Dusk til Dawn
Economic growth remains sluggish in many markets
Although the worst of the economic downturn has passed by now, genuine growth and recovery remains sluggish – especially in countries like the UK, where the fall in private sector debt ratios and rebuilding of savings ratios lasts well into the second half of this decade. Grinding slow growth – as low as 1-1.5% in Europe, the US and Japan – persists for several years, which still feels like a recession to most of the public, and does little to improve levels of employment. Vast interest payments for Government debt force a reduction in social and defence spending and lead to higher taxes, which also harms growth. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the baby boomers are now entering their retirement years. The younger generations are faced with a huge burden of debt.
The ongoing economic strife – along with continuing concerns about energy and food production – has led to stricter regulation, and overhauls of many banking systems. With America nearly bankrupt, a clear shift in the balance of power is taking place from West to East. If the 19th century was Europe’s century, and the 20th century was America’s, then the 21st century looks like being Asia’s – or at least, a combination of Asia’s and America’s.
World’s first 1-gigawatt offshore wind farm
Construction of the largest ever offshore wind farm is underway off the southeastern coast of England. Known as the “London Array”, it will supply enough power for 750,000 homes – a quarter of all those in London.
With a total of 341 turbines, it will reduce carbon emissions by nearly 2 million tonnes every year: a significant milestone in the government’s plan to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.
The project marks the beginning of a major expansion of offshore wind power in Britain. Many other wind farms of this size and greater will be constructed in the coming decades – greatly reducing the country’s dependence on foreign energy, and creating thousands of new jobs in the green industry.
London hosts the Olympic Games
London hosts the Olympic Games for the 3rd time in its history – the only city to have done so this many times. The two week event takes places amidst the largest security operation ever seen in peace-time Europe.
Aside from a small number of arrests, it passes without incident. Despite this, the media tries to hype the threat of a terrorist attack as much as possible during this time.
London has been transformed in recent years by a number of massive construction projects. In addition to the Olympic Games venues themselves, there is Stratford City – a new business district that will eventually rival the Square Mile and Canary Wharf. Then there is Crossrail – a £16bn rail connection linking Heathrow Airport with the central and eastern parts of the city. Various masterplans are helping to regenerate vast areas of land all over the city – including Greenwich Peninsula, Elephant & Castle, Croydon, Paddington, Battersea and elsewhere. These mixed-use developments contain hundreds of thousands of new homes, shops, and offices.
Several new landmarks dominate the skyline including the Shard of Glass at London Bridge, a 72-storey crystalline spire that redefines the capital’s image.
“insert image here”
Mars Science Laboratory explores the Red Planet
It is by far the largest and most powerful rover ever sent to Mars – equipped with highly advanced scientific instruments, as well as the first video camera ever taken to another planet.
The mission has four goals:
- to determine if life ever arose on Mars
- to characterize the climate of Mars
- to characterize the geology of Mars
- to prepare for human exploration
Barack Obama is re-elected…
... but with a reduced majority. He faces continuing economic difficulties, a weakening dollar, an uphill struggle for energy independence, and environmental concerns – as well as more trouble in the Middle East, and veiled threats from both Russia and China. The devastation caused by an earthquake in California is also hampering efforts to get America back on its feet.