As we are heading towards 2023, we would like to look back at the year 2022, and highlight a range of topics.
In 2022, the world was hit with a wave of inflation which significantly impacted the global economy. Driven by the war in Ukraine, power inflation is increasing the cost of living worldwide. A growing international recession has caused several unified problems, including increasing energy and food charges, monetary turmoil after the epidemic, and customer uncertainty. Inflation grew at an alarming rate in nations like the United States, India, Brazil, and China. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the US stretched 9.1% in June 2022, the top level in over 40 years. In 2022, global inflation reached 8.8 percent. Since 1996, the inflation rate has risen yearly at its highest rate. By the end of October, Zimbabwe was leading with an inflation rate of 269 percent.
First, in the early months of the year, a new variant of the Omicron coronavirus spread worldwide, wreaking havoc on the global economy and leaving many countries grappling with the consequences of the pandemic. Several states, such as France and Italy, report new daily record highs for COVID-19, primarily due to the increasingly contagious Omicron variant. The WHO has reported that the Omicron has spread to 57 countries by the end of December. Countries worldwide took drastic measures to contain the virus, including travel restrictions, vaccinations, social distancing, and lockdowns. Many individuals and businesses suffered the economic consequences of the pandemic, with some countries experiencing a drastic decrease in GDP-
Russia invades Ukraine
The Russo-Ukrainian War significantly escalated when Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The Russian president directed the nation’s troops to invade Ukraine. The invasion has resulted in the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II and tens of thousands of deaths on both sides. War broke out in 2014. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has had a devastating impact on the global economy, resulting in slower growth and higher prices. This has not only resulted in a humanitarian crisis but also had a profound economic effect on the world. Ukraine has seen an influx of air defense systems, missiles, artillery, and drones from NATO member states to protect its cities and help repel Russia’s invasion. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, several international organizations and countries have joined together to back Ukraine and condemn Russia for its acts of aggression and human rights violations. The alliance, such as NATO members, the European Union, the G-7, and East Asian countries, has been a major factor in Ukraine’s progress. These have been pivotal in shifting the balance in Ukraine’s favor.
LGBTQIA+ Rights on the Rise
The push for LGBTQIA+ rights saw a major boost in 2022 as governments worldwide took steps to make same-sex relationships and marriages more accepted. There is an openly gay prime minister in Europe and a lesbian one. Conversion therapy was outlawed in Greece, Israel, and Slovenia, while Slovenia’s prohibition on same-sex unions was declared unconstitutional. When it comes to authorizing protection and rights to the LGBTQIA+ community, Western Europe is the most progressive region. While same-sex marriage and the right to adopt for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples are recognized in 32 countries worldwide, 19 are in Europe. Currently, homosexuality is prohibited in 34 African nations, but since 2006, South Africa has led the region in allowing same-sex married people to get married. Most Americans support policies that safeguard protection from prejudice for the LGBTQIA+ community in employment, shelter, and public institutions, which are estimated to be around 80%. 41 percent of respondents also state their support for these regulations. On the other hand, only 20% of people reject such laws, with nearly 7% being vehement opponents.
Pakistan began to receive abnormally heavy rains in the middle of June, and the downpours persisted through the end of August when they were declared a national emergency. One instance of the innumerable extreme weather events that have been arising throughout the Northern Hemisphere is the flooding circumstances in Pakistan. Other areas, like the Horn of Africa, Mexico, and China, have been having significant droughts. The year 2022 saw unprecedented levels of damage due to climate change. Heatwaves shattered temperature records, with Europe and other parts of the world experiencing temperatures never seen before. Droughts occurred throughout the year, with California and the Middle East being hit especially hard, leading to water shortages and crop failures. Flooding in Pakistan caused massive destruction of crops and buildings, displacing millions of people. These extreme weather events have disrupted livelihoods and stressed the global food supply, leading to potential conflict and instability.
Europe’s Worst Drought in 500 Years
In Europe, many rivers have been depleted due to abnormally high temperatures, drought, and catastrophic flooding, resulting in a major economic crisis. Shipping lanes, which typically contribute $80,000,000,000 to the continent’s economy, have been particularly affected by the low river levels in Germany. This has caused freight costs to skyrocket by five times, and the German economy is predicted to suffer a 0.5% decrease in growth this year. Italy has already experienced a 1.5°C rise in temperature above pre-industrial levels, leading to costly damages and economic losses. The human costs of these disasters have been devastating, and it is clear that more needs to be done to protect citizens and the economy from the consequences of climate change. Following the China Meteorological Administration, the worst heatwave and drought in China’s history occurred from June to August 2022. The heatwave and water stress had disastrous effects across Europe; Portugal, Spain, and Greece were particularly hard hit. Due to the bushfires, more than 4,000 people had to be evacuated from Portugal, and more than 600,000 hectares of land were burned. Greece’s administration proclaimed a state of emergency due to the severity of the burns.
China’s Water Shortage
In August of 2022, factories in China were forced to shut down due to severe water shortages around the Yangtze river basin. This was mainly due to the decreased water levels, which curbed electricity generation at hydropower plants. The Chinese government took immediate action in order to combat this problem. They implemented regulations to limit water consumption and encourage conservation efforts. The Chinese government also invested in renewable energy sources to make up for the shortfall in electricity generated by the hydropower plants. These efforts have shown to be successful in some areas, but they have been unable to completely offset the losses caused by the decrease in water levels. This has put China’s economy in a precarious position, as factories are still unable to operate due to the lack of power. The Chinese government has worked to solve the water crisis, but it is not easy due to the sheer size of the Yangtze River basin. The future of China’s economy is still being determined due to the water crisis. The Chinese government has taken steps to mitigate the effects of the water shortages, but it remains to be seen if these efforts will be enough to get China’s factories back up and running. The Chinese government can find a way to manage the water resources of the Yangtze River basin effectively; then, there is potential for the country’s economy to rebound.
World Population Reaches 8 Billion
2022 marked the year when the world population reached 8 billion. This significant milestone was met with a mix of celebration and concern, as the sheer size of the world’s population brings several challenges. Environmental concerns are the most pressing issues facing a world of 8 billion people. With more people utilizing finite resources, environmental destruction is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid or reverse. The strain on natural resources such as water, food, and energy is growing, and the effects of global climate change present an unprecedented danger to the planet. The economic burden of a rapidly growing population also has serious implications. With limited resources, the competition for jobs and resources is increasing, leading to poverty, inequality, and social unrest. In countries such as India and China, overpopulation has led to food shortages, water crises, and other problems. The most immediate solution to population growth is to reduce birth rates, particularly in countries with high fertility rates. Access to education, healthcare, and contraception can help to reduce family sizes, as can raising awareness about the consequences of overpopulation. Despite this, governments worldwide focused on sustainable development, aiming to reduce the environmental impacts of the growing population.
Pig Organs Transplanted into People
In 2022, scientists from the United States, Canada, and Australia successfully transplanted pig organs into humans for the first time. The organs were used to replace failing hearts, livers, and kidneys in patients with no other treatment option. The success of this procedure has opened up the possibility of using pig organs for many other medical procedures. This could be especially beneficial in countries with a shortage of human organs for transplants. In addition, it could help reduce the cost of transplant operations, as pig organs are much cheaper than human organs. The breakthrough has also sparked a debate about the ethical implications of using animal organs for medical purposes. Many people are concerned about using animals for medical purposes, which raises questions about animal welfare and rights. Despite these concerns, the medical community has largely embraced the new technology, arguing that it could save thousands of lives.
