Highlights of 2023: Migration, Mega-Fines, and Barbie

A picture taken on December 10, 2013 shows Ethiopian immigrants returning from Saudi Arabia arriving at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. The number of migrants reaching Saudi Arabia appears to have declined in recent months, several smugglers told AFP, though it is unclear if that is because fewer Ethiopians are trying to cross or because they don't make it.
JENNY VAUGHAN / AFP
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SIZZLING temperatures, millions fleeing their homes, multitudes flocking to a movie about a doll — 2023 was another year of extremes.

In 2023, the world experienced a series of remarkable events and milestones that left a lasting impact. From the ongoing global displacement crisis to record-breaking heatwaves, here are 10 standout numbers that defined the year.

The Great Displacement – 115 Million People

Before the Israel-Gaza war began on October 7, the number of people displaced by conflict and humanitarian crises was already at a record high. By the end of September, 114 million people had been driven from their homes due to wars in Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a humanitarian crisis in Taliban-run Afghanistan, among other factors. Since then, at least 1.9 million Gazans have joined the ranks of the displaced. These staggering numbers highlight the urgent need for global cooperation and support for those affected by displacement.

Hot as Hell – Hottest Year on Record

2023 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. According to the European Union’s climate monitor Copernicus, one heat record after another tumbled throughout the year. The northern hemisphere experienced its hottest summer, while the southern hemisphere saw temperature records shattered during the winter. For instance, Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, recorded its warmest August 1 with temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius. These alarming temperature trends underscore the pressing need to address climate change and its devastating consequences.

Rugby Glory – South Africa’s Fourth Title

The Rugby World Cup took center stage in 2023, with defending champions South Africa securing a nail-biting victory against New Zealand in the final. This triumph marked South Africa’s record-breaking fourth title and highlighted the unifying power of rugby in a multiracial South Africa. Rugby, once the sport of the white minority under apartheid, has become a symbol of national pride and unity. Captain Siya Kolisi emphasized the significance of this victory, stating, “It is not just about the game. Our country goes through such a lot.”

Indians Outnumber Chinese – The World’s Most Populous Country

In mid-2023, India surpassed China to become the world’s most populous country. With a population of nearly 1.43 billion, India accounted for a significant portion of the world’s 8 billion inhabitants, according to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. China’s population, which peaked at 1.426 billion in 2022, has started to decline for the first time in six decades. Experts predict that by 2100, China’s population may be only half that of India. These demographic shifts have far-reaching implications for both countries and the global landscape.

Fossil Fuel Frenzy – Record-Breaking Coal Consumption

In 2023, global consumption of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, reached an all-time high of 8.5 billion tons, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). This alarming statistic poses a significant challenge to global efforts to combat climate change. However, there was a glimmer of hope as nations participating in the UN’s annual climate summit agreed to “transition away” from coal, oil, and gas. This historic agreement marks a crucial step towards a more sustainable and greener future.

Billion-Dollar Barbie – A Cinematic Success

The release of Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster film “Barbie” provided a much-needed boost to cinemas worldwide. Starring Margot Robbie as the iconic doll, the film quickly surpassed the billion-dollar mark at the box office, making it the fastest film in Warner Bros.’ 100-year history to achieve this milestone. Additionally, Gerwig became the highest-grossing woman director ever, solidifying her position as a trailblazer in the film industry. This achievement showcases the enduring popularity and cultural impact of the beloved Barbie franchise.

Tennis Titan – Novak Djokovic’s Record-Breaking Year

Serbian tennis legend Novak Djokovic continued his remarkable career by adding three more Grand Slam titles to his collection in 2023. With victories at the Australian Open, the French Open, and the US Open, Djokovic now holds a record-breaking 24 men’s singles titles, surpassing Spain’s Rafael Nadal’s 22 titles. This extraordinary feat places Djokovic on par with Australia’s Margaret Court, who won 24 singles Grand Slam titles in the 1960s and 1970s, making him a joint record-holder for both men and women.

Mercury Mania – Freddie Mercury’s Legacy

In September, a record-breaking 2,000 bidders from 61 countries participated in an auction of Freddie Mercury memorabilia in London. The highlight of the auction was the piano that the Queen frontman used to compose most of his greatest songs, including the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The baby grand piano fetched over 3 million pounds, reflecting the enduring popularity and impact of Mercury’s music. The auction also included various items, from a moustache comb to the door of Mercury’s garden, showcasing the global fascination with the legendary musician.

In conclusion, 2023 was a year marked by extreme events and remarkable achievements. From the global displacement crisis to record-breaking temperatures and sporting triumphs, these standout numbers provide a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of the year. As we move forward, it is crucial to address these issues collectively and work towards a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Source: The Manila Times

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