While most people would be unsure about what 2008 has for them in its kitty, there are certain developments relating to science and environment that they would definitely see this year.
This year will be observed as the United Nation’s International Year of the Potato. It is in line with a suggestion made by Peru’s government at the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in November 2005.
A decision in this regard was taken not because this crop is in any sort of danger, but rather to highlight its usefulness as a resource to alleviate world poverty.
“(The potato) produces more nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop,” Nature magazine quoted the UN resolution as stating.
The UN has also declared 2008 to be the International Year of Planet Earth, which aims to give more exposure to Earth scientists and their work. The funding for it began in 2007, and will last until 2009.
Year 2008 has also been declared to be the UN’s International Year of Sanitation, with a view to raising awareness of the plight of some 41 per cent of the world’s population, which does not have access to basic sanitation.
One of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals is to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in this number by 2015.
This year will also be observed as the Year of the Frog, in order to prevent 500 frog species from being extinct. “Largely our campaign is targeted at the zoo community,” said Kevin Zippel, program director for Amphibian Ark, the international conservation organisation behind this concept.
The year of the frog campaign is aiming to raise $50 million to try to save frogs. “We have pretty lofty goals,” said Zippel, adding that the year would be a success even if just one of those 500 species were saved.
Besides, the International Coral Reef Initiative has announced that 2008 will be their second International Year of the Reef (IYOR).
Other self-proclaimed years include Virgin Galactic’s recently mooted Year of the Spaceship. It comes as a number of private attempts to commercialise space flight are getting closer to reality.
International Polar Year, which also began in 2007, will run until March 2009. Furthermore, dolphins, who had their share of attention in 2007, have had their UN-backed year extended into 2008. Meanwhile, the EU has proclaimed 2008, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.