Pop Quiz: The 2010s in review

Pop Quiz: The 2010s in review

This decade began in the shadow of the global financial crisis and the light of the Arab Spring. It ended with a world plagued by surging populist nationalism, fears that new technologies are undermining democracy, and the threat of a new cold war, this time between the US and China.

As you try to wrap your mind around exactly what's happened over the past ten years, here are a few questions to put the decade in perspective. (Answers are below.)


1. Of the people who lead the world's ten largest economies, only one person was in power for the entire decade – who was it?

2. Which two countries were the only ones to expand their slice of the global economic pie over the past decade?

3. Which of the following European far-right political parties did not exist in 2010: Italy's Lega, Denmark's Danish Peoples Party, Germany's Alternative for Deutchland, or France's National Rally?

4. Which was the only country to emerge from the Arab Spring with a democracy that lasted the decade?

5. Facebook currently has 2.4 billion active monthly users. How many of those did it add over the past ten years?

6. Since 2010, has the percentage of people living in extreme poverty fallen or risen?

7. What song topped the US pop charts in 2010?

ANSWERS:

1. The lone top-10 leader who lasted the whole decade was Angela Merkel. She took office as German Chancellor in 2005. Expand to the world's top 20 economies, and you can include Russia's Vladimir Putin (since 2000) and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2001).

2. China and the United States increased their share of global GDP. In 2010, China accounted for 9 percent of global output, rising to 15 percent by 2018. The US went from 22 percent to 23 percent over the same time frame. If you measure using PPP (purchasing power parity – a yardstick that takes into account the relative strength of each country's currency), then you can add India to the list.

3. The new kid on the far-right block is Alternativ fur Deutschland (AfD), which was founded in 2013. In 2017, it became the first far-right party to enter the German legislature since World War Two. Lega, formerly Lega Nord, was founded in 1991 as a northern Italian separatist party, In 2018, party leaders dropped "Nord" from the name, rebranding Lega as a pan-Italian Euroskeptic and anti-immigrant nationalist party. Similarly, France's Front National, founded in 1972, renamed itself National Rally in 2018. The Danish People's Party was founded in 1995.

4. The lone Arab Spring success story is Tunisia. Egypt had a brief spell of democracy, when Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Morsi was elected president in 2012, but after a series of political errors, he was removed in a military coup a year later. He died in prison this year.

5. Facebook has added 2 billion regular monthly users since 2009, when it had about 400 million. Put another way, at the beginning of the decade, the population of Facebookistan was equal to that of two Brazils. Today, at about 2.4 billion, it's almost equal to China and India combined.

6. The global poverty rate has fallen significantly since 2010, when almost 16 percent of people in the world lived on less than 2 dollars a day. Today the number is about 11 percent – a difference of about 400 million people.

7. Did you wake up in the morning feeling like P-Diddy? Did you brush your teeth with a bottle of Jack? If so, you'll recall that the number one song of 2010 was "TiK Tok" by Ke$ha. Of course, by the end of the decade, a very different TikTok would be making global headlines

A sector that's rapidly expanding, domotics - domus (home) plus robotics - are smart houses that manage temperature and lighting to minimize wasted electricity. For example, smart thermostats sense your presence and set the temperature according to your needs, saving 20% a year on heating bills. Watch this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series to learn how domotics save money and increase a home's value.

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

More Show less

When will it be safe for the world's children to be vaccinated against COVID-19? The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says that vaccines are being tested in children down to the age of six or even lower, and promises that data on children will be shared as soon as it's available. She also notes that there are not enough studies on transmission in schools, and the WHO has advised governments to prioritize schools "over other things like shopping malls or cinema halls or pubs." Dr. Swaminathan spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Over the past half century, climate change has had an immense impact on the farmers who produce the food we eat. A new study by Cornell University shows that global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965, equivalent to seven years of normal growth if humans had not polluted the planet. But not all countries have been affected in the same say. Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be. Here we take a look at how climate has affected farming productivity growth around the world.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

More Show less

A Castro-less Cuba: Raúl Castro, younger brother of the late Fidel, is expected to retire on Friday as secretary-general of Cuba's ruling communist party. When he does, it'll mark the first time since the 1959 revolution that none of Cuba's leaders is named Castro. The development is largely symbolic since Castro, 89, handed over day-to-day affairs to President Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2018. It's worth noting that US sanctions laws do specify that one of the conditions for normalizing ties with Cuba is that any transitional government there cannot include either of the Castro brothers. So that's one less box to tick in case there is a future rapprochement across the Straits of Florida. But more immediately, we're watching to see whether a new generation of leaders headed by Díaz-Canel will bring any serious reforms to Cuba. COVID has killed the tourism industry, plunging the island into an economic crisis that's brought back food shortages and dollar stores reminiscent of the early 1990s.

More Show less

16: Brazil's new plan to save the Amazon promises to curb deforestation, but not too much. Although it would reduce annual forest loss to the average recorded over the past five years, next year's target is still 16 percent higher than the Amazon's total deforestation in 2018, the year before President Jair Bolsonaro — who favors economic development of the rainforest — took office.

More Show less

Should the Biden administration "reverse course on China" in the hope of establishing a friendlier relationship, as diplomat Kishore Mahbubani argues in a recent Financial Times op-ed? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Michael Hirson take out the Red Pen to explain why it's not that simple.

And today, we are talking about the United States and China. The relationship between the two most powerful nations in the world is the worst it's been since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Pundits and policymakers alike all around the world are trying to figure out how Washington and Beijing can at least stop the bleeding because a reset is nowhere in the cards.

That's the topic of the op-ed that we are looking at today. It's from the Financial Times, written by Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, and the title summarizes the key argument: "Biden should summon the courage to reverse course on China." Meaning, he should throw out the Trump era approach and open the door to more cooperation and kinder, gentler relations.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal