15 Awesome Things That Happened In 2016
We all know that 2016 was a super trying year and it seems like 2017 is slated to follow suit. Between the war on terror, the current political climate across the globe, mass shootings, the rash of celebrity deaths, race conflicts, the wage gap and other persisting issues, it can be very disheartening to look towards a brighter tomorrow. This can be especially true if you are an avid user of social media. It can proliferate your newsfeed with tons of negativity that you can’t seem to escape.
It’s human nature to linger on the bad things that we experience more so than the good, but why do we do this? Professor Nass, who co-authored “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships” (Penguin 2010) answered this very question in an interview with the New York Times. He said, “The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.” This can allow negative information to penetrate our beings more deeply and leave lasting emotions about them. Many people who intensely frequent social media and the news in general often experience depression, social isolation and anxiety.
We’re sure you remember many of the atrocities that occurred in the past year, but maybe it’s time to take a look at the good things that happened. While we all deal with whatever realities might plague us, don’t forget that there are many beautiful things happening too. Even amongst all of the chaos. Here are some of our favorite awesome things that happened in 2016 to help you look towards a brighter future!
Tiger numbers are on the rise (and manatees and pandas!)
According to the World Wildlife Federation, “after a century of constant decline, the number of wild tigers is on the rise! According to the most recent data, around 3,890 tigers now exist in the wild—up from an estimated 3,200 in 2010.” Panda numbers have also increased. Live Science also reports that there has been an increase from 1,596 in 2004 to the he current population count of 2,060! A survey on manatees began in 1991. “Officials counted 1,267 of them in Florida. However, now there are more than 6,300 in Florida alone, and researchers estimate nearly 13,000 manatees live in their natural range of the Caribbean and the northern coasts of Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil.” This goes to show with effort, education and protection, we can save many of our most critical animals.
Portugal runs on renewable energy for four straight days.
Yep! Portugal went ZERO emissions for 4 straight days! Denmark and Germany have historically led the way in their pursuit of renewable energy, but now Portugal has been heralded for their strides in making the transition. Wind, solar and hydro power energy sources are fast replacing coal and other environmentally damaging fossil fuels. James Watson, the CEO of SolarPower Europe said, “The age of inflexible and polluting technologies is drawing to an end and power will increasingly be provided from clean, renewable sources.”
Hybrid and electric vehicle sales are on the rise despite low gas prices.
There is an ebb and flow of gas prices. With the rise in gas comes the increase of consumers seeking out fuel efficient vehicles. Conversely, when fuel prices are steadily low, the SUV gas guzzlers start trickling back onto the road. This has been the buying trend in the US for years, that is, until now. Hybrid cars are becoming increasingly pocket and environmentally friendly. The long favorited Toyota Prius is now at an MSRP of $24,684 where some of their gas guzzling SUV counterparts are not only expensive to buy but also expensive to keep on the road. Electric and Hybrid SUV’s are also at an all time high demand and manufacturers are scrambling to fill the demand with new line ups. Roadtrack says,”It makes sense that the more we drive our cars, the more we seek out technology that allows us to use it more efficiently—low gas prices or not.”
India plants 50 million trees in one day.
India smashed Pakistan’s former world record of 850,000 trees by planting 50 million of their own. All in one day! Thanks to over 800,000 volunteers, the new world record now stands at 49.3 million trees! There’s nothing that can’t be accomplished when you put your heart into it. #treegoals
A win for Standing Rock.
After months of protests against a controversial Dakota Pipeline, former president Obama issued an order for the Army Corps of Engineers to deny DAPL the permits necessary to drill under the Missouri river. The pipeline was slated to drill right under the river and through the reservation which violates aboriginal and land treaties that were set in place to protect the native people who live there. The order would temporarily halt the construction of the pipeline to allow an environmental impact review and possible re-route evaluation. This was a major win for the indigenous people and wildlife who rely on the Missouri river for clean water. The Standing Rock Indian Reservation is located in North and South Dakota in the United States, and is occupied by various tribes.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, President Trump overturned Obama’s halt and signed orders advancing Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines with no plans to follow through on an environmental impact review or attempt an alternate routing option. The indigenous people and local wildlife are once again at risk and the fight continues. Read more here.
The ALS ice bucket challenge actually worked!
Whether you loved it or hated it, we have all encountered the ice bucket challenge on our Facebook feeds at some point. The 2014 phenomena took over social media with one mission in mind. Douse yourself with ice cold water for a cause. Thousands of people documented themselves taking the challenge and posted their misery to social media while making donations to the cause. So, how much money was raised? According to the Washington Post, “The viral campaign raised more than $115 million for the ALS Association alone, in order to fund research into new treatments. The ALS Association said it was able to fund research that identified a new gene, NEK1, that contributes to the disease.” These findings might never have happened if it weren’t for this marketing initiative gone viral.
