Not many people could argue that 2020 was a good year, and as we come into 2021 it is easy to remember so many of the negatives. From COVID-19 to wildfires in California and Australia, to hurricanes, even murder hornets, this year has had a lot of downsides. However, through it all, we cannot forget the positive aspects. Within catastrophes, people’s innate kindness emerges, and we have the ability to come together. On that note, here are 15 good things from 2020
1. Carbon emissions have fallen by the largest amount ever recorded.
Because of both the stay-at-home orders and the increase in renewable energy sources, there has been a massive reduction in air pollution. According to the Energy Information Administration, it is estimated that energy-related CO2 emissions may have fallen 11 percent since 2019.
2. Virtual cast reunions gained popularity.
From “Parks and Recreation” to “Scream”, many of our favorite movies and shows had cast reunions over Zoom, spreading joy through this difficult time.
3. Animal shelters have seen an increased number of adoptions.
Thanks to stay-at-home orders, animal shelters have received an outpouring of support. Throughout the pandemic, especially during the first few months, animal adoptions rose dramatically. According to CNBC, this year the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals saw a nearly 70 percent increase in animals going to foster care compared to the same period last year.
4. The most voter participation in 120 years occurred.
Despite the pandemic, more than 159 million people voted in the 2020 election, or 66.7 percent of the voting-age population. No matter who you voted for, it is notable that this type of turnout has not been seen since 1900, when 73.7 percent of the population voted.
5. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled to ban employment discrimination, protecting members of the LGBTQ+ community.
On Monday, June 15th, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. This 6 to 3 ruling was a big step and a huge win for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
6. Drive-in movie theaters made a huge comeback.
Drive-in movies allow for safe, social-distanced entertainment, and for this reason they have been popping up all over the country. Many communities, including our own, gathered together outdoors to watch movies safely.
7. An enzyme has been engineered by scientists to help recycle plastics.
An enzyme with the ability to break down used plastic bottles for recycling was created in the spring of 2020. According to Eco-Watch: “Scientists have engineered a mutant enzyme that converts 90 percent of plastic bottles back to pristine starting materials that can then be used to produce new high-quality bottles in just hours. The discovery could revolutionize the recycling industry.”
8. A new baby panda was born at the National Zoo.
Many people tuned in to the zoo’s Panda Cam over the months of August and September to view updates on the now named Xiao Qi Ji, which translates to “little miracle” in English.
9. Lego launched Braille Bricks.
Lego launched a line of toys called “Braille Bricks” to help teach blind and visually impaired children to learn Braille. Because the blocks also have the number or letter printed on them, it creates an opportunity for blind and visually impaired children to play with sighted children in a learning environment.
10. We saw the first woman of color elected as vice president.
Kamala Harris is not only the first female vice president, she is also the first African American and first Asian American Vice President. Regardless of who you may have voted for, it is undeniable that this is a historic moment, and paves the way for more female and BIPOC leadership.
11. Fossil fuel production has drastically decreased.
2020 saw a massive decrease in coal production, being, according to Mashable “the first year since the start of the industrial revolution that saw more coal plants close than new ones open. Solar and wind power is now significantly cheaper than coal across most of the planet.”
12. “The Mandolorian.”
13. The largest movement in U.S. history occurred.
The Black Lives Matter protests were a historic moment in U.S. history. According to recent data, up to 26 million people in the United States participated in the demonstrations. The movement has inspired countries all over the world to take action as well, and has set in motion a strong social change.
14. Crayola launched “Colors of the World” skin tone crayons.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, “Colors of the World” crayons have been designed to represent over 40 different skin tones. The Crayola CEO Rich Wuerthele said in a statement, “With the world growing more diverse than ever before, Crayola hopes our new ‘Colors of the World’ crayons will increase representation and foster a greater sense of belonging and acceptance.”
15. We came together.
2020 was an eventful year for everyone. We faced new challenges and difficult times, but through it all, we managed to persevere. Quarantine allowed us to reconnect with friends and family and reflect on ourselves. We picked up new hobbies and learned new things. Although this year has been tough, it has given us the chance to grow and taught us to focus on the positive in any situation.