By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
By any standard, 2019 was a wild ride.
Stepping back to get a sense of the big picture, the decade, from 2010-2019, was one crazy decade.
In all kinds of ways, this decade literally changed us all.
Here are just a few ways –
Way back in 2010, MySpace was the most popular website on the internet – far larger than Google. (1*) Instagram and Groupon were just beginning.
Some companies that started off strong in the early 2010s and evaporated by 2019 are Solyndra, Blockbuster and Blackberry.
Compact discs and DVDs were vastly popular in 2010 – and essentially extinct by 2020.
Print versions of newspapers and magazines were relatively strong in 2010, but by 2020?
If anyone was looking for inspiration to build a time machine, a look at real estate prices in 2010 – especially in San Francisco or Seattle – would motivate anyone.
It seems like ancient history to us now, but 2010 began with the massive earthquake in Haiti (2*), a volcano erupting in Iceland (which paralyzed air traffic and stranded travelers for weeks) and torrential monsoon rains that killed at least 1,600 and left about 4 million homeless in Pakistan.
In April the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers. The resulting Horizon oil spill, one of the largest in history, spread for several months, damaging the waters and the United States coastline around the Gulf Coast, prompting international debate and doubt about the practice and procedures of offshore drilling.
Toward the end of April Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greece’s sovereign credit rating to junk 4 days after the activation of a €45-billion EU–IMF bailout, triggering the decline of stock markets worldwide and of the euro’s value, and furthering a European sovereign debt crisis.
In early May the 2010 Flash Crash, a trillion-dollar stock market crash, occurred over 36 minutes, initiated by a series of automated trading programs in a feedback loop.
These last two events, both occurring in the aftermath of the Great Recession, spooked everyone even more.
In September a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand causing large amounts of damage but no direct fatalities. It is the first in a series of earthquakes between 2010 and 2012 that resulted in the deaths of 187 people and over $40 billion worth of damage.
WikiLeaks becomes a major source of controversy (and an unexpected influence over future presidential elections).
A few companies that emerged in 2011 were Anker, Crowdstrike, Spotify and Peloton.
Black Lives Matter emerged in 2011 and lasted, essentially until 2016.
Civil wars begin to emerge in Syria, Libya, Iran, Egypt and across the Middle East and North Africa – largely in response to the “Arab Spring”.
A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the east coast of Japan, killing 15,840 and leaving another 3,926 missing. Tsunami warnings are issued in 50 countries and territories. Emergencies are declared at four nuclear power plants affected by the quake. Known by most of us as the Fukushima earthquake, its radioactive residue is still pulsing into the Pacific.
In New York City, Occupy Wall Street protests begin in the United States. This develops into the Occupy movement which spreads to 82 countries by October. The focus of the protests was income inequality.
World population hits 7 billion.
In October of 2011 Steve Jobs passed away.
Companies founded include Levo, Oculus VR and Redwood Robotics.
After 246 years, the Encyclopedia Britannica discontinued its print edition.
Vladimir Putin is elected President of Russia.
Barack Obama is reelected President of the United States.
Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting: Twenty-eight people, including the gunman, are killed in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
Washington State and Colorado declare marijuana legal for personal recreational use.
Many were (apparently) convinced that the Mayan Calendar predicted the end of the world in December of 2012.
Celebrity deaths included Davy Jones, Whitney Houston, Dick Clark, Phyllis Diller and Ray Bradbury.
Companies founded include Cambridge Analytica, Petcube and Orbital Insight.
A meteor explodes over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,489-1,492 people and damaging over 4,300 buildings. It is the most powerful meteor to strike Earth’s atmosphere in over a century.
Benedict XVI resigns as pope, becoming the first to do so since Gregory XII in 1415, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is elected the 266th pope, whereupon he takes the name Francis, and becomes the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere.
In April two Chechnya-born Islamist brothers explode two bombs at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, killing 3 and injuring 264 others.
Former CIA employee Edward Snowden discloses operations engaged in by a U.S. government mass surveillance program to news publications and flees the country, was later granted temporary asylum in Russia.
United States v. Windsor (570 U.S. 744) decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, overturning a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act and hence granting federal recognition to same-sex marriage in the United States.
Notable deaths included Lou Reed, Nelson Mandela, and Margaret Thatcher.
The Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa begins, infecting at least 28,616 people and killing at least 11,310 people, the most severe both in terms of numbers of infections and casualties.
The XXII Olympic Winter Games are held in Sochi, Russia.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, disappears over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board. The aircraft as of December 2019, has not been found.
Notable deaths included Pete Seeger, Sid Caesar, Shirley Temple, Maya Angelou, Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney.
Juul, the e-cigarette company is founded. Vaping is considered a “safer” alternative to smoking.
A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal and caused 8,857 deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declares that rubella has been eradicated from the Americas. Thanks to lack of vaccinations, it (along with many others) comes back with a vengeance in just a few years.
Ireland votes to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
Volkswagen is alleged to have been involved in worldwide rigging of diesel emissions tests, affecting an estimated 11 million vehicles globally. Needless to say, years of lawsuits follow.
Notable deaths included Leonard Nimoy, B.B. King, Omar Sharif and Maureen O’Hara.
(1*) To see a review of ten years worth of moribund products just from Google, take a look here – https://www.theverge.com/2019/12/12/21012505/google-decade-failed-projects-discontinued-wave-glass-daydream-vr?
(2*) With a confirmed death toll of over 316,000.
Editor’s note: this is one of three “Decade in Review” articles.