A Look back on 2018
2018 was a quite a year. We had a royal wedding, a FIFA world cup, one of America’s most important midterm elections ever and almost had war between the US and North-Korea. 2018 was a turbulent year full of losses. Stan Lee, gone. Toys ‘R Us gone. Croatia had one of the most heartbreaking losses in FIFA history, but 2018 also had a lot of victories. 2018 was a great year for music, marijuana got legalized in Canada and the kilogram was changed! At the end of the day do the victories outweigh the losses? Was 2018 a good year?
Health-wise 2018 wasn’t a bad year. On the medicine side of things, we had many healthcare innovations. Namely CRISPR genome editing. Now if you don’t know what CRISPR is, it’s a simple, but powerful tool to edit genomes. We can use CRISPR to literally cure all diseases. Recently we have made huge strides in CRISPR that targets RNA, which is amazing since in some diseases it’s the RNA messages that go wrong in our cells. This type of CRISPR would be much better in combating them.On the other side of things, world hunger has grown, reaching 821 million(1 in 9) people, according to the 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. As reported by the UN the rise in hunger is mainly caused by climate variability affecting rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts and floods. Next to world hunger adult obesity is also worsening, mainly in North-America, but Asia and Africa are also experiencing a rise. Furthermore, deaths by NCDs (non-communicable or chronic diseases) are on the rise, according to the World Health Organization(WHO). On the bright side, the WHO also reports a 13% decline in the alcohol-related death-rates since 2010.
To a blind eye, it might seem like civil rights are flourishing worldwide, but that is far from the case. Worldwide civil rights are under attack. In the US, the Trump administration is taking steps to remove all legal protection for transgender Americans. According to the New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services is working to make a legal definition of sex, it would: “define sex as either male or female, unchangeable and determined by the genitals a person is born with.”. Since trans- and nonbinary people changed their sex after birth this would essentially exclude transgender and nonbinary people from federal civil rights protection seeing as their sex does not fall under the constitution.
Worldwide civil rights are also worsening. According to the report: “People Power Under Attack 2018” out of 196 countries worldwide 111 have governments where freedoms are threatened. For example, in the past 2 years, censorship was imposed in at least 31 countries in Africa. African governments disrupted internet access, including by blocking social media platforms. According to a report by Civicus Monitor countries were also found to be passing authoritarian laws and using new technologies to control public debate. For example in China censorship using new technology had reached unprecedented levels since the inauguration of president Xi Jinping. President Xi Jinping even going as far as to ban photos of Winnie the Pooh on social media, because people kept comparing it to him.
Politics-wise the world hasn’t gotten a lot better either. In Brazil, for example, Jair Bolsonaro referred to some as tropical Trump, was elected president. The problem with Bolsonaro is that he is an alt-right president. Bolsonaro is a racist, sexist and a homophobe. For example in response to the question: “What would you do if one of your sons was dating a black woman?”, Bolsonaro said: “ Well that would never happen because my children were brought up right”. On top of that, Bolsonaro also wants to step out of the Paris climate accord and is for cutting more of the Amazon rainforest down, which has already had 20% of its forest cut down. After the midterm elections in the US republicans still hold the Senate, but Democrats now take the house(which was in hand of Republicans). On one hand, this seems good because now people’s ideologies get represented better in their parliament. However, what really happens is….nothing, because of constant disagreements between the democrats and republicans nothing ends up getting done. President Trump’s border wall is having difficulties receiving funding and recently the United States’ government SHUT DOWN!
US-Chinese Trade War
In 2018 president-elect Donald Trump started his promised trade war with China. At the moment the US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. China didn’t just sit around like a baby, they fired back with tariffs on $110 billion worth of US goods. Was the trade war worth it? No.Trump put tariffs on Chinese steel for example. Now, this was really good for US companies that make steel, which led to the creation of 26.000 jobs. For companies that manufacture things made from steel, it made their manufacturing process a hell of a lot more expensive and cost the US more than 400 hundred thousand jobs. You might be asking, why should I care? Simple, the tariffs caused daily items like food and groceries to becoming more expensive, here are some examples: pork, sushi, cereal, mustard, grapes, TVs, candy, air conditioners and many more.
During November of 2018 delegates from 60 countries worldwide voted to do one massive thing….change the kilogram. The kilogram used to quite literally be based on a lump of metal deep down in a basement in France, but now it’s based on Planck’s constant. Why did they do this? First of all, it’s more accurate because if that lump of metal in France changed because of deterioration the definition for the kilogram changed too. Second and most importantly it was about ideology. By tying the kilogram to a constant in nature you are freeing it from its physical constraints and achieving the dream of the creators of the metric system.
In short 2018 was a year full of ups and downs, but mostly full of downs. Even though we had some amazing scientific innovations like CRISPR with RNA and important scientific moments they were superseded by a bounty of bad things. More world hunger, a trade war that hasn’t had any net-benefit for any country and a worsening political and civic climate. 2018 sucked nothing more nothing less. However there’s one thing we can be happy about, it’s all over. New year, new me, new horizons new possibilities. Let us not look to the past in sadness, but look to the future with hope and aspiration for greatness. Excelsior!!!