2020 has been an unforgettable year. Governments, communities and families have endured exceptional struggles and demonstrated resilience during the toughest of times. People have united in the face of fear and uncertainty to support the heroes of our society: from the UK’s key workers, to the frontline firefighters and the relentless activists against racism. The year has been dominated by the largest global catastrophe since WW2 but that has not impeded the occurrence of some of the most significant events in political, social and environmental history.
Covid-19 ruined everyone's plans
January seems almost laughable now, whilst we watched as Wuhan battled an unknown virus, all relieved that it wasn’t us. How wrong we were. Nearly 1.5 million cases, over 60,000 deaths, and two lockdowns later, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible, with the UK being the first country in the world now delivering vaccinations. Who would have imagined that out of a new decade would rise a deadly and debilitating dictator? This silent presence has consumed societies, economies and communities, creating global heartache on an unprecedented scale.
Victory of the Blues
Following election day on 3 November, the world was on tenterhooks as the race to the Whitehouse was underway. By 6 November, Joe Biden was able to address his nation with confidence that he would be the next president of the United States. Meanwhile Donald Trump was making empty accusations of voting fraud and tweeting like there was no tomorrow, before he retreated to the comfort of his golf course. The last four years have seen Trump become one of the most divisive figures in history with America facing civil unrest on a scale not seen for decades. Let’s hope that Biden can reunite the United States of America.
Black Lives Matter
In response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis at the hands of the police on 25 May, millions of people have taken to the streets and the Black Lives Matter movement has gained more traction than ever before on a global scale. Although it may seem that racism is the US’s problem, the UK is also guilty with racism existing in almost undetectable microaggressions, white fragility, and white privilege. George Floyd was not the first to die at the hands of the police. Breonna Taylor, Walter Scott, and Tamir Rice are just three more people whose lives were cut short, but even their deaths barely scratch the surface of the issue. When will Black Lives Matter to everyone?
Deal or No Deal?
After one of the most shambolic periods in our government’s history, the 31 January saw the United Kingdom finally leave the European Union and enter a transition period which ends on 31 December 2020. With this date now looming, the news is peppered with ‘last minute talks’ and ‘negotiations with Brussels’. Four years and two prime ministers later, we’re still arguing with France over fish. Will there ever be a conclusion to this confusion?
Early January saw the Australian bush lit red, and not in celebration of the new decade. Wildfires raged through New South Wales and Victoria causing widespread devastation across an area of more than 11 million hectares (the size of more than half of England). This was a result of the climate crisis increasing the likelihood of extreme drought and soaring temperatures, causing both states to declare a state of emergency by 3 January. Wildfires are a necessary natural event for many parts of the world but in recent years, these are increasing in extremity, covering wider areas, and becoming more aggressive and prolonged.
It is hard to believe that in this day and age, the people of Beirut had been living alongside a lethal ticking time bomb, capable of killing 204 people and flattening the port within seconds as it did on 4 August. The explosion was caused by a fire triggering the explosion of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in the port. An act of carelessness which resulted in disaster and rocked the city, changing some people’s lives forever.
Love prevails in Costa Rica
26 May was a momentous moment in the fight for equality as Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to legalize same sex marriage. After the court ruled that a ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional in August 2018, the law was finally changed, and from midnight the first happy couples were able to tie the knot.
Harvey Weinstein is convicted
Widely known as the (former) ‘Hollywood mogul’, Weinstein is yet another powerful man who exploited his position and abused the women within his grasp. He was charged with five counts of sexual assault in March and sentenced to 23 years in prison. A further six charges have since surfaced, some committed over a decade ago. Needless to say, his position upon the Hollywood podium has disintegrated as he was sacked by the board of his own company and stripped of his honorary CBE. The strength needed for these women to speak up after so many years is extraordinary, and perhaps they can feel that justice has finally been served.
Tackling the Climate Crisis
As part of a ten-point plan to tackle the climate crisis in the UK, on 18 November Boris Johnson announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. This will create a major advancement in the effort to shift from oil run to carbon neutral vehicles, retaining some of the dwindling carbon budget. Through the irresponsible procrastination of global governments, this silent killer is beginning to make itself known. From the intense 38° British summers to lethal wildfires destroying parts of Australia, Brazil and America like never before, this invisible disaster is simultaneously no one and everyone’s fault.
Harry and Meghan split from Royal Family
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex officially stepped down as senior royals on the 31st of March, and is it any wonder? Meghan in particular has been scrutinised by the press since the start of her relationship with Harry, and perhaps decided that she wanted to protect her young son from this toxic limelight. The couple are working to become financially independent, splitting their time between Canada and the UK in continued support of Her Majesty the Queen. However, they did fail to consult anyone at the palace before their announcement, which reportedly neither the Queen nor Prince William were particularly pleased about.
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