Definitions

antisociality

21st century

The 21st century is the current century of the Christian Era or Common Era in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001 and will end December 31, 2100.

Turn of the 21st century (2000-present)

The 21st century began with the United States as the sole superpower in the absence of the Soviet Union, with China becoming a potential superpower.

The debate over what should be done about global warming, fossil fuel pollution and alternative energy raged in the new century after most of the 20th century was marked by industrial expansion. As the Cold War was over and Islamic fundamentalist-related terrorism on the rise the United States and its allies turned their attention to the Middle East.

Digital technology, in its early stages of mainstream use in the 1980s and 1990s, became widely accepted by most of the world, though concerns about stress and antisociality from the overuse of cell phones, the Internet and related technologies remains controversial.

In 2008, 3.3 billion people globally, or nearly half the world's population used cell phones, and in 2005, over a billion people worldwide used the Internet.

Pronunciation

Regarding pronunciation of 21st century years, academics suggest that since former years such as 1805 and 1905 were commonly pronounced as "eighteen oh" or "nineteen oh" five, the year 2005 should naturally have been pronounced as "twenty oh-five". A less common variation would have been "twenty nought-five". Many experts agree that majority usage of "two thousand (and) X" is a result of influences from the Y2K hype, as well as the way "2001" was pronounced in the influential 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Many people, ranging from linguistic and academic experts to Internet bloggers, predict that the "twenty X" pronunciation method will eventually prevail, but a time frame as to when this change will occur often differs. The year 2010 is suggested by many, and the Vancouver Olympics, taking place in 2010, is being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten olympics", while 2011 and 2013 are popular as well. The latest timeframes for change are usually placed at 2020.

Significant events

Politics and war

  • 1998 - 2002 – The Second Congo War continued into the early 21st century. A 1999 ceasefire quickly broke down and a UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC, was unable to control the fighting. Troops from Rwanda and Uganda continued to support rebel groups against the DRC and rifts also grew between Rwanda and Uganda as they accused each other of supporting rival rebel groups as well. Laurent Kabila, president of the DRC, was assassinated in January 2002 and his son, Joseph Kabila, took power. Throughout 2002 steps were made towards peace and Rwanda and Uganda both removed their troops from the country. On December 17, 2002, a massive treaty officially ended the war. However, the DRC only holds power in less than half of the country, with most of the eastern and northern portions still controlled by rebel groups, where there is still significant infighting. In addition, Rwanda still supports anti-DRC rebels and anti-Rwandan rebels continue to operate from the DRC. The war killed an estimated 3.9 million people, displaced nearly 5.5 million, and led to a widespread and ongoing famine that continues to result in deaths. Severe human rights violations continue to be reported.
  • 2001Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked 4 planes and crashed 3 of them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States on September 11, killing nearly 3,000 people. The United States subsequently declared a War on Terrorism.
  • 2001 - present – The U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 and overthrew the Al-Qaeda-supportive Taliban government. Troops remained to install a democratic government, fight a slowly escalating insurgency, and to hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
  • 2002 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established on July 1.
  • 2002 – A series of bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 202 people at the resort of Kuta, Bali, Indonesia on October 12.
  • 2003 - present – In February 2003, a conflict in Darfur, Sudan began and soon escalated into full-scale war. It is soon considered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. By 2008 it is believed that up to 400,000 people have been killed and over 2.5 million displaced. In 2005, the ICC decided that Darfur war criminals would be tried, and on July 14, 2008, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was charged with genocide, although the ICC currently has no power to enforce these charges.
  • 2003 - present – The U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein (who was executed by the Iraqi government on December 30, 2006). Coalition troops remain in the country to install a democratic government and fight an escalating insurgency. In addition to an insurgency against the American presence, Iraq also suffered from a civil war for several years. The war was soon seen as the central front of the War on Terror by many governments, despite growing international dissatisfaction with the war. The total death toll has been estimated at near 150,000.
  • 2003 - 2005 – A series of nonviolent revolutions known as the colour revolutions overthrew governments in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon.
  • 2004 – The European Union expanded by 10 countries, including 8 former communist countries, plus Malta and Cyprus.
  • 2004 – On March 11, bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 191 people on the commuter rail system of Madrid, Spain.
  • 2005A series of bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 56 people in London on July 7.
  • 2005Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip on September 11.
  • 2006 - 2008 – The dismantling of former Yugoslavia continues after Montenegro gained independence on June 3, 2006 and Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008. However, Kosovo's independence is disputed by Russia and many of its allies and is currently only partially recognized.
  • 2006 – On July 12, Hezbollah militants crossed the border of Lebanon and captured two Israeli troops. Israel responded by sending troops across the border and bombing Hezbollah strongholds, killing approximately 1,200 people, mostly Lebanese civilians. A ceasefire was signed on August 14, after which Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon. Many believed that it was a victory for Hezbollah, since Israel failed to destroy them and emerged with stronger political clout within Lebanon.
  • 2006 – On July 11, bombs planted on the train system in Mumbai exploded, killing 209 people.
  • 2006North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on October 9. This was preceded by years of political wrangling with the U.S. over the status of their nuclear program. On February 13, 2007 North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear program and has so far adhered to its promises.
  • 2007 – A civil war escalated in the Gaza Strip throughout June, which resulted in Hamas eventually driving most Fatah-loyal forces from the Strip. In reaction, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dissmissed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and dissolved the Hamas-ruled parliament. Scattered conflict continues.
  • 2008 – Russia invaded Georgia over the status of the disputed province of South Ossetia from August 7 - August 12 and recognized its independence as well as that of another breakaway province, Abkhazia. The international community has widely condemned the actions of Russia, but Russia has blamed pressure from Western powers for their actions, including the expansion of NATO towards its borders.

