It was the year of terrorist attacks in Paris and on a Tunisian beach – and other, bigger, ones elsewhere that attracted far less international outrage.
It was the year ISIS mutated by stages into Daesh, while further establishing itself as the world’s most feared and hated organisation.
It was the year Europe woke up to the biggest mass migration since World War II – and started closing its eyes and its borders to the desperate victims of war and famine.
It was the year Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations became chairman of a UN panel on human rights. The year his country beheaded more people than ISIS. And condemned a poet to death for writing about losing his religious faith.
The year that same very rich UK ally unleashed British-built planes and missiles on its pitifully poor neighbour Yemen.
Here in little Britain, it was the year 24 per cent of the electorate put the Tories back in power. The year Scotland became a one-party state within a state. The year the Labour Party either destroyed itself from within or rose, phoenix-like from the ashes. History will tell us later which it was.
In America it was another year when more people were shot dead by toddlers than were killed by terrorists. When 19 people were killed and 41 seriously injured in 20 school shootings. And when more guns were bought by more American citizens than ever before.
Yet, amid all the apocalyptic gloom, there is a chance – just a chance – that 2015 will be remembered as the year things started to get better. The year the world looked over the edge into the abyss … and stepped back.
The rhetoric was good coming out of this month’s climate summit in Paris. Almost every nation in the world signed up to what US secretary of state John Kerry called “a victory for all of the planet and future generations”. Phew.
The aim is to stabilise global warming well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, “and less if possible”. Right. Define “possible”.
There was ecstatic talk of the end of the era of fossil fuels. Pity, then, that just days later the British government was cutting subsidies for renewable energy. And reneging on its promise to protect our national parks from fracking.
Not that the national parks are really so special. Beauty is beauty, and it seems a shame to risk spoiling it – but fracking is bad news wherever it takes place.
The geo-physics of its link with earthquakes is not yet fully understood. But we know the frackers’ record of toxic pollution. We know some of the damage that can do to people’s health.
And we know the methane belched out contributes around 25 times more to global warming – molecule by molecule – than carbon dioxide. And that’s before the extracted gas is burned.
The only safe thing to do with fossil fuel – and the only way to meet the Paris agreement – is to leave it in the ground. Yet in the very week Britain’s last deep coal-mine closed we go charging headlong into fracking. Madness.
Oh, and there’s another way 2015 will be remembered by history. As the warmest year ever recorded on the planet. Until 2016, anyway.
A year from now we will know who the next President of the United States will be, though it will still be three weeks before he or she takes office. Polling isn’t until November, yet the candidates are already jostling for position.
I’m sure I’ve said and thought this before, but it really does seem as if the world’s future rests on the outcome of one of the world’s weirdest and most protracted electoral procedures.
Right now there are 17 contenders to succeed Barack Obama in the White House – three Democrats and 14 Republicans. Many of the latter are mad, bad and dangerous to know. None more so than the current front-runner and mopper-up of most media attention, Donald Trump. If he gets in, it’ll be time to emigrate to Mars.
On the other side stand the one we all know, Hillary Clinton; the one we don’t, Martin O’Malley; and the one we’re going to hear a lot more of, Bernie Sanders.
Senator Sanders will be 75 by the time of the election, which makes him an unlikely fresh face. Even more unlikely for America, he is a lifelong avowed socialist, with a keen interest in the environment. Most remarkable of all is his connection with ordinary people.
It’s said US elections are won by whoever has most money – which normally means a few big backers. Obama did it in 2008 by getting small donations from a massive number of supporters. Sanders already has twice as many.
Opinion polls suggest that if the Democrats pick Clinton as their candidate they could be missing the chance of a landslide Sanders victory.
A victory which would be good news for ordinary Americans and for the world. And, incidentally, a good omen for his British equivalent, Jeremy Corbyn.