2010 Year-end reviews and reports

Written by  //  January 21, 2011  //  Government & Governance  //  1 Comment

Why Do We Need Predictions?
(NYT) Even though prognostications turn out to be wrong as often as they are right, why do they have such enduring appeal? What purpose have they served, from ancient times to our information age?

Apocalypse sooner or later adds entertainment to the generally serious tone of the predictions for 2011, even if the focus is on debunking the hysteria generated among some groups regarding the demise of the world in 2012, according to interpretations of the Mayan calendar. The author, Linda Morris, presents some good arguments based on historical precedents.

North America’s Environmental Outlook: Nine Topics to Watch for 2011 and Beyond
New report released today by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) examines the major forces and underlying trends likely to shape the environment of North America in 2030 and outlines nine areas where decisions today will affect our environmental future in varying degrees.
The nine areas to watch fall under three categories:

Greatest potential for impact by 2030
Energy use and associated emissions, especially from transportation and buildings
Water use and treatment of wastewater

Most significant coming changes

Continued and accelerated warming, especially in the Arctic
Continued loss of terrestrial biodiversity
Persistent ground-level ozone in urban areas

Issues deserving greater attention
Growth in urban and built-up land area
Freshwater quality and groundwater availability and quality
The specific economic and health effects of environmental change
The impact of consumption in North America on the environment in other regions and vice versa

The world in 2011: a look at the year ahead
(Global Post) The New Year is a time for predictions, so here are a few for 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama will not earn his Nobel Peace Prize retroactively by bringing peace to the Middle East this year. Israel will not halt its settlement activity, and the Palestinians will not enter serious negotiations.

29 December 2010
David Rothkopf*: Bet on it: A look at the absolute certainties of 2011
… even very serious types like commentators and still grave but less credible types like bloggers regularly mark the holiday in ways that make them bigger laughingstocks than the insurance salesmen with lampshades on their heads who made the holiday famous: They make predictions.
Invariably the predictions do not come true.
… in an effort to avoid the kind of pitfalls of which I am critical, I will skip right over the dubious maybes of most pundits and cut right to what you want to know the most: I will list only those things that are absolutely certain to happen in 2011.
*David Rothkopf is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and President and CEO of Garten Rothkopf.

2010 “Person” of the Year: The U.S. Supreme Court
It’s difficult to look beyond the tumult of current events and ask: “what happened this year that will be remembered ten, twenty, or fifty years from now?” However, there was one 2010 event that looms above the others: the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court Decision. That decision signifies a new phase of American history — the Corporatist period where multinational corporations have unbridled political influence to systematically and profoundly weaken our democracy.

2010: The year of the unconventional
By Lionel Barber
(FT) By any measure, 2010 was the year when conventional wisdom was challenged, redefined or comprehensively overturned. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition assumed power in Britain and the sky did not fall in; the eurozone ceased being a shelter and became a source of instability; Barack Obama succeeded where so many had failed and pushed through healthcare and financial services reform; Silvio Berlusconi survived a string of sex scandals; Tony Blair, reputedly one of the most hated men in Britain, wrote a best-selling memoir; and Qatar, an up-and-coming oil-rich emirate, won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, alongside a Russian bid for 2018 that saw off England.

2011 to be a busy year for the UN
The United Nations faces a tough slate of issues to contend with in 2011 such as tensions on the Korean Peninsula, an independence referendum and continued Darfur violence in Sudan, indictments expected from the probe into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and ongoing political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire. At the UN itself, the Security Council will contend with new non-permanent members India and South Africa seeking permanent seats, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon may seek re-election for another term at the helm of the world body. ForeignPolicy.com/Turtle Bay blog (12/29)

Bet on it: A look at the absolute certainties of 2011
… even very serious types like commentators and still grave but less credible types like bloggers regularly mark the holiday in ways that make them bigger laughingstocks than the insurance salesmen with lampshades on their heads who made the holiday famous: They make predictions.
Invariably the predictions do not come true. There is a charming irony in this: celebrating a non-event through the ritual listing of other soon-to-be non-events. (The New York Times has even run an entertaining discussion forum this week on why we seem to need predictions and how hard they are to make.) It is all a cousin to our penchant for marking the “new” year with resolutions to distinguish the year from that which came before it — and which are all soon forgotten in ways that should remind us of the falseness of such distinctions.

(Politics Daily) Top Financial Stories of 2010: Foreclosures, Financial Reform, Bailouts

The Economist: The world this year

Thank God It’s Over
(Foreign Policy) With earthquakes in Haiti and western China, floods in Pakistan, a volcanic eruption in Iceland, and wildfires in Russia, the Earth was intent on releasing a lot of pent-up anger in 2010. Tremors and eruptions — along with the more basic elements of fire and water — seemed to shape the past year’s events even more than traditional foreign policy actors.
Meanwhile, Europe struggled to regain its economic footing, China continued to rapidly grow its GDP, Middle East peace talks crumbled, and world leaders misbehaved (we’re looking at you, Vladmir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi). But there were bright spots, too: A group of Chilean miners escaped after enduring two months trapped underground and long-suffering Burmese democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released after spending nearly two decades in detention and under house arrest.
Before we say say goodbye to 2010, a look back at the year’s achievements and disasters, natural and otherwise.
The Year in FP
In global politics, it was a year of highs and lows. Readers were mostly interested in the lows. Read more

(Vancouver Sun) Significant world events of 2010
2010 began with a massive earthquake in Haiti which killed hundreds of thousands of people. It’s [sic] shock waves were felt around the world. Here are some of the major items of interest from around the world during the past year.

