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5 Gold Rings – 2012 in review

December 29, 2012

opening-ceremony-olympics-2012-five-rings

On the fifth day of Christmas 2012, here are some thoughts on the last year …

My enduring memory of these last twelve months will be Danny Boyle’s awe-inspiring creativity with the Olympic rings at the London 2012 opening ceremony.

From the way the idyllic countryside scene was transformed to depict the Industrial Revolution and the hot metal seemingly flowed to form gigantic glowing rings which were then raised above the stadium and fused together was one of the most amazing theatrical displays I have ever seen. It set the tone for what I will always remember as a wonderful golden period for the British people during a back-drop of financial depression and tough times.

Ring of steel

Post 9/11, we have no choice but to think the unthinkable when it comes to how and where the next ‘terrorist spectacular’ might hit. Seb Coe has described the immense pressure and relief that it didn’t happen at London 2012. As so many of us have those images of fully fueled passenger jets being flown into the twin towers engrained in our memories, it’s not hard to imagine the scale of carnage and outrage that could be created by flying a plane or two into an Olympic park. Fortunately London is used to creating a ‘Ring of Steel’ around itself following many years of IRA bombing campaigns and the positioning of HMS Ocean in the Thames and anti-aircraft missile sites around the park made a very visible statement to would-be attackers that any threat from the air or a Mumbai style ground assault would be met with ultimate force.

The killing of Bin Laden last year and the focus on drone warfare to target known terrorists would appear to have made the world a safer place in 2012 but in the same way the Western world has evolved its tactics you can be sure that those determined to cause terrorist atrocities are evolving theirs too and leveraging the hatred generated by the drone operations. The unfortunate result is a perpetual war that is being fought on many fronts, some highly visible like Afghanistan and some completely hidden like increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks.

Ring of life

The ring of life that created fossil fuels and has seen mankind’s addiction to burning them in ever larger amounts looks set to deliver ever-increasing amounts of payback over this century. Seemingly we just can’t get a grip on ourselves and despite all the warnings and talk about the need to take action to prevent catastrophic levels of warming our dangerous emissions get ever higher. The facts, feedback loops and predictions are staring us in the face but we appear to be frozen in indecision like rabbits in headlights. As this article from the beginning of 2012 highlights, we simply do not understand climate physics well enough to be sure that human generated emissions won’t lead to a catastrophic runaway greenhouse effect. Predictions for emissions in 2012 have them rising by 2.6 percent which will push us even closer to the upper end of climate change models during this decade.

Ring of destruction

At over 1000 miles wide and moving at over 100 miles per hour, Hurricane Sandy has been described as the largest storm in history and the second costliest hurricane to hit the US after Katrina.

IDL TIFF file

(GOES-13) captured this natural-color image of Hurricane Sandy at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (17:45 Universal Time) on October 28, 2012

Whether or not our world has been subject to such an enormous ‘ring of destruction’ in its turbulent past is debatable but it is undoubtedly the biggest we have seen in our lifetimes and the stuff of Hollywood blockbuster nightmares only on this occasion captured in an all too real form on people’s phones. Trees crushing once peaceful, leafy neighbourhoods, electricity sub stations exploding, whole houses being swept inland and subways filling with water – the sort of things that would take a big chunk of a Hollywood effects budget to create. Although the economic impact of this latest hurricane was very high, the advance preparations kept the death toll to around 100. Elsewhere in the world, another ‘ring of destruction’ in the form of Typhoon Bopha this month claimed ten times as many lives as it slammed into poor and less well prepared parts of the Philippines – If you blinked you would have missed the news coverage of that event …

Ring of power

A steady groundswell of information and commentary during 2012 has built on what started in the US as Occupy Wall Street towards the end of 2011. For me, two things have brought home the sheer level of disparity we are experiencing in the world today, reading a book called Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt and watching the excellent documentary Park Avenue – Money, Power and the American Dream.

2008_Top1percentUSAAs I have made my way through the world over the last 30 years in relationships and the workplace I have been getting a growing sense of unease that the cards are stacked against the majority of us. It is becoming clear just how successful the 1% have been in exploiting the 99% of us since the start of the 1980s and it will be my generation and those of my children who are going the feel the brunt of it. Hopefully, growing awareness of such inbalance will help drive fairer wealth distribution as this century progresses and, like the climate change prediction models, we will start to see a levelling off and eventual drop in these steep climbing graphs.

Ring of truth

This year has been dominated by the Leveson Inquiry into the murky practices of the British press. Personally, I am on the side of those who say that the press should be stronger not weaker in this country. Some of things that have been coming to light in the wake of financial meltdown beg the question where were all the investigative journalists while our money was being frittered and squirreled away? The US press is far more forgiving than the British press and any idea that our systems should become more like theirs is not a good thing. It seems our press have been overly distracted by the trivialities of celebrity lives and some of it’s more dubious paparazzi techniques have spilled over into other areas of news reporting

Ringing off now …

Speaking personally, this last year has been a bit of a rollercoaster one, with big highs and lows as I have persevered in launching my own venture.

Two major high points are encapsulated in the following video clips. The first is of my daughters riding across a deserted beach in Cornwall in October and the second is a compilation video used to help celebrate the work of my father at an event organised for his 80th birthday in November.

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