The other 2020: 274 ways the world got better this year
This is more than good news. Points of advancement are the moments when humanity takes another step forward. This year we have shown 274 concrete ways the world can get better. This includes 29 moments the world shared together - scientific breakthroughs in space, encouraging reports of reforestation efforts, and international commitments to defend human rights - and more stories that only apply to specific regions, countries, or cities. In case you missed it, here is a recap of some of the headlines that gave us hope this year.
Racial justice has been the main theme of advances in the United States this year as communities worked to address the mistakes of the past and fight racism today. Black Americans were called to senior roles in academia and the Catholic Church, and black women in particular made gains in sports, politics, and the armed forces. Symbolic gestures recognized individual black Americans who were posthumously honored with a Pulitzer Prize, the naming of a new Navy supercarrier, and the renaming of NASA's Washington headquarters.
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Other marginalized groups also made progress. A record number of Native Americans, women and LGBTQ people ran for office in 2020. A survey by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that media representation of people with disabilities has improved since 2016. (Christian Science Monitor, Center for American Women and Politics, NPR)
African countries have made a variety of advances, from promoting peace and security to promoting sustainable agriculture. Angola's National Demining Institute cleared about 5 acres of landmines in the first half of 2020, removed 9,982 explosive devices - relics of decades of civil war - and paved the way for safer travel and development opportunities. In a breakthrough in international justice, genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga from Rwanda was captured after years on the run. The urban farming movement is gaining momentum in Johannesburg, South Africa, where more than 40% of its 4.4 million population are considered food unsafe. A new app is helping Zimbabwean farmers to secure land. (The Christian Science Monitor)
Latin America and the Caribbean
Of the 30 issues we published in Latin America and the Caribbean, nearly a third dealt with protecting plants, insects and animals. Centennial turtle Diego returned at the end of one of the world's most successful captive breeding programs and eventually returned to the Galapagos Island of Española, where he will retire among hundreds of offspring.
In the South Atlantic, new protection measures are just beginning around the remote Tristan da Cunha archipelago, where scientists are building the fourth largest marine reserve in the world. In Colombia, former combatants train to preserve the country's biodiversity. (The Christian Science Monitor)
From Russia to Portugal we have seen churches in Europe fight climate change with renewed vigor. Austria closed its last coal-fired power station on April 17th and joined a growing number of countries that are less dependent on coal. Germany bans single-use plastics in accordance with a European Union directive; and Lithuania is recycling at record levels thanks to a deposit refund system introduced in 2016. Green transit alternatives are emerging in the UK. The Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland became an unlikely leader in renewable energy as they used their excess wind power to experiment with hydrogen. The first all-electric intercity bus route in Great Britain carried passengers between Edinburgh and Dundee from autumn. (The Christian Science Monitor)
The story goes on
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