Happy New Year! 2009 was a year filled with ups and downs, good news and bad, stellar moments and near subterranean lows. Here is our list of just a few of the moments that stood out both in world news, and here on Inhabitots. Feel free to add your own ‘memorable moments’ to the comments section. And now, let’s welcome 2010 with a glance back at 2009:
JANUARY | OFFHAND SLEEP & THIRD-HAND SMOKE
To kick start the year, scientists published two studies that left many parents dismayed. First, according to research, erratic sleep patterns evident in infants are indicators of a handicap in executive function during the preschool years. Secondly, we learned evidence of the carcinogenic effects ‘third-hand smoke’ has on children (the dangerous residual elements creep into your smoke-free environs via neighbors or the outside world).
FEBRUARY | A SECOND CHANCE AT SECONDHAND
Just as frugality was becoming fashionable, and parents were embracing the idea of secondhand shopping for kids, thrift stores cry foul as new Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations regarding lead threaten to shutter many businesses. Buckling under tremendous public outcry, the CPSC reverses its original mandate pending further investigation.
MARCH | 60 SECONDS AROUND THE WORLD
Earth Hour, a project created by the World Wide Fund for Nature, celebrated its 3rd year. From 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time in each participating country, participants shut off all electronic devices in an effort to raise awareness about energy conservation. The event saw 4,088 cities participating with the Philippines reporting participation by 15 million household members. Will you participate this year?
APRIL | BACK OF THE ELBOW SNEEZING
The H1N1 influenza virus is first detected in Veracruz, Mexico and quickly develops into a worldwide pandemic. As a result, kids everywhere now know the term ‘swine flu,’ a few can even identify the virus by its H1N1 designation. Scores get inoculated with a questionable vaccine, and a new way of containing a sneeze is invented. Remember coughing into the tent? Well, elementary school kids (and their parents alike) now all practice the Dracula Sneeze, safely depositing their cooties into the insides of their elbows.
MAY | NEW YORK’S ECO-PARK OPENS
Friends of the High Line announces the opening of New York’s ambitious Highline Park project. Inhabitat was on the scene to offer exclusive coverage of the event. The buzz of the High Line park opening was so great that when it finally opened the following month, polo-shirted attendants armed with hand counters were needed to ensure that the park, visited by fresh-faced families and camera-toting tourists, would not exceed its capacity (the attendants were also on hand to turn away many four-legged friends).
JUNE | THE MJ LEGACY
The world celebrates the life of Michael Jackson, arguably the first pop icon to embrace climate change (Remember his 1995 hit ‘Earth Song’?), while kids (including one young fan in Brooklyn) are confused by his death. Besides the moonwalk, the popularity of cryogenic freezing (despite rumors of ‘plastination’ he was actually buried) and a lesson in why one should never entertain the idea of a private zoo, he left us with a mantra sung by green activists the world over – “Heal the world make it a better place. For you and for me and the entire human race.”
JULY | WALMART IS SMART
Walmart, once environmentalists’ number one big box eco-baddy, announces a campaign to have every product in its stores (from pinewood cribs to pureed carrots) labeled with a corresponding carbon footprint. The universal rating system would rate products based on “how environmentally and socially sustainable they are.” But just as blurry as a USDA Organic label can be, the jury is still out on how accurate or relevant this labeling will be.
AUGUST | A ‘SIGG’NIFICANT CONFESSION
In ’08 parents averted from the use of plastic bottles (for fear of the dangerous chemicals they leached) opting to use the metal variety instead. SIGG, one of the most popular metal bottle manufacturers, released information confirming what some had feared for a long time… that all SIGG bottles manufactured prior to August of ’08 contain a lining with BPA contaminants. Following, Gaiam, kind of, sort of announces that their bottles are 20 times worse.
SEPTEMBER | THE GREENER WHITE HOUSE
Many feared that with the installation of the inaugural African-American first family, the White House would become decidedly less ‘white.’ Well, as it turns out they were right… but green’s the new color of the once white White House. The White House farmers market project gets a green light, saving the First Lady from the problem of fighting with the first children over “pruney grapes.”
OCTOBER | D.I. WHY?
In a D.I.Y. incident gone doubly awry, the world is transfixed by the story of a boy who took off from his Colorado home in a shimmering homemade balloon. Days later it was revealed that the whole incident was staged by his parents in order to spike ratings for a reality TV show. The publicity stunt cost the parents of the six-year-old, known from then on as ‘Balloon Boy,’ 90 days in prison. And the orchestrator of the hoax is facing an $11,000 fine.
NOVEMBER | RECALL THE RECALLS?
Cribs and blinds were at the top of this year’s product recalls. Stork Craft issued a recall of more than 2 million cribs due to risk of entrapment and suffocation, while a recall of 50 million Roman-style shades and roll-up blinds (for reports of chord strangulation in children) is heralded as the largest in the nation’s history. Other November recalls included hooded sweatshirts, baby hammocks and Maclaren strollers. The Baby Einstein DVDs almost made this list, but that was at the end of October.
DECEMBER | HOPENHAGEN
Our kids will not remember Saturday December 19, 2009 as the day the world unilaterally unified to combat climate change under a binding treaty. But on this date, the US and China, currently the world’s largest producers of environmental pollution, agreed that something had to be done. While it’s true that it was more like a gentleman’s handshake to meet at a later date and agree in a more binding way, at least it’s a step in the right direction.