10 – Pandemics! (H1N1 Swine flu, SARS, Avian flu)
Never have diseases that killed so few people gotten so many headlines.
9 – The Boxing Day Tsunami
It’s hard not to be cynical, but if the tsunami hadn’t hit on one of the slowest news days of the year, would every TV station have given it the coverage now reserved for Tiger Woods and balloon boys? Regardless, it did. Over 250,000 people died. And over $7 billion was donated to the relief efforts.
8 – Financial Crisis
Nothing like the popping of a stock market bubble to bring the world back to reality after a decade of debt, excess, and wasteful spending. Whether we’re on our way out of the crisis or this is just a false start on the way to recovery, it’s pretty safe to say that nobody learned anything.
7 – Web 2.0
The media has never been quite sure how to report on the Internet but with the arrival of Facebook and Twitter, they’ve certainly jumped on the bandwagon. And it’s not just the stories about these sites, or the stories about when someone does something on one of these sites that actually affects the real world. No, it’s also the showing of Youtube videos on the news, the reading of Twitter comments by anchors (seriously Peter Mansbridge should never say the word “tweet”), and the publishing of website comments in newspapers. We know you don’t get it, but that doesn’t mean it’s interesting. Plus how many people &- especially people watching television – are actually on Twitter?
6 – The election of Barack Obama
His first year in office hasn’t quite produced the transformative change that some of his supporters expected and he’s had his fair share of critics, both sane and ridiculous, but the symbolism of America’s first Black President is impossible to ignore. When it comes to personality, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could be less like George W. Bush, even if his policies haven’t been all that different.
5 – End of Liberal government and the rise of the Conservative minority
Canada’s “natural governing party?” Not anymore. Since the departure of Jean ChrÃ©tien in late 2003, the Liberals have barely been able to keep it together. While ChrÃ©tien led the party for over 13 years &- 10 in government &- his three successors have seen their fortunes sink lower and lower. Despite Liberal ineptitude, Prime Minister Stephan Harper still hasn’t managed to break into Quebec and the big cities where millions of Canadians live.
4 – The rise of China
Twenty years ago we thought they were going to collapse, 10 years ago they were a source of cheap plastic crap. Now, they’re a competitor. In the past decade China has seen massive economic growth, major modernization and one of the most hyped Olympic games ever. Plus they’ve also begun to throw their weight around on the world stage, actively pursuing an increasingly global foreign policy. As China’s demand for oil and foreign markets surges we can expect to see them become even more prominent.
3 – Climate Change
Sure some scientists have been talking about this since the 1950s, but this decade global warming, sorry, climate change and “sustainability,” have become what acid rain was to the early 90s. Not bad, considering that at the beginning of the decade SUVs were still king.
2 – The war in Afghanistan
Nothing like nine years of war to change public perception of Canadian soldiers from peacekeepers to warriors. While few things have divided Canadian’s as much as our country’s biggest military operation since Korea, it has also inspired an enormous outpouring of support for our troops.
1 – 9/11
Like it or not, no single event has had more effect on the events of the past decade than Sept. 11. The terrorist attacks ushered in a decade of patriotism and paranoia that we’re still recovering from. Everything from the War in Afghanistan to the overuse of the word “heroes,” comes back to this.