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Reviewing 2009 and embracing 2010
Posted: Tuesday, December 29, 2009

By Derren Joseph
December 29, 2009

Perhaps you feel the same as I do? It does feel as if time itself sped up. The year 2009 passed so quickly. My high school history teacher, Mr Llewellyn "Short Pants" McIntosh used to say something about understanding the past being important to creating a better future. So, before jumping into 2010, I thought it would be interesting to review 2009. Before going into our local highlights, let us first look internationally. The year 2009 begun on January 20th, with the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama. That was merely the beginning for, arguably, the world's biggest celebrity. President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, invited a police officer over for a beer, spent much of the year negotiating with Congress over health care reform measures, and had to deal with gate-crashers (or "stormers," as we say here).

As usual, there was no shortage of celebrity headlines. We finished the year with Tiger Woods, but there was also Chris Brown/Rihanna, Kanye West/Taylor Swift, and, of course, there was Susan Boyle. Across the world, we mourned the loss of Michael Jackson; we expressed disappointment at the greed symbolised by Bernie Madoff/Allen Stanford, and we all felt the impact of the global economic slowdown. This slowdown saw large companies buckle under pressure before going, cap in hand, to their respective governments for help. The number of cynics who doubted the hype around the Internet decreased, as the Web became a more integral part of every-day life. So much so, that some countries sought to control access to the Web by its citizens.

There was also the spectre of swine flu which, most sadly, claimed many lives, but nowhere near what was originally feared. Thank God!

This month saw the debate over climate change climax with the world summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was a summit that many would argue was more about politics and economics than about actual measures to address concerns over climate change. This was an issue made even more complex by e-mails leaked from a world-renowned climate research unit which suggested that climate change was not being driven by human activity. Moving from the international to the local scene, aside from crime, many headlines were devoted to the two world summits hosted by us on this tiny island: the Fifth Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Our football team may have made us shed a tear, but our cricket team made us jump up and cheer! Politically, the debate over constitutional and local government reform continued—as did the debate over the aluminium smelter. Economic challenges saw our largest conglomerate, CL Financial, accept a government bailout. Finally, our nation's love for the Internet saw us achieving a high rank globally, for our adult entertainment searches. We also found the time to spread/view videos of a former beauty queen. So that's it for 2009. Now it is time to look forward to—and embrace—2010. There are three things that make me feel positive about 2010. First, there is the growing consciousness, not just locally, but internationally, on issues of climate change.

Particularly, there is an unprecedented sensitivity to the way in which our behaviour affects the environment in which we live today and which our children will inherit. Regardless of how we personally feel about the smelter issue, for example, I personally feel proud that citizens are concerned about our environment and feel strongly enough to voice these concerns. Second, in a world where apathy seems to be all too frequent, I feel encouraged when I see so many groups being formed locally. I am seeing a renewed sense of patriotism by the growing numbers of highly-educated young people. They are vocal and stress the need for greater engagement by decision-makers. Our future looks very bright. Third, the so-called "green shoots" continue to suggest that the worse of the economic downturn is behind us.

The pessimists, who almost celebrated what they saw as a coming global economic collapse, are groaning with disappointment. As I write this column, oil is about $73 per barrel, which is high enough to help energy-producing nations "without damaging the global economic recovery" (Business Week). Recent announcements from the chief economist at the Asian Development Bank, the chief for global economic monitoring at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and IMF spokeswoman, Caroline Atkinson, have all been cautiously optimistic, as we look forward to 2010.

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