Prison inmates save an officer’s life.
A rowdy jail cell is not an uncommon thing in county prisons. But in one Parker County District Courts building in Texas, inmates got rowdy when they noticed their court officer was suffering from a heart attack. This amazing video shows how inmates jailbroke out of their cell in an effort to come to his aid and help get the officer the help he needed. Their fast thinking helped to save the man’s life. This goes to show that you can never judge a book by it’s cover.
Patagonia donates 100% of Black Friday sales to the environment.
Patagonia is no stranger to environmental causes and has a reputation for being the bad boy of the Black Friday retail culture. During the 2016 holiday shopping season, Patagonia announced, “We will be donating 100 percent of our global retail and online Black Friday sales directly to grassroots nonprofits working on the front lines to protect our air, water and soil for future generations.” The company projected sales at about $2 million for the holiday shopping season, but surpassed that number 5 times over! This year, Patagonia donated $10 million to environmental causes. Seriously….Mic drop!
Harriet Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
History will be made when an image of Harriet Tubman, a former slave, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate will replace Andrew Jackson on the US $20 bill. Andrew Jackson was a former slave holder and, “known as much for his persecution of Native Americans as for his war heroics and advocacy for the common man.” His replacement will speak volumes on the movement towards a more multicultural, multiethnic and inclusive nation. Tubman will be the first woman honored on paper currency in the US in well over a century. She will be accompanied by Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony, who will appear on the backs of other notes.
Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins an Oscar!
Not life changing, we know. But seriously about time! 6 time Oscar nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio is finally honored for his incredible talent. He won Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in The Revenant, a period film about a man’s relationship with the natural world, it’s diversity and the brutality of men. What was even more unforgettable was DiCaprio’s acceptance speech on the harsh reality of climate change (2:00). His victory is further proof that when you give your all to something you love, great things are to follow.
Unemployment rate hits pre-recession low.
According to PBS.org, “The nation’s jobless rate sank to 4.6 percent, a level not seen since August 2007 and before the onset of the Great Recession when unemployment peaked at 10 percent in October 2010, according to monthly figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” The labor market created 178,000 new jobs in late 2016. US News reports, “Professional and business services positions led gains in November, tacking on 63,000 new positions, while education and health services employers brought on 44,000 new employees.” Good news indeed!
Solar energy generates more power than coal.
The UK has been searching for ways to harness solar energy for the long run and they may have just made a breakthrough! According to Independent.co.uk, “Research by the Carbon Brief website found that solar generated nearly 7,000 gigawatt hours of electricity between April and September, about 10 per cent more than the 6,300GwH produced by coal during the same period.” Britain has made strides to rid itself of coal dependence completely by 2025. Similar strides are being made by Mexico, Argentina, Scotland, India, France, Canada, China, Germany, Denmark and many more. C’mon America, catch up already!
The US reaches milestones for diversity in government .
The Washington Post reports, “The United States saw milestones for diversity in government. A sampling: Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina elected to the Senate; Ilhan Omar, a former refugee, will be the first Somali American lawmaker; and although she went on to lose the general election to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton was the first female U.S. presidential nominee of a major party.” We still have a long way to go but every success to make America more inclusive should be celebrated!
Our carbon footprint shrunk.
The US saw a significant drop in it’s carbon dioxide output. Emissions dropped to their lowest levels since 1991. The reasons? More knowledgeable and environmentally aware consumers, federal green energy and home efficiency tax credit initiatives are now available and increased market demand for green technology has led these products becoming more affordable. Americans are opting for more renewable and cleaner energy sources, toxic coal consumption is dropping off and the Paris climate agreement went into effect. This agreement marks the first time that governments have agreed to legally binding terms to curb global warming offenses. The Guardian reports, “Under the agreement, all governments that have ratified the accord, which includes the US, China, India and the EU, now carry an obligation to hold global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels. That is what scientists regard as the limit of safety, beyond which climate change is likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.”
The definition if Sports(wo)manship!
When Olympic runners Abbey D’Agostino (US) and Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) collided on the track, it was clear that D’Agostino had suffered a game ending injury. Instead of leaving her opponent in the dust for an olympic win, Hamblin did what any true hero would do. She encouraged D’Agostino to rise up and helped her opponent to the finish line. Not even dreams of Olympic glory can deter a true hero from doing what’s right.