By: Catherine He
Twenty twenty-two. A year of new rules, new conflicts, new peace, and most importantly, change. Though it would be impossible to summarize everything that has altered the composition of our world throughout the year, let’s break down the major events that have influenced us, month-by-month.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry survives an assassination attempt
At the very beginning of 2022 on January 1st, the Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry was targeted by gunmen in the northern city of Gonaïves, writes the New York Times and Reuters. The attempted attack took place during an event commemorating the country’s 218th anniversary of independence. Haitian media reported that the shooting killed one person and injured two others. Prior to the incident, the boss of a local gang had threatened PM Henry in the local media. The influence of criminal gangs on the ports of Haiti has increased following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Thankfully, the fragile nation was able to maintain some element of stability through the survival of the Prime Minister.
The first successful heart transplant from a pig to a human
According to Heart.org, the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center made history on Friday, January 7th through executing the first successful transplant of a genetically modified pig’s heart into a human, a process known as xenotransplantation. The 57-year-old male patient with terminal heart disease lived 61 days thanks to the groundbreaking pig-to-human surgery, a transplantation technique that has been researched for over 30 years. There is new optimism in the medical field about the possible reality of harvesting hearts from genetically modified pigs (to be safe for transplantation into humans).
Tropical Storm Ana
From January 20th to January 25th, the southern region of Africa was ravaged by the third deadliest cyclone in 2022. As recorded by Relief Web, the affected countries of Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe suffered high floods, displacement, damage to critical public infrastructure and homes, alongside interruptions to basic services. According to the final analysis, 207 people were injured and at least 38 people died. The storm destroyed 11,757 houses and damaged 26 health centers, 25 water supply systems, 138 power poles, and 2,275 km of roads. Furthermore, 1,608 classrooms were ruined, impacting 209,581 students.
The Islamic State Leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi is killed
According to the Wilson Center, on February 3rd, the U.S. Special Operations Forces carried out a predawn raid in northwestern Syria that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, his nom de guerre for his position. After U.S. forces closed in on his location and demanded a surrender, Qurayshi detonated an explosive that killed himself and several others. A senior Biden administration official said the loss of Qurayshi, one of the few remaining “legacy leaders,” was expected to “lead to disruption within ISIS.” After all, he was “heavily involved in running many of the operations, including many of the external operations.” The future of ISIS/ISIL is to be determined as we move into 2023.
Beijing Winter Olympics
Beijing became the first city in the world to host both the summer and winter games on February 4th! Lasting until the 20th, the 24th winter games will be remembered for its strict anti-COVID measures and the outrage surrounding 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, according to Reuters. From the games came many new household names, such as Nathan Chen and Eileen Gu. The event, occurring once every four years, was an international show of athleticism watched by over 2 billion people worldwide as noted by the Olympics.
Russian Invasion of Ukraine
On February 24th, the world was in shock when Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014. The invasion has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides while simultaneously causing Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, according to El Pais and Evening Standard. Various experts have predicted that in 2023, Ukraine will win back its land, there will be no end to the invasion, there will be no outcome other than a Russian defeat, or the same news will continue. The invasion has encapsulated global news for the majority of the year, with Business Insider calling it the ‘geopolitical earthquake’ that defined 2022, and it looks like it will continue into the new year as the invasion continues to have spill-over effects on the rest of the world.
Global death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 6 million
On March 7th, the New York Times reported that the number of known COVID-19 deaths surpassed six million, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Peru leads the world in the highest number of known deaths per 100,000 people over the course of the pandemic, according to the New York Times. The grim metric and equally grim milestone serves as a stark reminder that COVID-19 continues to have real impact on our world, whether we choose to ignore it or not.
Gabriel Boric is sworn in as the President of Chile
On March 11th, as covered in the Guardian, the progressive former student leader was sworn in as Chile’s youngest ever president and head of state at 36-years-old, approximately a decade after he began his protest leadership. He is joined by several of the student leaders who served alongside him through two terms in congress who will make up his cabinet. Luis Maira, a former minister who mentored the new president, stated that “this is the best generation of young politicians Chile has had in 50 years,” and “without a shadow of a doubt, Boric is leading us into a new chapter of Chilean history.” Look forward to more success stories from Chile in 2023!
