There have been reviews aplenty. This one is based on Twenty years to 2020 published in the AFR, with some enhancements.
Bitcoin was born and we had the Black Saturday bushfires. The Copenhagen climate talks failed, ratf*****d by the Chinese, according to Kevin Rudd, who spent the summer break writing a children’s book while Wayne Swan read to Henry Review into taxation.
My wife and I walked the Milford track. 16 year-old Jessica Watson sails around the world. Kevin Rudd squibs a double dissolution election on climate change, and is turfed out in favour of Julia Gillard.
30 asylum seekers drown when their boat crashes into the rocks at Christmas Island.
Scientists develop a functional synthetic genome.
A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hits Christchurch, killing 180. A tsunmami hits Fukushima, blowing up the nuclear plant, killing 15,840. Osama bin Laden is killed, and Qantas grounds its entire fleet in an industrial dispute.
Australia did pass ‘world leading’ climate change legislation, courtesy of the Gillard government, working with the Greens and independents.
The AFR forgot the Brisbane floods, the Toowoomba cloudburst and cyclone Yasi.
Gillard made he famous ‘misogyny speech’, Uber launched in Australia, a Royal commission into child abuse was announced, and Australia introduced plain cigarette packaging.
Not mentioned by the AFR the Bahnisch family had a reunion.
Rudd turfs Gillard out, then loses the election to Tony Abbott, instituting a new dark age which still prevails.
Prince George was born and analog TV was turned off in Oz.
Malaysian Airways flight MH4370 disappeared with 239 people on board, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine with 298 killed, Gough Whitlam died and two hostages and a gunman were killed in the Lindt Cafe siege.
Some of us had a Red Centre holiday and crossed the Simpson Desert.
Also the blog Climate Plus came into being.
The Charlie Hebdo shooting saw 12 killed and the birth of the slogan “Je suis Charlie”.
The Apple watch is launched and Malcolm Turnbull turfs out Tony Abbott.
The Bahnisch family did a trip from Prague to Budapest, via the Danube which ran out of water at Bratislava. Plus various other European places of interest.
Not mentioned by the AFR, but Germany experienced the VW stuff-up, plus absorbed about a million refugees.
Nor did they mention the Paris Agreement on climate change and the death of a bloke called John Malcolm Fraser.
UK votes 51.9% in favour of Brexit.
Augmented reality game Pokemon Go is released.
Donald Trump is elected 45th POTUS.
Women’s march is the largest single-day protest in US history.
Grenfell Tower fire in London kills 72.
GMH ceases manufacturing in Oz.
Same sex marriage is legalised in Oz.
The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Super and Finance Industry makes a stir.
Kim Jong-on crosses into South Korea.
Apple becomes the first trillion dollar company.
Malcolm Turnbull got the chop, making way for Scott Morrison.
Cardinal Pell was found guilty of sexually abusing two boys in 1996.
Scott Morrison wins an election with a little help from Clive Palmer, Bill Shorten and the ALP election team. (There is a rumour that former Greens leader Bob Brown and a coal mine in Central Queensland had an effect.)
Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg inspires the school climate strikes. (Actually that started in 2018, she sailed to New York and addressed the UN in 2019.)
Did they miss any?
Of course any list is somewhat arbitrary. I would have noted the rise of social media other than blogging, which I think dates from around 2012.
Then there was the Me Too movement from 2017.
Also in 2018 there was the Thai cave rescue story, and the Christchurch massacre.
Where are we now?
According to Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens at The Minefield we’ve reached a point where nothing really matters any more. There are no consequences for bad behaviour, truth has no enduring meaning and can be changed with a tweet to become whatever you want.
All that could be changed if we could clone Jacinda Adern and get her to run every country on the planet. In 2019 she brought down a Wellbeing Budget:
After more than a year of curiosity and speculation, New Zealand’s Labour coalition government has unveiled its “world-first” wellbeing budget, to widespread praise from social agencies charged with looking after the country’s most vulnerable people.
The finance minister, Grant Robertson, unveiled billions for mental health services and child poverty as well as record investment in measures to tackle family violence.
“Success is making New Zealand both a great place to make a living, and a great place to make a life,” Robertson told parliament.
He said many New Zealanders were not benefiting from a growing economy in their daily lives, and this year’s budget had been designed to address the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots.
What will 2020 bring?
We’d best not talk about climate change here or we’ll never finish.
I don’t think killing Major General Qassem Soleimani of Iran was a smart move. After Iran did a deal with Obama on nukes the country could have pursued peace and prosperity, one would think. What happened was anything but. However, killing a military leader is unlikely to be followed by an outbreak of peace and love.
Now if Iran misbehaves Trump has threatened 52 strikes, including cultural sites, normally classified as a war crime.
Apart from that, any given year usually brings forth something entirely unexpected.
The New Scientist has a short article suggesting that facial recognition technology will be big, and on another front research on human origins may produce a more settled view on how we evolved from being just another ape.
Then medical research is on the threshold of producing two drugs which may make ageing redundant.
One new drug clears out “senescent” cells out of the brain. The second drug mimics the transfusion of young blood “which has been shown to increase cognition in animals and reduce biomarkers for cancer and heart disease.
They are about to enter phase 3 trials, but could be sold as al-purpose rejuvenation therapies by the end of the decade.
Probably too late for me, and that might be just as well!
The New Scientist asserts that most of us are materially better off, but that puts no price on ‘nature’ and the environment. As top predator we are still on a classic path of a plague species heading for a population crash.
Happy new year!