This is similar to my Legacy of 2009 post. I didn’t write one for 2010 or 2011, but the theme was similar. In 2010, social media really exploded, and by 2011 it was all but set in stone. But as this was happening, another explosion was occurring: the smartphone. In early 2012, smartphones hit 50% saturation in the United States, and thus statistically they are near peak sales (though perhaps holiday season 2012 might be the final spike).
The global smartphone market is rising rapidly as well. With more people than ever having the sum total of human knowledge within arm’s reach, this leads to the year’s real legacy:
2012: The Fall of Superstition
On December 21, 2012 the world was supposed to come to an end, thought 10% of the world’s population. But on that day, nothing happened. The universe continued as normal. Perhaps a massively failed doomsday can help awaken the world from superstition.
At 12%, the most scientifically and technologically sophisticated country in the world, the United States, was shockingly above average in the 2012 doomsday belief. Yet, this fact may not be too surprising, for among that of the developed countries, the US has been and is the most religious by far.
But this may change in several more years. From a 2012 Pew Research survey, non-religion is quickly growing in the United States, gaining roughly 5 percentage points in 5 years.
More importantly, with the strong correlation between non-religion and younger age, the growth of non-religion is poised to accelerate in the upcoming years. In one of my previous posts, I predicted that secularism will be one of the next sociopolitical movements, following the previous Civil Rights and feminist movements, and also the current LGBT movement.
Along with a shock to superstition came several great advancements in science. The Curiosity rover landed with high precision in a daring and suicidal-looking sky crane maneuver.
Another significant achievement is the confirmation of the Higgs boson, whose existence in turn confirms the Standard model, one of the most intricate scientific theories to date. Other great scientific accomplishments of 2012 include:
- the discovery of an Earth-sized planet around Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to ours,
- an explanation for the rise of rare variants in our DNA,
- a 24-mile jump,
- a prototype bionic eye,
- SpaceX’s commercial launch of a spacecraft to the International Space Station,
- a cure for leukemia using HIV.
With all the remarkable advancements, 2012 was not without disappointments. In Italy, six scientists were sentenced to prison for an earthquake. Wake up Italy, you’re not the 1600’s anymore.
In 2012 the expiring Kyoto Protocol was extended to 2020, but did global carbon dioxide levels actually fall? Nope. The went up 58%, in huge part due to China’s industrial growth combined with its disregard for the environment.
Meanwhile, the United States is doing okay, with its CO2 production in 2012 at the lowest in 20 years. However, to have meaningful impact in reducing climate change, it will take a true global green movement, which unfortunately will be at least a decade away.
Despite being a year filled with progress, 2012 had its setbacks. Religious extremists violently demonstrated the fundamental tenets of their “religion of peace” in response to a satirical film, and also attempted to assassinate a 15 year old girl who just wanted education for everyone.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, the Israel-Hamas conflict set the world on edge for eight days. And though it paled in comparison to many other issues in the world, the Sandy Hook shooting shook and saddened America, and should lead to gun control being a more important issue.
Overall though, 2012 was a good year. With extraordinary scientific advancements (above), social advancements (though not met worldwide such as in this case or this one), as well as the reelection of President Obama, the year 2012 ends with a world that is more smart, aware, and progressive than it ever was, more potent than ever before to deal with religious extremism, war, and environmental destruction.