In a few weeks, 2009 will be history. As George Santayana once famously said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." With that in mind, I have attempted to construct a list of the most important events of each month in 2009.
As you will see, certain events have been omitted, such as the death of Michael Jackson and Barack Obama's inauguration. To be sure, it's not because of their lack of importance. Michael Jackson was the most famous entertainer of all time, and we all know why Obama's inauguration was important. However, these things occurred in months when more globally important events took place.
The following events took us on a roller coaster ride through the year. Some of them are positive, and some of them are not so positive. Regardless, they are the events that we'll remember when discussing 2009.
January: When a dispute arose on January 7 between Russia and Ukraine over unpaid debts, Russia shut off natural gas to the region. Since 80% of the gas intended for Europe flows through Ukraine, the world quickly learned how much control Russia has over energy markets. As a result, 18 European countries suffered a decrease in natural gas supplies. Link to news article.
February: On February 10, an American satellite and a Russian satellite collided over Siberia. It was the first time in history that two intact, man-made satellites collided while in orbit. The collision created over 1000 pieces of space debris larger than four inches, and countless smaller pieces, raising concerns about how to properly dispose of decommissioned satellites. Link to news article.
March: The Darfur region of Sudan has been in a state of humanitarian emergency since 2003. Finally, on March 4, after years of accusations of genocide, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. It was the first time since the court's inception that it issued an arrest warrant for a sitting head of state. Needless to say, al-Bashir has not surrendered to the court, and there have been no attempts to arrest him. Link to news article.
April: On April 24, the World Health Organization acknowledged the alarming number of influenza cases originating in Mexico. It was the first acknowledgment of the potential of the swine flu epidemic. By June, the WHO determined that swine flu was in fact a global pandemic. Link to news article.
May: The Sri Lankan Civil War finally ended after 25 years of conflict. On May 18, the Sri Lankan government declared total military victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The end of the war can largely be attributed to the death of the leader of the LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran, on May 17. Link to news article.
June: Thousands of people took to the streets in the aftermath of Iran's presidential election, in which Mahmoud Ahmadenijad won a second term amid charges of election fraud. Sadly, the protests quickly turned violent, resulting in 36 deaths. One victim's death, that of Neda Agha-Soltan, was captured on video, making her the face of the reform movement in Iran. Despite the protests and calls for a new election, though, the results were upheld and Ahmadinejad was inaugurated on August 5. Link to news article.
July: On July 22, the world got to witness the longest solar eclipse of the 21st century. Visible in much of Southeast Asia, the eclipse lasted six minutes and 39 seconds, a duration not expected to be matched until 2132. Because of the importance of the event, it was broadcast live over the Internet, leading some experts to claim that it was the most viewed solar eclipse in history. Link to news article.
August: On March 17, American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were arrested in North Korea after illegally crossing the border from China. They were eventually convicted and sentenced to 12 years' hard labor. However, on August 4, former U.S. President Bill Clinton went to North Korea to negotiate their release. Thankfully, on August 5, they were freed. Link to news article.
September: Back in 1977, filmmaker Roman Polanski was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles. To avoid arrest, he moved to France, and as a French citizen was able to avoid extradition. However, on September 27, Polanski was arrested when he traveled to Switzerland for the Zurich Film Festival. He is currently freed on bail in Switzerland and trying to avoid extradition to the U.S. Link to news article.
October: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced new regulations for bloggers, requiring the disclosure of any material relationships. It is the FTC's first major attempt to curb false advertising and false testimonials on the Internet. The new regulations went into effect on December 1, but only time will tell what effect they will have on internet marketing. Link to news article.
November: NASA had launched the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite in June, the first American mission to the moon since the 1990s. After examining the data from the mission, NASA announced on November 13 that they had discovered water in the Cabeus crater of the moon. It's a fitting discovery considering the UN General Assembly declared 2009 to be the International Year of Astronomy. Link to news article.
December: This past Thursday, December 10, the 2009 Nobel Prize award ceremony was held. Five women were awarded Nobel prizes this year, the most in any given year since the Nobels were first awarded in 1901. This is a pretty significant accomplishment considering only 35 women had previously won the award. In addition, Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Link to news article.
What did you think were the most important events of 2009?