Terrifying year abroad: a glance back at the world in 2015

THE twin threats of terrorism and climate change book-ended another tumultuous year in global affairs in 2015.

In between, Donald Trump, the blue-black dress and the gun-toting dentist shooting African animals tried to break the internet.

Transgender woman Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair magazine cover and historic gay marriage decisions in two countries gave conservative religious types a good nudge too when they took over the interwebs.



AS Islamic State fortified its position in the Middle East, inspiring a new generation of would-be terrorists around the world, diplomats grappled with how to end the group's influence in the West.

While terrorism continued unabated in Africa and the Middle East, France was at the centre of two of the most shocking attacks in the Western world: the deaths of 16 people in shootings at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and a series of related shootings in January.

The attack triggered global reaction, focussed as they were on a publication that made its name on sparking controversy and satirising Islamism.

As the United States and its most significant partner in Iraq and Syria, Australia, increased military pressure on IS, the group continued to influence others in France and Belgium, culminating in the series of attacks in November, which saw more than 120 killed across Paris.

CAUGHT between the warring powers and conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa, a two-year mass migration from the region to Europe came to a head in 2015 after a shocking image emerged of a young boy's body washed ashore in the Mediterranean.

Splashed worldwide across front pages of newspapers and internet, the jarring image brought an outpouring of grief and understanding that had seemed lacking till that point.

Millions of people searched for asylum in Western Europe, triggering some nations to lock down their borders as others opened their doors to the flood of people fleeing death, destruction and disease.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon labelled the mass migration the greatest such event since the Second World War, with people filling "temporary" refugee camps from Jordan to Germany.

DESTRUCTION: A photo of Maclean doctor Kalpana Thakur’s brother’s cafe after the April 25 Earthquake in Nepal. Photo: Contributed
DESTRUCTION: A photo of Maclean doctor Kalpana Thakur’s brother’s cafe after the April 25 Earthquake in Nepal. Photo: Contributed


MORE natural disasters rocked the developing world, including the deaths of more than 9000 Nepalese during a major earthquake in April which destroyed much of Nepal's infrastructure and left 23,000 others with injuries.



US President Barack Obama looked to cement his legacy in the penultimate year of his second term, fighting the controversial Keystone XL gas pipeline proposal, leading the Coalition's war against IS and setting a deal with China for greater action on climate change.

But American politics was already focussed on the next White House resident, as Donald Trump insulted Muslims, women and a host of minorities and Hillary Clinton's private emails went viral on social media.


IN Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron unexpectedly brought home a majority election result for the Conservatives, as the Scottish National Party saw its strongest election result in history and the Labour Party looked to self-proclaimed "socialist" Jeremy Corbyn as its best chance against the moderate Cameron.

The British Royal Family celebrated a newcomer, in the form of Prince George, son of Prince William and Kate Middleton, sparking headlines and photographic spreads in tabloid magazines around the Commonwealth.

LOOKING FOR MEANING: Letter writer Ted Mulder rejects the assertion gay couples want to marry because they love each other.
The Irish referendum was the first on the issue of same-sex marriage anywhere in the world

IRELAND surprised Australian leaders as a referendum in the once-strongly religious nation voted in support of gay marriage, increasing pressure on leaders including then prime minister Tony Abbott to address the issue.

The Irish vote was reinforced when a US Supreme Court ruling came down stopping states banning gay marriage, sparking celebration in the global gay community and thousands changing their social media profiles to feature the rainbow symbol of the gay rights movement.

DECADES of brewing division between white and black America spilled onto American streets as the 'Black Lives Matter' movement was born, after a series of shocking police shootings of young black men in recent years sparked riots and police resignations.

Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke in Boyhood.
Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke in Boyhood. Universal Pictures



OSCAR-WINNING American actress Patricia Arquette created a white-knuckle moment at the movie industry's night of nights, calling for wage equality for female actors while accepting an Oscar for her performance in Boyhood.
Back home, illegal downloading dropped about 4% once online streaming services such as Netflix arrived onshore. But they have rocked the Australian television sector, driving consumers away from the free-to-air channels.


FIVE years after the failed Copenhagen climate change talks, diplomats met again in December, this time in Paris, to negotiate a new global climate agreement.

Those talks followed calls from Pacific leaders increasingly worried about sea level rises threatening their homes.
They came as environmentalists pushed for greater targets to limit carbon emissions for the developed world.