We are all living through history, but the immediate experience of events is often quite different from the way it all gets sorted out in textbooks decades or even centuries later. It's sometimes hard to know which current events will be truly historic - although in some cases, it's glaringly obvious.
From Russia's invasion of Ukraine, to the repeal of constitutional protections for abortion in the US, to a hopeful new development in fusion power, plenty of major events unfolded in 2022. Vote up the items below that you expect to see kids reading about in their history books a few decades hence.
- 1380 VOTES
Russia Invades Ukraine
The Russo-Ukrainian war had been a slow burn since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, but a major escalation took place on February 24, 2022, when Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of the neighboring country.
The conflict continues to rage as of December 2022, with Russia's initial advance suffering setbacks from resilient Ukrainian opposition. Knock-on effects include the fleeing of millions of refugees from Ukraine to other countries; the isolation of Russia from the world economy despite its important fuel trade in Europe; and involvement of many countries (including the US) that support Ukraine with armaments but seek to avoid a direct conflict with the nuclear-armed Russia.
On December 21, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy flew to Washington, DC, to address Congress and appeal for sustained support in the conflict.
- 2361 VOTES
Queen Elizabeth II Passes At Age 96
After 70 years on the British throne, Queen Elizabeth II passed on September 8, 2022; she was 96. The longest-reigning monarch in British history, she had been a princess during WWII and worked with Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the early years of her reign.
Despite the fluctuating popularity of the British Royal Family, Elizabeth herself met with little criticism and was seen as a force of stability anchoring British society in changing times. With her passing, her son Charles acceded to the throne, becoming King Charles III. This period of transition could lead to a decrease in the number of countries participating in the British Commonwealth.
- 3332 VOTES
The US Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade
After almost 50 years, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion, was overturned in the 2022 decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. The question of abortion's legality was returned to the state governments, with no federal guarantee.
The decision's effects will continue to play out for years to come. In addition to the immediate impact on women, their unborn fetuses, and abortion providers, political consequences have arisen. The Dobbs case helped galvanize the Democratic vote in the 2022 midterm elections, leading to a better result than is usually seen for the party in power during a midterm.
- 4213 VOTES
NASA's DART Spacecraft Successfully Alters An Asteroid's Trajectory
An asteroid crashing into Earth isn't just a subject for a blockbuster sci-fi movie; it has actually happened in the past, and with calamitous consequences (at least if you were a Tyrannosaurus Rex). So it's no surprise that space agencies are looking for ways to divert any future celestial objects that might be on a collision course with our planet.
A key step forward happened in 2022 with a successful test of NASA's capability to redirect an oncoming asteroid. The mission, called DART (for Double Asteroid Redirection Test), involved sending an unmanned spacecraft to collide with the asteroid Dimorphos. The spacecraft struck the asteroid on September 26, and subsequent observation verified that Dimorphos was, indeed, sent off course. According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson:
This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us. NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet. This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity, demonstrating commitment from NASA's exceptional team and partners from around the world.
- 5229 VOTES
Crippling Inflation Strikes The World Economy
People worldwide were hit hard in 2022 by skyrocketing increases in goods, services, and general cost-of-living expenses, and the US was not spared. Various factors - including aftershocks from the COVID-19 pandemic, the energy crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and oil production cuts by OPEC - contributed to the problem.
Americans were particularly hard hit by rising gasoline prices, which peaked in June at an average of $5 per gallon (varying by state). Partly as a result, the Biden administration saw its approval ratings plummeting through most of 2022.
- 6241 VOTES
Iran's Morality Police Trigger Massive Protests
On September 16, 2022, an Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini died in custody after having been arrested by so-called “Guidance Patrols,” a police force meant to enforce Islamic standards of dress and behavior. Amini was allegedly detained for not wearing a head scarf; there were allegations that she was beaten by police, leading to her demise.
The incident triggered a massive wave of protests throughout Iran. Large street demonstrations at all the major cities have taken place, as well as more violent clashes between protesters and police. Abroad, the Iranian soccer team refused to sing their national anthem at the World Cup in Qatar. At least one protester has been executed, and conflicting reports exist as to whether Iran's government has abolished the Guidance Patrols.
It remains to be seen whether the protests will continue or die down, but the Iranian government has likely not been this shaken by popular action since the 1979 revolution that replaced the Shah with the Ayatollahs.