Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year

While the world is waiting for Donald Trump to take office we should not forget other upcoming events or ongoing issues. One note recently published by the New York Times about climatic change nearly swept me off my feet.

© M. Lourdes
Warm temperatures in the Arctic in recent months could lead to record-low levels of ice. In mid-November 2016, parts of the Arctic were more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than observed averages, scientists said. Over all, the last year broke the Arctic’s record for the warmest year. “We’re going to be watching the summer of 2017 very closely,” one scientist said.

Watching in 2017 is a good thing but we all note that some areas of our globe are falling dry while others are haunted by heavy rainfalls and flooding. What will be the effect of those observations on the ongoing global migration of people? Are the countermeasures against climate change agreed upon by the world community in Paris coming too late? Although I read that President Trump cannot revoke the Paris Agreement, will his administration implement the agreed climate protection goals according to schedule?

The president-elect said: "There is no global anthem. No global currency. No certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag and that flag is the American flag," he continued. "From now on it is going to be: America First ... Never anyone again will any other interests come before the interest of the American people. It is not going to happen again."

2017 will be a year of elections in Europe starting in the Netherlands on March 15. Geert Wilders and his populist Party for Freedom will certainly gain more votes than in previous elections. This is followed on April 23 by the French presidential election where Front National's and populist Marine Le Pen stands a good chance of winning. On September 14 or 21 we shall have general elections in Germany and it is certain that the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) will be presented in our new Bundestag. Aren't we lucky that up to now the AfD is lacking a charismatic leader? Fake news and trumpism (emphasizing national interests and fighting European integration) will dominate the election campaigns of all populist movements. And it is all good, for the elections are democratic.

The other day in an editorial coming out as an avowed defender of democracy a left leaning German journalist had an intuition: What I really mean and always meant is a liberal democracy.

In 2016 we read and heard over and over again that we must conserve and even defend our precious catalogue of Western values. How will the traditional parties withstand populism or will they somehow bashfully jump on the bandwagon?

The New Year will be an exciting one.

In the German way: I wish you all a healthy 2017.

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