OK, so I’m a bit late with this, but I am a firm believer in thinking before speaking or writing. That doesn’t mean I am always able to reflect before speaking, but it is a goal.
On the world stage, Angela Merkel is one of my People of the Year 2011. She is one strong woman and a role model for young women around the world. She was successful in holding the European Union and the Euro together against dreadful odds. Granted, it is possible that things could still crumble. She is arguably the most powerful person in the world. She presided over the government that made the very intelligent decision to eliminate nuclear power from Germany. Truth be told, I may not agree with all her politics (slowed phase out of nuclear power, for instance) but her success is undeniable.
Related to Chancellor Merkel are the small scale ecological pioneers of Germany, another of my People of the Year 2011. Germany has become a leader in implementation of solar power despite being in a higher latitude (less sunshine) than more likely candidates.
The word ‘ecology‘ was coined in 1866 by the German biologist Ernst Haeckl. Germany is investing heavily in alternative energy sources and they are being embraced by many small entrepreneurs and private citizens. Twenty percent of Germany’s energy came from renewable sources in 2011 and that amount is scheduled to increase. Compare that to only 14.3% renewable in the US.
My couple of the year 2011 are also my Americans of the year: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Astronaut Mark Kelly. They represent what is best in America, both incredibly brave in their personal and public lives. Gabrielle Giffords was attacked by a crazed gunman in Tucson Arizon last January. Six other citizens were murdered at the same time. She has made a remarkable recovery from a gunshot to the brain.
Astronauts represent the most publicly brave persons imaginable. Since visiting Kennedy Space Center in Florida, more than ever before I am impressed by the enormous courage it takes to blast into the vast expanses of space in a relatively small metal vehicle.
As I write this I heard on the news that Arizona Congresswoman Giffords is resigning to work on her further recovery. Best wishes and a big thank you to her.
Sadly now I must name my worst persons of the year. They are the officials at Tepco who presided over the Fukishima nuclear meltdown, the world’s single worst ecological disaster ever. Just thinking about this makes me sick. While these Tepco bigwigs did not cause the earthquake or the tsunami which followed, they were the folks that managed the nuclear plants, who decided to build nuclear power plants in an earthquake and tsunami zone and not maintain them properly, who obfuscated and lied about the severity of the problem. So now we have a radiation polluted Pacific Ocean, millions of sea creatures have died. More people will die as a result of this “accident” than were killed by the regimes of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot combined. What ever happened to falling on the sword?