For more upbeat news, Best of What’s New 2010: Our 100 Innovations of the Year … our ultimate winner, [Groasis] an ingeniously simple and inexpensive green box that will make it possible to grow trees in the Sahara.

(Christian Science Monitor) The world in 2011: Trends and events to watch in every region
Rarely has a year dawned with so much more promise for the world’s poor than for its rich than 2011.
The US, Europe, and Japan will continue to face months of economic hardship. Much of the rest of the world, however, can look forward to healthy growth amid signs that most developing countries are managing to sustain their recovery from the global financial crisis.
A 10 percent annual growth rate? That would be China. Eight percent? That will be India, with several Latin American nations not far behind. Even sub-Saharan Africa is looking at more than 5 percent growth on average.
Europe, meanwhile, is struggling to stave off a financial meltdown while its citizens try to get used to new austerity.

Reviewing 2010
: [Al Jazeera] discuss[es] the headlines and the headline makers of 2010.
In this special edition of Frost over the World, we look at the headlines and the headline makers of 2010.
Has a website ever had the impact of WikiLeaks which has blown the cover of secrecy on some of the world’s most delicate issues? Some claim the effects have been catastrophic and have put lives at risk, while others claim that openness and honesty will improve world diplomacy. We are also looking at the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the global threat from terror attacks.

States of Conflict: An Update
(NYT) IT is fairly straightforward to summarize the past year in Iraq and Pakistan, but a more complicated matter for Afghanistan.

Elections to Watch in 2011
(Foreign Policy) From the U.S. midterm “shellacking” to the sham vote in Belarus, elections provided some of the most memorable moments of 2010. And 2011 promises to be no different, with contentious polls coming up in ascendant Turkey, stagnant Egypt, fractious Sudan, and more.

Johann Hari: The under-appreciated heroes of 2010
The endless whirr of 24/7 corporate news ignores the people who actually make a difference

18 December
The redistribution of hope
Optimism is on the move—with important consequences for both the hopeful and the hopeless
(The Economist) According to the Pew Research Centre, some 87% of Chinese, 50% of Brazilians and 45% of Indians think their country is going in the right direction, whereas 31% of Britons, 30% of Americans and 26% of the French do. Companies, meanwhile, are investing in “emerging markets” and sidelining the developed world. “Go east, young man” looks set to become the rallying cry of the 21st century.

16 December
Democracy index 2010
Democracy in retreat
A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit
The 2010 report shows that the economic challenges of the past two years have negatively impacted on the spread of democracy around the world. In total 13 countries changed regime type with three in western Europe no longer full democracies. Sign up for free access to the full report.
“The index provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories—this covers almost the entire population of the world and the vast majority of the world’s independent states (micro states are excluded). The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Countries are placed within one of four types of regimes: full democracies; flawed democracies; hybrid regimes; and authoritarian regimes.
Free and fair elections and civil liberties are necessary conditions for democracy, but they are unlikely to be sufficient for a full and consolidated democracy if unaccompanied by transparent and at least minimally efficient government, sufficient political participation and a supportive democratic political culture. It is not easy to build a sturdy democracy. Even in long-established ones, if not nurtured and protected, democracy can corrode.
” … Now democracy is in retreat. The dominant pattern in all regions over the past two years has been backsliding on previously attained progress in democratisation. The global financial crisis that started in 2008 accentuated some existing negative trends in political development. Disappointments abound across many of the world’s regions. Authoritarian trends have become even more entrenched in the Middle East and much of the former Soviet Union. Democratisation in Sub-Saharan Africa is grinding to a halt, and in some cases is being reversed. A political malaise in east-central Europe has led to disappointment and questioning of the strength of the region’s democratic transition. Media freedoms are being eroded across Latin America and populist forces with dubious democratic credentials have come to the fore in a few countries in the region. In the developed West, a precipitous decline in political participation, weaknesses in the functioning of government and security-related curbs on civil liberties are having a corrosive effect on some long-established democracies.”

One Comment on "2010 Year-end reviews and reports"

  1. Guy Stanley January 5, 2011 at 9:23 am · Reply

    Somewhat surprisingly, none of these comments has tried to address the cumulative effect of 2010 on the years going forward. Perhaps only the democracy report begins to give glimpse of the future now that (1) the west is broke (2) its growth-oriented wealth producing mechanisms are strategically challenged by climate change (3) the executive weakness of international aid has helped to destroy lives in haiti (4) the most successful economies seem to be state capitalist rather than market capitalist. (5) the post-cold war deterrent structures of international relations are far fuzzier and indeterminate than those of the Cold War. Wherever these elements leave us, it doesn’t seem to me very promising. As many commentators have pointed out, we need a reset, but we still seem unable to find the button.

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