Science and technology

Space exploration

Medicine

Personal technology

Other

Conflicts and civil unrest

Worldwide deaths from war and terrorist attacks

Natural disasters

Sports

Issues and concerns

There are several points-of-view pertaining to the following items, all of which should be considered accordingly.

Issues that have been frequently discussed and debated so far in this century include:

  • Globalization. Advances in telecommunications and transportation, the expansion of capitalism and democracy, and free trade agreements have resulted in unprecedented global economic and cultural integration. This has caused (and is continuing to cause) economic and cultural shifts which have been the subject of considerable controversy.
  • Overpopulation. The United Nations estimates that world population will reach 9.2 billion by mid-century. Such growth raises questions of ecological sustainability and creates many economic and political disruptions. In response, many countries have adopted policies which either force or encourage their citizens to have fewer children, and others have limited immigration. Considerable debate exists over what the ultimate carrying capacity of the planet may be; whether or not population growth containment policies are necessary; to what degree growth can safely occur thanks to increased economic and ecological efficiency; and how markets should accommodate demographic shifts. Evidence suggests that developed countries (such as Japan) suffer population implosion, and the population debate is strongly tied with poverty.
  • Poverty. Poverty remains the root cause of many of the world's other ills, including famine, disease, and insufficient education. Poverty contains many self-reinforcing elements (for instance, poverty can make education an unaffordable luxury, which tends to result in continuing poverty) that various aid groups hope to rectify in this century. Microcredit lending has also started to gain a profile as a useful anti-poverty tool.
  • Disease. AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria each kill over a million people annually. HIV remains without a cure or vaccine, and is growing rapidly in India and much of the African continent. Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern for organisms such as tuberculosis. Other diseases, such as SARS, ebola, and flu variations, are also causes for concern. The World Health Organization has warned of a possible coming flu pandemic resulting from bird flu mutations.
  • War and terrorism. Active conflicts continue around the world, including civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the largest war since World War II), Chechnya, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, Senegal, Colombia, and Sudan (mainly in Darfur). The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered invasions of Afghanistan and partially and controversially Iraq. The War on Terrorism has seen controversies over civil liberties, accusations of torture, continued terrorist attacks and ongoing instability, violence, and military occupation. Violence continues in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Considerable concern remains about nuclear proliferation, especially in Iran and North Korea, and the availability of weapons of mass destruction to rogue groups.
  • Global warming. Most climate scientists concur that the earth is currently undergoing significant anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming. The resulting economic and ecological costs are hard to predict, and by the end of the 21st century could be quite severe. However, predictions have become more dramatic in recent years. Some scientists argue that human-induced global warming risks considerable losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services unless considerable sociopolitical changes are introduced, particularly in patterns of mass consumption. On the other hand, climate change has already begun to wreak havoc on entire communities on the fringes of the developing world.
  • Power in international relations. Issues surrounding the cultural, economic, and military dominance of the United States and its role in the world community have become even more pointed given its recent military activities, problematic relations with the United Nations, disagreement over several international treaties, and its economic policies with regard to globalization. Integration of the European Union and the African Union have proceeded.
  • Intellectual property. The increasing popularity of digital formats for entertainment media such as movies and music, and the ease of copying and distributing it via the Internet and peer-to-peer networks, has raised concerns in the media industry about copyright infringement. Much debate is proceeding about the proper bounds between protection of copyright, trademark and patent rights versus fair use and the public domain, where some argue that such laws have shifted greatly towards intellectual property owners and away from the interests of the general public in recent years, while others say that such legal change is needed to deal with the threat of new technologies against the rights of authors and artists (or, as others put it, against the outmoded business models of the current entertainment industry). Domain name "cybersquatting" and access to patented drugs to combat epidemics in third-world countries are other IP concerns.
  • Technology developments show no sign of ending. Communications and control technology continues to augment the intelligence of individual humans, collections of humans, and machines. Cultures are forced into the position of sharply defining humanity and determining boundaries on desire, thought, communication, behavior, and manufacturing. Some, notably Ray Kurzweil have predicted that by the middle of the century there will be a Technological Singularity if artificial intelligence that outsmart humans is created. If these AIs then create even smarter AI's technological change will accelerate in ways that are impossible for us to foresee. (However, gradual and simultaneous use of AI technology to increase our own intelligence might prevent this from ever occurring.)
  • Fossil fuels are becoming scarce and more expensive, due to the escalating demand for petroleum ("oil") and oil-based products such as gasoline and kerosene, unmatched by production. Discovery of new oil fields has not been sufficient to sustain current levels of production, and some fear that the earth may be running out of economically viable oil.
  • NATO-Russian Relations have become strained as the "Western Alliance" and NATO square off with Russia and other nations over international policy and the future of the ex-Soviet sphere. An Eastern Europe Missile Defense Shield, military and social conflicts in the Caucasus (particularly Georgia and Chechnya), and the future of nuclear arsenals are among the topics that have strained the relations between the two sides with eerie reminders reminiscent of the Cold War.

The United Nations lists global issues on its agenda and lists a set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to attempt to address some of these issues.

Astronomical events

Pop cultural references to the remaining years of the 21st century

Television and film

Music

  • The second single from the first album by Sam Sparro is titled 21st Century Life. The song makes reference to the fast-paced and confusing nature of life in this century.

Computer and video games

Novels

Decades and years

See also

References

External links

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