Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Good News Stories of 2016

      In a recent post, I mentioned some good news stories that come out of an otherwise terrible 2016. Our world is facing so many problems that we need to tackle. We must give help to those who need it, and fight for those who don't have equal human rights, and give voices to those who cannot speak. We must continue to work against climate change and protect our environment and wildlife. We must protect and defend and not let ourselves be silenced. However, it's nice to pause and celebrate the good that we have achieved so far. 2016 was a shit-show in so many ways, but it wasn't a complete disaster.

Good News metal lettering on background of blurred lights
(source)

Planet Earth II turtles
It's important that we protect nature but without intervening in it, but in one of the cutest stories from 2016, when the "Planet Earth II" crew filmed hundreds of baby turtles becoming confused by lights and heading towards the city, they had to step forward. Viewers panicked about the turtles' fates, but the crew reported that they successfully collected every turtles and returned them to the ocean. Phew! Source

US reduction on oil drilling
The US made not one, but two steps towards cutting down on oil drilling. First, in March they reverted a previous decision and will not be drilling in the Atlantic Ocean (source). Then, in December, Obama banned offshore drilling in US-owned Arctic and Atlantic waters, by blocking the sales of the rights. This is an important effort in preventing Trump from carrying out his plans to increase the fossil fuel industry again when he takes power. Source

Colombia peace deal
After more than 50 years of internal warfare between Colombia and the FARC rebels, the President was able to broker a peace deal with them, which was signed this year. A previous deal had been rejected in a referendum, but amendments were made to create a better deal. The President, Juan Manuel Santos, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. Source

Save the Ocean
While most of us have been lamenting the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef this year, which is a massive blow to the marine ecosystems of the world, there are other waters that remain intact. Over 90 countries attended a conference about ocean conservation this year, and pledged a combined total of $5.3 billion to protect them, and 40 new marine sanctuaries are being created. More conferences are taking place in other countries over the coming years. Source

Health in Africa
Africa has long been the site of many life-threatening diseases, but several are now declining and on the way out. Malaria deaths worldwide have dropped by 60% since the year 2000, and by 66% within Africa, and several countries reported no cases at all this year (source). Furthermore, West Africa is now entirely free of Ebola, after the 2013 outbreak, with Liberia being the last country to announce it has no cases of the tropical virus remaining (source).

Women and Children's Rights
Also in Africa, various countries are taking steps forward to eliminate restrictive and abusive circumstances that women and children have faced. Tanzania and Gambia both banned child marriage this year. Both countries previously had child marriage rates of over 30%, some of the highest in the world, and this step reduces the risk of domestic and sexual abuse young girls faced (source). The Pan African Parliament is working to eliminate this throughout the continent, and also signed an action plan this year to ban female genital mutilation, which is still practiced in 26 countries in Africa. It's not law yet, but it's a step in the right direction (source).

Carbon emissions
Countries around the world have been working to reduce their carbon emissions and use more renewable energy this year. This comes as part of The Paris Agreement, which was agreed upon at the end of 2015 and went into effect this year. Over 170 countries signed the deal to reduce their carbon emissions (source). Also this year, India unveiled the world's largest solar power plant, which can power around 150,000 homes, and they plan to continue to use more solar energy in the future (source). China also installed 20GW more of solar power, making it the largest provider in the world, and put a ban on the construction of coal power stations, which even includes delaying projects already approved (source). And in the UK, for 6 months over the summer, solar power accounted for more of our energy production than coal did, for the first time, and is aiming to phase out coal power stations by 2025 (source).

Endangered Species
Humans are the dominant species on the planet, and often do more harm than good for our fellow creatures. There are still many that need saved, but this year several species were able to be removed from the endangered species list (though they still remain 'threatened', the next category down), as their numbers grew; Florida manatee numbers now stand at 6,000; the Columbian white-tailed deer population has doubled in the last 50 years; green sea turtles in Florida and Mexico have been downgraded to threatened; nine of the fourteen humpback whale populations around the world are no longer endangered; and perhaps most notably, giant pandas are off the list too, with their numbers reaching over 2,000 in the wild.

Football Goals & Christmas Cards for a Terminally Ill Child
Bradley Lowery was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2013, and is terminally ill - and just five years old. But in a truly heartwarming story, Bradley was able to lead his favourite football team, Sunderland, out for a match in December, and got to take penalties during half-time. He was later awarded the BBC's Goal of the Month (source). And, even more, someone then started a Christmas card campaign for him, which resulted in him receiving a whopping 250,000 Christmas cards (source)!

Afghan "Plastic Bag" Boy Meets His Idol
A photograph of a 6 year old Afghan boy, named Murtaza Ahmadi, went viral at the start of the year, as he had used striped rubbish bag to emulate his football idol, Lionel Messi. Later this year, Murtaza was identified and found in Afghanistan (his family have since had to flee to Pakistan), and he was taken to Qatar to meet Messi and bring out the match ball on to the pitch. The videos and photos are simply adorable, as he refuses to leave his hero's side - I don't like football much myself, but stories like this are just wonderful (source).

     So it wasn't all doom and gloom then! This is only a small selection from even more good things that happened this year, from larger accomplishments to smaller, everyday acts of kindness. This doesn't mean we should become complacent though, as our world still has a long, long way to go to fix every problem we have. But it's good to celebrate the victories we have had this year, and these can give us all a little more hope that things will get better, with a bit of charity, hard work and belief from us all.

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