Adam Boulton: Glimpses of hope and reasons to be cheerful as 2022 ends | UK news | Daily News Byte

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2022 has been a tough year, with the UK often hit harder than its peers in the G7 – the club of the world’s richest democracies.

Russia’s bloody attack on Ukraine leading to dramatic spikes in energy costs.

Global Cost of living crisis Driven by rising inflation and interest rates.

In the UK, hard-pressed public sector workers are on strike.

Unprecedented political instability in the ruling Conservative Party has meant that there have been three different prime ministers in a single year.

Meanwhile, billions of us grapple with digital technology and connectivity. Some fear that social media is making traditional representative democracy impossible while handing over power to autocratic and unaccountable corporations. Online communication has certainly made us angrier and less tolerant of others.

The world population has crossed eight billion people This year, humanity’s existential pressure on Earth is increasing. Extreme weather events are more frequent than ever thanks to global warming.

Globally, the Covid pandemic has killed more than six million people, and it’s not over, with a million more deaths predicted in China as the Communist Party reverses its zero-COVID policy.

Taken together, these problems paint a bleak picture of life in 2022, yet there are glimmers of hope as we try to confront them. As we head into the new year, I want to share some reasons to shake off the gloom and be cheerful.

Hope and unity emerge from war in Ukraine

Ukrainians celebrate Russia's withdrawal from Kherson in November
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Ukrainians celebrate Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson in November

No one should minimize the horrors of the war in Ukraine, which has claimed thousands of lives on both sides and is still suffering deliberate destruction by an aggressor of a modern European state. Russia’s superiority in size may also mean that Ukraine will never regain all of its territory.

However, the course of the war so far has left everyone confused President Vladimir Putin calculated and shattered the dreams of authoritarian rule elsewhere. Russia could not win in a few days.

Western democracies have not proven weak and desolate. NATO is not “brain-dead,” as President Emmanuel Macron quipped a few years ago. It is even stronger with Finland and Sweden joining the military alliance.

Led by the US, the UK and Poland, Western countries have provided billions of dollars in military aid to accommodate the refugees. Equally important, the thirst for freedom, peace and democracy of the Ukrainian people and their leaders, President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized in his impassioned address to a joint session of the US Congress, reminded us of all the values ​​that should unite us and which. Worth fighting for.

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For all their faults, Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss gave solid support to Ukraine, even as it undermined their key post-Brexit foreign policy of distancing themselves from Europe. British governments are now likely to recognize the importance of good relations with the UK’s closest and largest trading bloc, based on practical cooperation rather than ideology.

A healthy democracy

There is no going back on leaving the EU. But the UK has an opportunity to enter a new phase without obsessing over the question of Europe, which has dogged the Tory party since at least the 1990s, and is betraying the nation in the process.

Conservative governments no longer have an excuse to be distracted from dealing directly with the more important questions of growth, productivity and fairness.

If the ruling party does not adapt and address these issues, opinion polls and recent local and by-elections suggest that voters are ready for change.

Whatever the outcome of the next election, this is a sign of a healthy democracy. The increasingly restless people of Russia, China and Iran, for example, cannot enjoy something.

In Western elections this year, the tide appeared to be turning against populist leaders with links to Russia.

The candidates most associated with Donald Trump, who called Putin a “genius,” fared poorly in November’s midterm elections. Democrats controlled the Senate. In France, President Macron was re-elected in April, beating off a challenge from Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally.

Game-changing future technology

High-powered lasers were used, beaming down on a target 'about the size of a peppercorn'.
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US scientists conduct first nuclear fusion experiment to achieve net energy gain

In the age of modern communication, the world should not and cannot be globalized. However, the damage caused by the loss of Russian energy has emphasized the importance of producing our own green energy and trading with friendly and stable partners.

2022 will be a record year for launching renewable energy programs, a trend that was already accelerating before the invasion of Ukraine.

Other scientific breakthroughs this year point to game-changing future technologies. In the US, experimenters have achieved nuclear fusion for the first time, producing more energy than was used to trigger it.

Chinese scientists claim to have discovered a way to produce hydrogen by electrolyzing salt water. Applied on an industrial scale, this would dramatically increase the supply and affordability of potentially “green” fuels.

A test case in Amazon

Climate activists protest at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt
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Climate activists protest at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt

Two important world meetings on the environment were held this year – COP27 in Egypt on climate change and COP15 in Canada on biodiversity.

Neither was dramatic, but both reaffirmed commitments that were already moving in the right direction. Crucially, at both summits, rich nations agreed to remove one of the biggest obstacles to rapid progress.

They agreed, though more in theory than practice, to pay for the damage and loss to poorer nations caused by Western industrialization and to protect vital ecosystems. Both are a battle against time and the pace of degradation.

Brazil will be a test case. Deforestation in the Amazon grew catastrophically under the auspices of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro. Lula da Silva, who took office in January, successfully campaigned on a commitment to zero deforestation in rainforests, wetlands and savannahs. He has reappointed a highly committed Environment Minister,

Marina Silva, and increased the budget to deal with the destruction.

We live longer and healthier

68.7% of the world’s population now has at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. A total of thirteen billion doses have been distributed. The killing capacity of the disease is decreasing.

An anti-malaria vaccine has also become a live possibility this year. Global life expectancy increased to 73 years in 2022, albeit at 0.24%. A woman born in Britain this year can expect to live to 83 – a 21-year increase on the average female life expectancy in 1926, the year Queen Elizabeth II was born.

Life expectancy is increasing in the UK and US. The most dramatic progress has been in poorer countries. Today, 9.2% of the world’s population lives in what is defined as extreme poverty, compared to 36% in 1990. That’s still over a billion people. In the same period, deaths of children aged five and under fell from 34,200 to 14,200 per day.

Pioneers believe that mankind is on the brink of a huge change in both preventive and therapeutic medicine – thanks to the use of AI technology in mapping the human genome and proteins and the possibilities of so-called CRISPR gene editing.

A better tech universe

Elon Musk

We have no control over the way online technology is changing almost every aspect of our lives. Authoritarian regimes use it to control information and their own citizens. In free societies, trolls and conspiracy theorists send lies around the world, aided by bots from hostile nations.

Common people take to social media to denigrate others and “cancel” them. The furor on both sides over Jeremy Clarkson’s casually hateful comments on Meghan Markle is just the latest example.

Meanwhile, tech companies and entrepreneurs have become absurdly rich.

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In 2022, we began to respond by stopping this folly. The US government enacted legislation against the transfer of strategically important tech to China. The UK Government considered the essential issues in the Online Safety Bill. EU moves against US tech cartels.

The FTX collapse in fraud burst the cryptocurrency bubble. Elon Musk’s outrageous mismanagement of Twitter showed the world that tech geniuses don’t have all the answers. A better, less unequal, tech universe should emerge from all this, not least because the emerging generations are growing up in it.

Beyond the metaverse, digging deeper into the worlds of politics, health and the environment offers some reasons to be cheerful as the year comes to an end.

All things equal in 2023, teachers write at the bottom of report cards, must do better.

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