Yes, 2016 has been a rough one. BUT, a lot of good things did happen too, and many of them didn’t make the Facebook rounds. Herein, a brief list of totally awesome happenings this year:
– The Giant Panda and the manatee were removed from the Endangered Species list. Same for Columbian white-tailed deer, green sea turtles in Florida and Mexico, and Humpback whales. Decades of conservation efforts have paid off (still more work to do though).
– New research provided conclusive evidence that the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is not only no longer growing. It’s actually, finally, starting to close.
– The Ice Bucket challenge paid off and a new ALS-related gene was discovered in part due to funding from the internet challenge
– A new report revealed that the number of tigers in the world has increased for the first time in more than a hundred years
– Worldwide carbon emissions were flat for the third straight year.
– We have an ebola vaccine that may actually be 100% effective. Of the nearly 6,000 people who received the vaccine during trials, all were free of the ebola virus 10 days later. Liberia was officially cleared of Ebola, meaning there are now no known cases of the deadly tropical virus left in West Africa
– Thailand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
– In 2016, for the first time ever, the amount of money it would take to end poverty dropped below the amount of money spent on foreign aid.
– Italy became the last large Western country to recognise same-sex unions
– Denmark became the first country to no longer define being transgender as a mental illness, and Canada announced a ban on transgender discrimination.
– Costa Rica ran solely on renewable energy for over 100 days. Now it’s aiming for an entire year with no fossil fuels.
– Self-driving vehicles took to the streets in a big way, with Uber allowing the first self-driving car in its fleet and Anheuser-Busch hauled a trailer loaded with beer 120 miles in an autonomous-drive truck, completing what’s believed to be the first commercial shipment by a self-driving vehicle.
– We’re almost done with coal. This year, the Chinese government placed a ban on new coal mines. The United Kingdom agreed to phase out coal by 2025, France said it would get there by 2023.
– Following the end of conflict in Colombia in 2016, all of the war in the world is now limited to an arc that contains less than a sixth of the world’s population
– For the first time ever, the death penalty has become illegal in more than half of the world’s countries.
– Harriet Tubman is going to be on the new $20 bill (eventually).
– Forests are making a comeback. In July, more than 800,000 volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in one day. Norway became the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation.
Progress never stops.