout the State. The event transforms the Australian culture toward bushfire from generally lax to vigilant almost overnight such was the depth of human tragedy experienced. The national response to the plight of the victims via charity is an unprecedented success.
May 25 – North Korea announces it has conducted its second successful nuclear weapon test
This was a significant event from the perspective of the future peace and sustainability of the world and major country diplomatic unity. North Korea continues to defy international convention and arrogantly sets itself as one of the key dictator and recalcitrant countries of the 21st Century.
September 29 & 30 – Tsunamis off Samoa and Sumatra kill over 1,000 people and destroy critical infrastructure
After the Boxing Day tsunamis of 2004 there is heightened awareness of the cost and scope of tsunami events in terms of human tragedy. This was fortunately almost nothing in comparison to the 2004 event in terms of human loss, where over 300,000 are thought to have lost their lives.
June 1 – Air France Flight 447 flying from Brazil plunges into the Atlantic Ocean killing 228
Mystery surrounded this event for days after and it still does. Only 51 bodies of the 228 killed have been recovered and the black box flight data recorder has also not been found, precluding the investigation significantly.
April 24 – The World Health Organization is concerned at the initial outbreak of Influenza (later known as Swine Flu [H1N1])
This was later deemed a global pandemic on June 11. Although this pandemic was the first of its order since the Hong Kong strain in 1967/68 its virulence was less than expected though many lost their lives and millions suffered a very debilitating influenza.
November 25 – Rumours begin to circulate about Tiger Woods’ extramarital affairs
No one likes to see a superstar, especially one with such a slick and clean image as Tiger had, plunge and lose an amazing amount of credibility, destroying his reputation—but this has happened. This event sparks a world of media and popular interest, inappropriate humour and condemnation.
June 25 – the death of “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson
For much of the world this was a shocking and horrifically sad end to the King of Pop, who was concluding his rehearsals of “This Is It,” his fifty London shows, the curtain call of his musical career. The event of the reporting of his death and the later memorial service (July 7) pushed internet traffic to unprecedented levels—an electronic tsunami.
So, there we have it—a big year in anyone’s language. What lies ahead in 2010, apart from changing our naming convention of the year? (i.e. instead of two-thousand-and-nine/ten we’ll start to call the years proceeding from now, twenty-ten, and so forth.)
Will there be a more massive or catastrophic natural disaster—and more to the point, will we be ready? (Can we be ready?) Which famous figures will die? Will there be a key assassination? Will the world be plunged for a time into ‘electronic darkness?’
It all remains to be seen.
© 2009 S. J. Wickham.
Source data: “2009.” Wikipedia, Retrieved 10 December 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009