The World in 2021: five stories to watch out for | The Economist
Top five stories for 2021
In 2020 one story has consumed everything but in 2021 the world will start looking to life beyond the pandemic.
so behind the headlines
What are the other moments you should be watching out for in the year ahead?
From the launch of an asteroid smashing spaceship to the event that could help the world turn a corner on climate change.
Here are five stories set to shape the post-covered world.
Democracy under threat
In 2021 democracy will be especially tested there will be an abundance of elections. many postponed from 2020 by the pandemic. In fragile democracies autocratic leaders was use the excuse of Covid 19 to crack down on opposition such as in Uganda which was due to hold its presidential election in January.
The electric revolution revs up
2021 will be a tipping point for electric cars as more manufacturers roll out their electric range. suddenly there’s going to be a huge array of electric vehicles for people to choose from.
In the autumn the gas guzzling suv brand of general motors hummer will start production on all electric cars. At the top of the year Elon Musk’s tesla will launch its futuristic looking cyber truck.
Elon Musk will present the cyber truck. The cyber truck may not be to everyone’s taste.
We think that’s significant because the American market the real profits there are to be made on pickups. So tesla will come out with their own version of the pickup the cyber truck. The electric hummer is trying to tap into that market it’s that America’s biggest and most profitable market investment in the electric revolution has surged over 250 firms are currently manufacturing electric vehicles. 47 battery factories are under construction.
Tesla, the market leader has seen its share price surge. It’s now so valuable it’s been added to the s p 500. America’s main stock market index putting it In the same brackets as companies like apple and Microsoft. Tesla is a remarkable story no car company has gone from nothing to where tesla is in. such a a rapid period of time. so you have to take your hat off to Elon Musk for doing that.
Tesla’s success convinced established car makers that there was a market. For electric cars the car companies made the biggest bet on the future. is Volkswagen which has invested huge sums but all car companies are introducing electric models.
Every week you hear about a new plan to electrify an old model or bring out a new model from various car companies so it really is picking up the pace although all car sales dropped in 2020 in 2021 they are expected to
Pick up again and sales of battery-powered vehicles are projected to grow rapidly over the next decade 2021. just the start if more governments commit to future bans on the sale of petrol and diesel cars. The growth in the electric vehicle sector could accelerate even more.
In November all eyes are going to be on Glasgow Scotland. As world leaders meet for the un’s global climate change summit referred to as cop 26 it had been originally scheduled for 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic.
If it had gone ahead as planned cop 26 would have marked five years since. The Paris agreement built into the Paris agreement was this ratchet mechanism that. basically said governments need to every five years increase the promises to cut emissions. The Paris agreement set a target of limiting global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. But experts predict that the pledges governments made in 2015 would not be enough to achieve this target. so this ratchet mechanism the purpose of cop26 is really to get closer to this target of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius.
what’s needed for that are bigger better promises to cut national emissions. It looks likely that 2021 will be the boldest year ever for tackling climate change. So the eu has said that it will reach net zero emissions by 2050. Climate change is caused by us so in other words it’s up to us to make a turnaround.
They have an expansive package of policies that they will be expanding on and agreeing on in 2021 for how they head towards that goal. The surprise announcement really of this year came in September when xi jinping announced that china would be heading towards carbon neutrality by 2060. The details of how china does this are still unclear and are anticipated at some point in 2021. In America Donald trump has undermined global efforts to tackle global warming.
Trump says, we are going to put our coal miners back to work. In 2021 this could all change.
Joe Biden Says, what is our mandate? I believe it’s this. The battle to save our planet by getting climate under control.
Joe Biden is going to mark a real U-turn in particular American foreign climate policy.
Biden has promised to put America back into the Paris agreement pretty much as soon as he enters the oval office. As such America will once again be influencing global climate politics.
America is the world’s second biggest emitter Joe Biden has promised to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. His greatest challenge however is getting these ambitious pledges through congress. There is a lot of ease in making these long-term promises.
It’s a lot harder to back those up with the real policies at home that are going to achieve them. But having the European union the united states china all headed towards some kind of mid-century target 2050 2060 eliminating their missions should give confidence to the rest of the countries that they can also amp up their target. So all of that put together means that 2021 could really mark a turning point in international climate negotiations.
China vs Hollywood: battle of the box offices
The biggest in the world for a century Hollywood has ruled the world now it’s china’s turn.
Hollywood was the first kind of global truly global film industry which exported worldwide and it has held that dominance for a long time now with um china becoming the biggest box office.
Defending the planet
While much of next year will be focused on protecting the world from dangers on earth. Some scientists will be focusing on how to defend the planet from threats in outer space. In July 2021 NASA will launch the world’s first trial in planetary defense. Basically we’re purposely slamming a spacecraft into an asteroid to move it a little bit.
And this is the sort of thing that you might want to do if an asteroid was on a course to hit the earth. This might sound like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster but the threat of an asteroid hitting earth is real. A tiny asteroid streaking across southern Russia.
just seven years ago an undetected meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk injuring at least 1 200 people.
You think the Chelyabinsk impact really brought a lot of visibility to the fact that this is something that happens to the earth all of the time. If something like that happens over a large city you can get this sort of unfortunate devastation. Something that’s tell your bank’s size happens every few decades to maybe 100 years or so.
As you go up to something that’s a bit bigger sort of 160 meters that’s more rare but the amount of damage that it would cost could potentially wipe out a large region perhaps a small country if it was over one of those. This is a rare event but the consequences are so big and devastating that it really makes sense to take a step to do something about it.
Nasa’s double asteroid redirection test or dart will practice defending earth by altering the course of an asteroid using what’s known as kinetic impact or technology. This asteroid is not a threat to the earth it’s not going to hit the earth in the foreseeable future but we do know that earth is hit by asteroids all the time and so we really want to take this first step to develop the technology to do something about that if we needed to in the future.
The target is the asteroid didimas which is orbited by a smaller asteroid demorphis. The dart spacecraft will hit the moonlet adjusting its path and shortening its orbit by several minutes. The impact will happen in 2022 when the asteroid is close enough to earth for scientists to be able to study the change in momentum using powerful telescopes. The dart mission is just one part of a wider worldwide effort in planetary defense.
knowing where everything is is really a crucial foundation for planetary defenses finding all the asteroids tracking them and then being ready to do something about them. In order to take that next step and turn what was science fiction into a reality of being able to do something about asteroids. The probability of a giant asteroid hitting earth is extremely small but if 2020 has shown anything it’s that it pays to be prepared for the unexpected.
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