BY MARIE YSABEL LANDINGIN
2016’s bitter aftertaste left pretty low expectations for 2017. It didn’t help that a lot of the good news in 2017 was drowned out by the bad. While every year comes with its highs and lows, we’ve decided to end the year with a positive bang and a generous dose of hope. So, in case you missed it, here’s a taste of some of the good stuff that happened this year:
#1: Advances in medicine and health
- We’re a step closer to a cure to the common cold.
- This year saw a decline in new cases of Zika virus.
- Madagascar’s plague outbreak, a potential global health disaster, has been averted.
- A Harvard University study suggests that eating up to six chocolate bars per week could reduce the risk of a potential heart condition.
- Canadian students developed a device that quickly detects skin cancer, without the need for a biopsy.
- Researchers have found a way to regenerate any cell type, opening thousands of new medical pathways.
- A slug has inspired a new superglue, dubbed the next generation of bandages, stitches and staples.
#2: Climate change and the environment
- Despite Trump’s anti-climate change policy, corporate giants in USA, including Walmart, General Motors, Ford, and Mars, continue to reinforce their sustainable, green targets irrespective of the government’s policies.
- Scientists discovered a worm that eats plastic bags.
- Researchers found a way to turn air pollution into power.
- In June, the world’s first carbon-capture plant opened in Switzerland.
- Researchers now predict that the hole in the ozone layer will close permanently by 2050.
- 52 local governments in New Zealand signed the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration.
#3: Positive conversations about conservation
- Conservationists saved the saiga antelope from extinction.
- Conservationists made five islands – a ground-breaking total of one thousand acres – predator-free, restoring endemic, endangered and native species.
- A coral-breeding program offers hope in saving the Great Barrier Reef.
#4: Science and tech made leaps and bounds
- NASA discovered TRAPPIST-11, a solar system with seven Earth-like planets.
- New Zealand’s Rocket Lab launched the country’s first rocket into space.
- The future of transportation, near-supersonic speed, tube-based transportation a.k.a. hyperloop, is one-step closer to reality.
#5: More progress in the world of politics
- UK had a 25-year high youth voting turnout this year.
- There was more youth engagement in our own election this year, too.
- This year “how to vote in NZ” was the second most Google searched “how to” query in New Zealand.
- Trump’s travel ban failed, repeatedly.
- More countries legalised same-sex marriage, including Germany and Taiwan.
- Ireland elected its youngest ever and first openly gay prime minister.
- UK elected its most ethnically diverse parliament ever, which also happened to have its highest number of female MPs in history.
#6: Pop culture was pretty rad
- Disney Channel introduced its first LGBTQ main character.
- Sesame Street welcomed Julia, a muppet with autism, creating awareness about autism and emphasising the importance of acceptance for all.
- To reignite an interest in the universe among young people, a new set of constellations based on popular icons has been created, including constellations based on JK Rowling, Usain Bolt, and Malala Yousafzai.
- Viola Davis made history, not only by being the 23rd person who has achieved the “triple crown” in the American acting industry – winning an Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award – and being the only African-American to have done so.
#7: Music, the universal language
- Records, walls, and cultural barriers have been broken in the global music industry, especially by Latin music, notably Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Despacito, which is now the most viewed Youtube video of all time.
- Similarly, barriers have been broken by K-Pop artists like BTS taking over global charts, winning a BBMA, collaborating with the Chainsmokers, and starting an anti-violence UNICEF campaign.
- Some pretty amazing acts graced our New Zealand stages this year, including (but not limited to) Adele, Khalid, Harry Styles, Drake, and Sia.
#8: Big achievements on the big screen
- Wonder Woman, by female director Patty Jenkins in a predominantly male industry, is now the highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time.
- Kiwis smashing the global film scene; with Taika Waititi directing Thor: Ragnarok which smashed the box office, and Weta Workshop behind some of the most breathtaking cinematography this year, including Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, and Ghost in the Shell.
- Socially-charged and thought-provoking films were recognised this year, such as Moonlight, a coming of age film about a gay black man, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
#9: Kiwi sporting successes
- Team New Zealand won the America’s Cup.
- The Black Ferns won the Team of the Year prize, a landmark moment as the first women’s team to claim the prize.
- The Black Sticks won silver at the Hockey World League, with Kiwis Stacey Michelsen named player of the tournament and Sally Rutherford as goalkeeper of the tournament.
#10: Social media has become the face of social change
- After Charlottesville, Barack Obama’s tweet became the most liked tweet in history.
- Trump used Twitter to do good; by stopping a ban from being lifted on importing elephant trophies, and bringing to light the issue of elephant hunting.
- Facebook is fighting fake news.
- Social media played a major role in getting young people to vote in UK.
- The Silence Breakers, the people who sparked the US-originated #MeToo movement, ignited global conversation and change in at least 85 countries by denouncing sexual harassment and have been recognised as TIME Person of the Year.
- Instagram’s new alert system fights against animal abuse behind wildlife selfies.
#11: The good that came from violence, terrorism, disaster and hate
- People stood up with hands held together in solidarity, compassion, strength and hope against times of despair. After the May 22nd Manchester bombing, One Love Manchester showed that the world cared and refused to fall weak to violence.
- After Las Vegas on October 1st, people lined up for hours to donate blood.
- New Yorkers came together to scrub off hateful graffiti on a subway car.
- Muslim volunteers helped rebuild a Christian church destroyed by ISIS in Mosul, Iraq.
- “How to help refugees,” “how to help Las Vegas,” how to help Grenfell Tower,” and “how to help Syria” become some of the highest trending Google searches in 2017.
And many more.
Buried beneath the heady amount of bad news, there’s plenty of good news stories we miss. Why are we mindlessly consumed by the heavily advertised misery in the world? There’s a lot of good news stories out there that go unreported every day. There’s beauty and hope in everything. It’s all a matter of perspective.
As we welcome a new year, let’s take 2018’s headlines with a grain of positivity.
Did we miss anything? Let us know!
MARIE YSABEL LANDINGIN is known by many names, from childhood nicknames to a certain tropical fruit. Has a massive list of things to do, but should probably get some sleep first. An open-minded urban planning student aspiring to somehow change the world for the better.
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