Microplastics Detected in Human Blood
In 2022, microplastics were for the first time detected in human blood. Microplastics were discovered after scientists examined volunteers’ blood from the UK, Finland, Italy, and the Netherlands. The discovery raised serious questions about the potential health effects of plastic pollution, a growing problem in many parts of the world. Fortunately, there are steps that countries can take to reduce the presence of microplastics in the environment. Governments can enact bans on single-use plastics, require companies to use recycled materials in their products, and increase public awareness of the issue. Additionally, individuals can take action by reducing their plastic use, such as using reusable water bottles and shopping bags. By taking these measures, the world can begin to address the problem of microplastics in the environment and human bodies.
Ice Shelf Collapses in East Antarctica
Scientists saw something unprecedented when an ice shelf in East Antarctica crumbled for the first time in 2022. The ice shelf’s collapse was evidence of climate change’s effects on the planet. It served as a stark reminder that immediate action is required to lower carbon dioxide emissions and halt the pace of global climate change. The effects of the collapse were felt across the globe, as the large-scale ice loss resulted in a rapid rise in sea levels. This led to increased flooding, erosion, and severe weather events worldwide. In addition, the decreased sea ice meant increased global temperatures, further exacerbating climate change’s effects. In response to the disaster, the international community implemented various measures to address the issue. These include large-scale conservation initiatives, as well as providing aid to affected nations in order to help them recover from the disaster. Additionally, research continues to be conducted on the collapse’s effects to understand the implications better and prevent similar future disasters.
In Brazil’s election in October, former president Luiz da Silva made a comeback after narrowly defeating incumbent right-winger Jair Bolsonaro. Scientists feared Bolsonaro’s administration would further damage the country’s already precarious research environment, with funding for science and technology set to be slashed by 50%. However, with Lula’s return, it is hoped that the country can restore its budget for science and technology and restore greater protection for the Amazon rainforest.
In Australia, the elections in April saw the return of the centre-left Labor party to power after six years of conservative government. This was welcomed by scientists, who had suffered cuts to research funding during the previous administration. In his election manifesto, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese promised to reverse these cuts and invest in digital technology, renewable energy, and artificial intelligence.
In France, the June elections saw President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election. After five years of Macron’s term, the country was still suffering from the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. However, Macron’s second term brought some relief, with his government promising to invest in areas such as renewable energy, digital technology, and research and development .
Egypt hosted the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The conference disagreed despite scientists’ stark warnings about climate change’s effects. However, one bright spot was the agreement on a new ‘loss and damage’ fund for vulnerable countries. The fund will help low- and middle-income countries to cover the cost of climate-change impacts, such as the catastrophic floods in Pakistan this year. This was a major step forward in tackling the global climate crisis.
Progress in Female Representation
Several countries and organizations are taking steps toward greater gender equality. The Supreme Court in the United States withdrew its aid for women’s rights, although many other nations and organizations took the opposite stance. To close the gender health gap, England launched its Females’ Health Strategy, while Scotland was the first nation to assure the right to an unlimited period. 2022 was a significant year for women in sports. The greatest TV audience for a women’s tournament in UK history watched the final of the Euro 2022 for both England and Germany. Even in a nation with few rights for women, the men’s World Cup commemorated an important first: a female referee presided over a match for the first time.
First Person of Color Heads the British Government
As the nation’s first prime minister of color and a Hindu, Rishi Sunak will mark significant turning points in the development of Britain as a multicultural and multireligious society. Politicians of color are now significantly more prevalent in key cabinet positions like the chancellor, education secretary, and defense secretary. However, there has never been a brown or black prime minister in the UK. In light of the nation’s colonial past, Rishi Sunak’s ascent to the role of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is particularly poignant. Between 1858 and 1947, Britain reigned over India for nearly a century, and today’s Britain is made up of immigrants from the colonial power. The rise of Rishi Sunak to the highest office in Britain has a powerful symbolic significance. Sunak’s appointment shows that the UK is moving towards greater diversity and inclusion in its political leadership. It also serves as an inspiration to all members of the British diaspora, demonstrating that they, too, can reach the highest levels of public life despite the legacy of colonialism that persists in the country. Sunak’s appointment is a major step forward in breaking down the traditional barriers to power and making the UK a more inclusive and diverse nation.