Democratic Republic of the Congo is admitted to the East African Community
On March 29th, it was announced that the Democratic Republic of the Congo joined the East African Community to become its 7th Partner State, as is revealed in an East African Community press release. The Chairperson of the Summit, Kenyan President H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, noted that admitting DRC into EAC is historic for the Community and the entire African continent through showcasing an expansion beyond socio-cultural boundaries to new people and trade partnerships that increase trade and investment opportunities for citizens. DRC President Felix Tshishekedi termed it a historical day for DRC, stating that it paves the way for the harmonization of the country’s policies with those of the EAC. DRC joined EAC’s cooperation in all the sectors, programmes and activities that promote the four pillars of EAC Integration.
Global food prices increase to highest level since UN Food Price Index began in 1990
In early April, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations announced that March had seen the highest levels ever of world food commodity prices. War in the Black Sea region distributed shock through markets for staple grains and vegetable oils. The FAO Cereal Price Index was 17.1 percent higher than the previous month due to large rises in wheat and all coarse grain prices due to war in Ukraine. The Russian Federation and Ukraine combined accounted for 30% and 20% respectively of global wheat and maize exports over the past three years. By this point, we were beginning to see the implications of war in a globalized society. Expect to see more disruptions to daily life as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian War in 2023.
Imran Khan is removed after a vote of no confidence
On April 9th, Al Jazeera reported that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was deposed after 174 members voted against him in parliament in a no confidence vote as he called for supporters to take to the streets. The vote came mere days after he blocked a similar attempt. Khan became the first prime minister in the country’s history to be overthrown through a vote of no confidence, the only constitutional way to remove the head of government in Pakistan. No Pakistani prime minister ever completed a full five-year term, though Khan did come close as one of the few to reach the four-year milestone. A few days later on April 11th, Pakistan’s parliament elected Shehbaz Sharif as the 23rd prime minister, as documented by VOA.
European Southern Observatory team announce discovery of micronovae, a new type of exploding star
In a release by the European Southern Observatory on April 20th, it was announced that a team of astronomers, with the help of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, had observed a new type of stellar explosion: a micronova. The outbursts happen on the surface of certain stars and each can burn through around 3.5 billion Great Pyramids of Giza of stellar material in just a few hours. Simone Scaringi, an astronomer at Durham University in the UK who led the study on the explosions, noted that “the phenomenon challenges our understanding of how thermonuclear explosions in stars occur. We thought we knew this, but this discovery proposes a totally new way to achieve them.” It seems that 2023 will be another year of great technological innovation and discoveries!
According to the World Health Organization, since early May, cases of monkeypox had been reported from countries where the disease is not endemic while continuing to be reported in several endemic countries. Most confirmed cases with travel history were travelling from Europe and North America, non-endemic locations. It was the first time that many monkeypox cases and clusters had been reported concurrently in non-endemic and endemic countries in widely differing geographical areas. WHO assessed the risk to be moderate at the global level, but many people around the world found monkeypox a cause for serious concern after spending years in COVID-19 restrictions.
Prime Minister of Sri Lanka resigns
As recorded by NPR, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted on April 9th that he had submitted his resignation “effective immediately” amid Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis in decades. He submitted his resignation to his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The Rajapaksa brothers became the focus of nationwide protests for several weeks leading into May as demonstrators blamed them for mismanaging an economic crisis to the point of months of fuel and food shortages, rolling blackouts, and soaring inflation. The resignation came hours after some of his supporters attacked peaceful protestors who had been camped in front of government offices, injuring dozens. Sri Lanka will continue to navigate a fragile economy as we move into 2023.
Real Madrid beat Liverpool, winning the 14th European Cup title
As covered in Le Monde, Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 for the 14th European Cup title on May 28th. Vinicius Junior scored the only goal of the game. The final was moved to Paris after St. Petersburg was stripped of the game following Russia’ invasion of Ukraine. Though Liverpool were the favourites, Real Madrid ended up coming on top in one of the most prestigious soccer/football competitions in the world.
At least 50 people killed in dual mass shooting-bomb attack in Owo, Nigeria
On June 5th, Reuters reported that gunmen heinously attacked and detonated explosives in a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria during Sunday mass, killing at least 50 people including (some sources say the majority of which being) women and children. According to the Guardian Nigeria, the attack was an indication that the rising incidences of the killing of innocent people in broad daylight experienced in other parts of the country had come to rear its ugly head in the southwest geopolitical zone. The event was a horrifying example of international gun violence that did not make it into mainstream American news.
