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Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year in Retrospect

  1. A retrospective year of nostalgia: 50 years have officially elapsed since the dawn of the Space Age, ushered in when Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 – a bleeping aluminium sphere the size of a basketball – became the first man-made object successfully launched into the Earth's orbit on October 4, 1957A retrospective year of nostalgia: 50 years have officially elapsed since the dawn of the Space Age, ushered in when Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 – a bleeping aluminium sphere the size of a basketball – became the first man-made object successfully launched into the Earth's orbit on October 4, 1957.

  2. A worrying year for this humble rock we call home. Whether or not you accept climate change is caused by mankind, its effects are no longer invisible: mountain glaciers are melting; the polar ice caps are receding; droughts are baking Australia and sub-Saharan Africa; floods are devastating parts of Asia and Central America is being battered by powerful hurricanes. And as the world continues to warm, such events will only become more frequent – ultimately threatening the survival of hundreds of millions of peopleA worrying year for this humble rock we call home. Whether or not you accept climate change is caused by mankind, its effects are no longer invisible: mountain glaciers are melting; the polar ice caps are receding; droughts are baking Australia and sub-Saharan Africa; floods are devastating parts of Asia and Central America is being battered by powerful hurricanes. And as the world continues to warm, such events will only become more frequent – ultimately threatening the survival of hundreds of millions of people.

  3. A sad year for conservation: the rare baiji river dolphin, which the Chinese called A sad year for conservation: the rare baiji river dolphin, which the Chinese called "goddess of the Yangtze", is now almost certainly extinct – the first aquatic vertebrate species to disappear from the Earth in 50 years, and the first large mammal to fall victim to human impact.

  4. A calculating year for carbon emissions: the LEDs used in this year's Christmas lights on Regent Street in London, which use a fifth of the energy of traditional lightbulbs, were 100% recyclable. As with all of the West End Christmas lights, the Regent Street lights are carbon offset through PURE, the first UK registered charity dedicated to combating climate change by carbon offsetting. The lights are also reactive – switching on when people walk underneath themA calculating year for carbon emissions: the LEDs used in this year's Christmas lights on Regent Street in London, which use a fifth of the energy of traditional lightbulbs, were 100% recyclable. As with all of the West End Christmas lights, the Regent Street lights are carbon offset through PURE, the first UK registered charity dedicated to combating climate change by carbon offsetting. The lights are also reactive – switching on when people walk underneath them.

  5. A celebratory year for Knut maniacs: hand-raised by zookeepers after being rejected by his mother, the polar bear cub celebrated his first birthday in December. In the past 12 months, Knut has grown from a 28oz ball of photogenic white fluff into a boisterous 17st 3lb adolescent bear. The poster-bear for the green movement, he has had more than 2.5 million visitors, boosted the profits of Berlin Zoo by almost £7m and appeared in logo form on everything from cuddly toys to credit cardsA celebratory year for Knut maniacs: hand-raised by zookeepers after being rejected by his mother, the polar bear cub celebrated his first birthday in December. In the past 12 months, Knut has grown from a 28oz ball of photogenic white fluff into a boisterous 17st 3lb adolescent bear. The poster-bear for the green movement, he has had more than 2.5 million visitors, boosted the profits of Berlin Zoo by almost £7m and appeared in logo form on everything from cuddly toys to credit cards.

  6. A delightful year for decadence: 25,000 US dollars: the cost of the world's most expensive dessert, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate sundae, created by a restaurant in New York, includes a blend of 28 rare, exotic cocoas, and is topped with whipped cream, sprinkled with 23-carat edible gold dust and a La Madeline au Truffle. Along with the chocolate treat, the eater gets to take home the goblet it is served in, the diamond encrusted 18 carat gold spoon used to eat it and a gold ladies' braceletA delightful year for decadence: 25,000 US dollars: the cost of the world's most expensive dessert, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate sundae, created by a restaurant in New York, includes a blend of 28 rare, exotic cocoas, and is topped with whipped cream, sprinkled with 23-carat edible gold dust and a La Madeline au Truffle. Along with the chocolate treat, the eater gets to take home the goblet it is served in, the diamond encrusted 18 carat gold spoon used to eat it and a gold ladies' bracelet.

  7. A celebratory year of reunions: the surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for the first time since the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, in tribute to the music mogul Ahmet Ertegün. Some 20 million people competed in an internet lottery for the 18,000 tickets to the show, which was so successful that fans and critics are begging the rock legends for a world tourA celebratory year of reunions: the surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for the first time since the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, in tribute to the music mogul Ahmet Ertegün. Some 20 million people competed in an internet lottery for the 18,000 tickets to the show, which was so successful that fans and critics are begging the rock legends for a world tour.

  8. A successful year for reading: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the series about the boy wizard by J K Rowling was 608 pages long, but children and adults rushed to read it. Released globally in 93 countries, Deathly Hallows broke sales records as the fastest-selling book ever, selling more than eleven million copies in the first twenty-four hours following its release in JulyA successful year for reading: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the series about the boy wizard by J K Rowling was 608 pages long, but children and adults rushed to read it. Released globally in 93 countries, Deathly Hallows broke sales records as the fastest-selling book ever, selling more than eleven million copies in the first twenty-four hours following its release in July.

  9. A triumphant year for imperialism: the pint, the pound and the mile were saved when the European Commission gave the UK a permanent right to hang onto imperial measures. In a country where A triumphant year for imperialism: the pint, the pound and the mile were saved when the European Commission gave the UK a permanent right to hang onto imperial measures. In a country where "going for a pint" is part of the language, the Commission's consultation with the nation found no appetite for popping down the pub for a quick litre. Imperial measures will now co-exist happily alongside their metric cousins with no fear of any further interference from Brussels.

  10. A dangerous year for thieves: the titanic price tag of 62,000 British sterling pounds attached to a pair of ruby, sapphire and diamond-encrusted Rene Caovilla sandals at their London launch in Harrods, prompting the store to adopt the extreme measure of bringing in a live – and potentially deadly – Egyptian cobra to patrol the haute couture shoe counterA dangerous year for thieves: the titanic price tag of 62,000 British sterling pounds attached to a pair of ruby, sapphire and diamond-encrusted Rene Caovilla sandals at their London launch in Harrods, prompting the store to adopt the extreme measure of bringing in a live – and potentially deadly – Egyptian cobra to patrol the haute couture shoe counter.

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