Beauty and danger

That’s the thing about the part of one of the most beautiful places on this planet, where I happen to live. This post will show you some of it today – a rather rare, so far, glorious summer’s day.

As for the world – well then. This blog will let the politicians root themselves this year. They’ll do it anyway, but I don’t care to comment or participate in this forum any longer. Why bother? As for the past year, I remain unromantic about the #Occupy movement, which is not to say I disagree with it all. I think Gwynne Dyer rather summed up much that I think – coincidentally of course – in a column also published in The Illawarra Mercury. Do read it.

And so to the really bad news. The Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than even the pessimists feared, massive floods are devastating huge areas (Pakistan, Thailand, Australia), and sea level is rising at twice the predicted speed, but nothing will be done about it for the next 10 years. That, effectively, was the decision – or rather, the nondecision – taken at the annual climate change summit in Durban in December.

Everything else that happened in 2011 was very small potatoes, but some of it was very interesting.

Three bad men died, two of them violently: North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, and al-Qaeda’s founder Osama bin Laden. Four Latin American countries – Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru – elected new presidents. Five African countries – Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Zambia – achieved higher economic growth rates than Brazil (though that was partly due to higher commodity prices).

An earthquake and tsunami devastated a large area of northern Japan, and the radioactive emissions from damaged nuclear reactors – about one-tenth of what came out of Chernobyl in 1986 – caused a global minipanic. But in the end, the only country that announced a plan to shut down its reactors was Germany.

American troops finally left Iraq in December, still insisting that they had accomplished their mission, whatever it was. NATO deployed its air power to help the rebels win in Libya, but it isn’t going to in Syria. And the final shuttle flight from Cape Canaveral went into orbit in July.

There were widespread riots in England in August, and the “Occupy” movement spread across the United States like measles (and went away almost as quickly). They were both really about the growing gap between the rich and the poor, but they had as little visible impact on how governments do business as anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare’s televised hunger strike in India.

That’s it. No more from me.

Instead enjoy the following… What a grand day it has been.