G7 summit in Germany, ban on Russian gold
One June 26th, it was reported on Politico that the G7 countries were to ban imports of Russian gold in a further response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine. US President Joe Biden announced the plans as the G7 leaders were due to arrive at a luxury resort in the Bavarian Alps for a summit dominated by discussion about the Russo-Ukrainian War and the global economic fallout. The consequences of war dominated 2022 and will continue to do so in 2023.
53 migrants found dead in tractor trailer in San Antonio, Texas
On June 27th, 51 people (later discovered to be 53) migrants were declared dead after being found abandoned in the back of a tractor-trailer on a remote back road in rural San Antonio in sweltering heat, as reported on Global News. The discovery was classified as the worse case of migrant deaths in recent history, and comes amid a rise in illegal migration into the US across the southern border. The incident shed considerable light on just how dangerous the practice of human smuggling is, with migrants being treated as commodities rather than people.
Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe assassinated
On July 8th, the world was shocked to hear that the longest-serving and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been shot dead in central Japan two days before a parliamentary election. According to CNN, Abe was assassinated in broad daylight by a local man using a homemade weapon. In a nation with strict gun ownership laws and a consequently low gun homicide rate, it is unsurprising that this shock event had the impact that it did.
Droupadi Murmu elected President of India
On July 21st, The Hindu reported that National Democratic Alliance candidate Droupadi Murmu was elected the 15th President of India. She is the first tribal woman to be elected president as well as the youngest. President Murmu came from a rural community and was described by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “a ray of hope for our citizens especially the poor, marginalized, and the downtrodden.” It is exciting to see the strides women have made in politics in 2022, especially with regards to India, a rising power.
Though the European Heatwave devastated all throughout the summer, things got particularly bad in July. According to the World Economic Forum, on July 18th, dozens of French towns reported temperatures surpassing 42°C. In the same week, the UK experienced its hottest day on record at 40.3°C, and the heat went as far as to cause major rail line closures. As of July 20th, it was estimated that there had been 1,977 wildfires in 2022, which was approximately three times the average amount. Climate change is real, and we are only beginning to taste the horrors of what could be to come if the world does not wake up in time to fight against it.
Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan, China responds by conducting largest ever military exercise around Taiwan
A day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was hosted in Taipei for a controversial visit in early August, Washington Post commented that China unleashed a show of force against Taiwan, firing missiles into the sea and threatening the island’s territorial waters in retaliation. The military exercises have increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait to the highest level in decades, resulting in fears of a dangerous miscalculation in one of the world’s most charged geopolitical flash points.
Turkey and Israel restore full diplomatic relations
On August 17th, Al Jazeera wrote that Turkey and Israel agreed to restore full diplomatic relations and would return ambassadors to each other’s countries following a gradual improvement in relations. The announcement came four years after the countries expelled ambassadors over the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests on the Gaza border against the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. The move will come to strengthen regional stability.
The IFRC reported at the end of August that more than a thousand were dead as ravaging floods in Pakistan displaced millions of people while damaging over one million homes across the country. The floods caused earthquake-like destruction, causing the loss of almost 710,000 livestock and destroying thousands of kilometres of roads and bridges. The floods came at a time where the South Asia region was facing unprecedented rainfall during the monsoon season that were causing flash floods and landslides in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal as well. Here is yet another example of how climate change has had real impacts on real humans this year, and another reminder of what needs to be at the top of policymakers’ lists in the new year.
Liz Truss and her various fiascos
On September 5th, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II appointed Liz Truss as prime minister during a meeting at her Balmoral Castle in Scotland, according to Reuters. As mentioned on CNN, Truss promised to “ride out the storm” of Britain’s economic crisis, but quite the opposite happened instead. She made her first move on September 23rd with her disastrous ‘mini budget’ – the biggest tax cuts in 50 years. Mayhem commenced with bond prices collapsing and borrowing costs soaring which pushed pension funds to the brink of insolvency, to name just a few results of Liz Truss’s decision-making. Liz Truss’s ‘moron premium’ is continuing to loom over the UK economy, and her regime’s impacts will undoubtedly continue into next year.
