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Commentary: Decades to remember

Dabbs Frank
Frank Dabbs is a veteran business and political journalist and author. File photo/MVP Staff

History moves relentlessly like the measured ebb and flow of the tide, and like the tide has patterns best seen at a distance.

At 8:46 a.m. EDT, Sept. 11, 2001, North Americans still had innocence reminiscent of Europe on July 28, 1914, the day the First World War was declared.

Then two Boeing 757s and two Boeing 767s were piloted into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a rural field in Pennsylvania, and the terrorist decade began.

Had Al-Qaeda not attacked the United States on that day, killing 2,996 people and injuring more than 6,000, the first decade of the 21st century might have been defined by advances in electronic communication or achievements in science.

By noon on 9/11, it had become the decade of Islamic terrorism.

In Alberta, the first decade of this century was defined by billions of dollars in oilsands investments.

A 180-tonne Caterpillar 777F hauler, a mining truck from the oilsands, parked in July 2006 on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall during the Smithsonian Institute’s annual summer Folklife Festival, was the symbol of Alberta’s decade of an aggressive presence in North America’s fossil fuel industry.

The second decade, in both North America and Alberta, has been the decade of climate change.

The oilsands have become a villain, and the Alberta economy is struggling to deal with the impact of the vilification of the oilsands production as perpetrator of a bleak future.

Journalists do not have the gift of prophecy, but we have a list of stories that we plan to cover in the next decade, allowing for unforeseen events.

The re-election of U.S. President Donald Trump in 2020 will ensure the compromise of the 250-year-old constitution and the displacement of America by China as the first nation on the world stage.

The demotion of the U.S. and the reshaping of the European Union and NATO will be leading stories of the decade.

Engulfed by overriding world events, Canada’s equivocal economic, interprovincial and social policies will remake its place in the world from that of a middle power to that of a national backwater.

Canada will be engulfed by world events that will diminish the significance of western alienation.

Hampered by external influences, nonetheless the restructuring of the Alberta economy will be assisted by a recovery in natural gas prices and stability for the oilsands.

The “climate crisis” will take second place as a political influence to a prolonged Canadian recession.

The redefinition of the province’s place in Canada will be a disappointment unless a strong national Conservative leader finds a way for the party out of the wilderness and into government.

Ten years from Jan. 1, 2020, news coverage will still be the first draft of history, but it’s hard to see the continuing production of paper and ink newspapers.

The dissemination of news requires the speed of electronic communications.

Economics reduced the five-edition daily newspaper to three, then one edition.

Then television created a 24-hour news cycle that thrives on the internet, the medium that never sleeps.

In 10 years, the news and comment of journalists will be transmitted from the writer’s brain to the reader in a virtual instant.

Frank Dabbs is a veteran business and political journalist and author.