21st century

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Millennium: 3rd millennium
Centuries: 20th century · 21st century · 22nd century
Decades: 2000s 2010s 2020s 2030s 2040s
2050s 2060s 2070s 2080s 2090s
Categories: BirthsDeaths
EstablishmentsDisestablishments

The 21st century is the current century of the Common Era in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001 and will end December 31, 2100.

Technologically, the major differences to date from the 20th century are the changes brought about by the digital revolution of the 1980s and 1990s, and particularly the Internet. While the 20th century was marked by the rapid development of travel fueled mostly by petroleum, the 21st century is marked by concern over how to cope with consequences of pollution and resource depletion.

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[edit] Pronunciation

Regarding pronunciation of 21st century years, academics suggest that since former years such as 1805 and 1905 were commonly pronounced as "eighteen oh" or "nineteen oh" five, the year 2005 should naturally have been pronounced as "twenty oh-five".[1] A less common variation would have been "twenty nought-five". Many experts agree that majority usage of "two thousand (and) X" is a result of influences from the Y2K hype, as well as the way "2001" was pronounced in the influential 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Many people, ranging from linguistic and academic experts to Internet bloggers, predict that the "twenty X" pronunciation method will eventually prevail, but a timeframe as to when this change will occur often differs. The year 2010 is suggested by many,[2][3] and the Vancouver Olympics, taking place in 2010, is being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten olympics", while 2011[1] and 2013 are popular as well. The latest timeframes for change are usually placed at 2020.[1]

[edit] Important developments, events, achievements

[edit] Politics

[edit] Science and technology

[edit] Space exploration

[edit] Medicine

[edit] Personal technology

[edit] Other

[edit] Conflicts and civil unrest

[edit] Worldwide deaths from war and terrorist attacks

[edit] Natural disasters

[edit] Sports

[edit] Issues and concerns

There are several points-of-view pertaining to the following items, all of which should be considered accordingly.

Issues that have been frequently discussed and debated so far in this century include:

  • Globalization. Advances in telecommunications and transportation, the expansion of capitalism and democracy, and free trade agreements have resulted in unprecedented global economic and cultural integration. This has caused (and is continuing to cause) economic and cultural shifts which have been the subject of considerable controversy.
  • Overpopulation. The United Nations estimates that world population will reach 9.1 billion by mid-century. Such growth raises questions of ecological sustainability and creates many economic and political disruptions. In response, many countries have adopted policies which either force or encourage their citizens to have fewer children, and others have limited immigration. Considerable debate exists over what the ultimate carrying capacity of the planet may be; whether or not population growth containment policies are necessary; to what degree growth can safely occur thanks to increased economic and ecological efficiency; and how markets should accommodate demographic shifts. Evidence suggests that developed countries (such as Japan) suffer population implosion, and the population debate is strongly tied with poverty.
  • Poverty. Poverty remains the root cause of many of the world's other ills, including famine, disease, and insufficient education. Poverty contains many self-reinforcing elements (for instance, poverty can make education an unaffordable luxury, which tends to result in continuing poverty) that various aid groups hope to rectify in this century. Microcredit lending has also started to gain a profile as a useful anti-poverty tool.
  • Political issues, such as media content, gay rights, and abortion continue from the 1990s.
  • Disease. AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria each kill over a million people annually. HIV remains without a cure or vaccine, and is growing rapidly in India and much of the African continent. Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern for organisms such as tuberculosis. Other diseases, such as SARS, ebola, and flu variations, are also causes for concern. The World Health Organization has warned of a possible coming flu pandemic resulting from bird flu mutations.
  • War and terrorism. Active conflicts continue around the world, including civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the largest war since World War II), Chechnya, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, Senegal, Colombia, and Sudan (mainly in Darfur). The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered invasions of Afghanistan and partially and controversially Iraq. The War on Terrorism has seen controversies over civil liberties, accusations of torture, continued terrorist attacks and ongoing instability, violence, and military occupation. Violence continues in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Considerable concern remains about nuclear proliferation, especially in Iran and North Korea, and the availability of weapons of mass destruction to rogue groups.
  • Global warming. Most climate scientists concur that the earth is currently undergoing significant anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming. [3] The resulting economic and ecological costs are hard to predict, and by the end of the 21st century could be quite severe. However, predictions have become more dramatic in recent years. Some scientists argue that human-induced global warming risks considerable losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services unless considerable sociopolitical changes are introduced, particularly in patterns of mass consumption. On the other hand, climate change has already begun to wreak havoc on entire communities on the fringes of the developing world.
  • Other environmental changes. Trends such as increased pollution, deforestation and biodiversity loss occurring in the 20th century are likely to continue into the 21st century.
  • Global power. Issues surrounding the cultural, economic, and military dominance of the United States and its role in the world community have become even more pointed given its recent military activities, problematic relations with the United Nations, disagreement over several international treaties, and its economic policies with regard to globalization. Integration of the European Union and the African Union have proceeded.
  • Intellectual property. The increasing popularity of digital formats for entertainment media such as movies and music, and the ease of copying and distributing it via the Internet and peer-to-peer networks, has raised concerns in the media industry about copyright infringement. Much debate is proceeding about the proper bounds between protection of copyright, trademark and patent rights versus fair use and the public domain, where some argue that such laws have shifted greatly towards intellectual property owners and away from the interests of the general public in recent years, while others say that such legal change is needed to deal with the threat of new technologies against the rights of authors and artists (or, as others put it, against the outmoded business models of the current entertainment industry). Domain name "cybersquatting" and access to patented drugs to combat epidemics in third-world countries are other IP concerns.
  • Technology developments show no sign of ending. Communications and control technology continues to augment the intelligence of individual humans, collections of humans, and machines. Cultures are forced into the position of sharply defining humanity and determining boundaries on desire, thought, communication, behavior, and manufacturing. Some, notably Ray Kurzweil have predicted that by the middle of the century there will be a Technological Singularity if artificial intelligence that outsmart humans is created. If these AIs then create even smarter AI's technological change will accelerate in ways that are impossible for us to foresee. (However, gradual and simultaneous use of AI technology to increase our own intelligence might prevent this from ever occurring.)
  • Fossil fuels are becoming scarce and more expensive, due to the escalating demand for petroleum ("oil") and oil-based products such as gasoline and kerosene, unmatched by production. Discovery of new oil fields has not been sufficient to sustain current levels of production, and some fear that the earth may be running out of economically viable oil.

The United Nations lists global issues on its agenda and lists a set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to attempt to address some of these issues.

[edit] Astronomical events

[edit] Significant figures

Revisions and sourced additions are welcome.

[edit] Popular culture in the remaining years of the 21st century

[edit] Television and film

[edit] Computer and video games

[edit] Novels

[edit] Decades and years

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links