Queen Elizabeth II dies
This death is the kind of death that people will ask, “where were you when it happened?” even twenty years down the line. On September 8th, the Queen of England and the head of state of many nations, including Canada, passed away. As noted in the Washington Post, she was 96-years-old and reigned over the UK for 70 of those years. Queen Elizabeth II was a seemingly eternal monarch who provided a beacon of stability in the UK prior to her passing at Balmoral Castle. It will be interesting to see how the UK will navigate their first year without their enduring figurehead in 2023.
On September 28th, the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service reported that Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa in southwest Florida as a dangerous Category 4 storm after its destruction through the Caribbean that brought heavy rainfall to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and western Cuba. The tropical storm first formed on September 23rd and strengthened into a hurricane on September 26th. The storm knocked out power for more than four million Floridians alongside an additional 1.1 million homes and business when the storm hit the Carolinas. At the time of the article, there were 87 reported deaths and the recovery cost was estimated to be around $47 billion.
OPEC+ imposes production cut
According to CNBC, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by two million barrels per day from November despite the fact that the US had asked for more pumping to lower fuel prices and help the global economy. Oil prices had fallen to roughly $80 a barrel from over $120 in early June due to growing fears about a global economic recession, thus the production cut was an attempt to reverse the slide.
Elon Musk acquires Twitter
At the end of October, BBC News reported that Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, completed his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, subsequently firing multiple top executives. Musk, who calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” was critical of Twitter’s management and its moderation policies. He said that upon taking over, he would reverse bans on suspended users, which would include former US president Donald Trump. It remains to be seen what exactly will happen with Twitter as we move into 2023.
Xi Jinping elected as General Secretary, beginning third term
On October 23rd, the Chinese Communist Party elected Xi Jinping as its general secretary for a precedent-breaking third term, cementing his place as the nation’s most influential ruler since Mao Zedong according to Al Jazeera. The CCP also named a seven-member Politburo Standing Committee led by Xi, its inner circle of power dominated by the party leader’s allies.
World population reaches 8 billion
According to the United Nations, on November 15th, the world’s population reached eight billion people, a milestone in human development. The unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human lifespan thanks to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene, and medicine. It took the world twelve years to grow from seven to eight billion, but it is estimated that it will take fifteen years to reach nine billion, a sign of slowing overall population growth rate. Issues surrounding how to sustainably care for a growing population will need to be considered seriously in the years ahead.
FIFA World Cup begins
The FIFA World Cup, the most prestigious soccer competition in the world that takes place every four years, commenced on November 20th in Qatar. As noted in a previous article, it was the first World Cup held in the Arab and Muslim world. Behind-the-scenes was shrouded in human rights violations and controversy, but the entire world was tuned in to watch one of the first major events that was not completely restricted by COVID-19 limitations.
COP27 in Egypt
According to the CNN, the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference took place from November 6th to November 20th and featured negotiators from nearly 200 countries to set up a “loss and damage” fund to help vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters and an agreement that the globe needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030, among other achievements. The agreement also reaffirmed the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, the attempt through a key proposal to address the biggest source of emissions, fossil fuels and coal, was blocked by a number of nations, including China and Saudi Arabia. The world has many things to accomplish in a short amount of time. The question of if leadership, those with the most power to create meaningful change, will cooperate is really the only factor holding these goals back.
Argentina wins the World Cup
According to BBC News, more than a million fans gathered in Buenos Aires to celebrate the victory of Argentina in the World Cup – the first win since 1986. Supporters gathered at the city’s obelisk, where pictures of players were projected. Many said that the victory brought them joy during a time of economic hardship.
Protests in China agains Zero COVID
As noted on France 24, protestors in several major Chinese cities expressed their anger over China’s strict “Zero COVID” policy in early December. The policy put cities into full lockdown when a handful of coronavirus cases accumulated in that location. These protests are the largest demonstrations since Tiananmen Square in 1989. Subsequently, Xi Jinping has dealt with this unprecedented challenge through relaxing some of the measures.
National Ignition Facility achieves fusion ignition
According to Nature, on December 5th, scientists at the largest nuclear-fusion facility – the US National Ignition Facility (NIF) – for the first time achieved ignition: creating a nuclear reaction that generates more energy than it consumes. The research aims to harness nuclear fusion – the phenomenon that power the Sun – to provide a source of almost limitless clean energy on Earth. While researchers caution that even with the latest success there is a long path forward, undoubtedly the future of clean energy is bright.
To 2023, a bright year full of innovation and strength.