Top 10 Positive Things That Happened In 2020

  1. While the forced lockdowns aimed at curbing covid infections have had many negative effects, they have also played into a decrease in travel (by car, trains, planes, etc.), and thus a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, major cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, Jakarta, New Delhi and many more saw a significant increase in air quality this year.
  2. At the end of August, the entire continent of Africa was declared free of wild polio as over 95% of its population is now immune to the virus. Vaccine-derived polio still exists, but only 177 cases have been identified in Africa this year.
  3. As we all know, social distancing has forced most people to stay inside, and most white-collar workers have been working online from the safety of their own home. Over the past few years, many employers have gradually started implementing ‘work-from-home’ schedules where possible. At the same time, many other employees refuse to recognize the benefits of working from home as they wanted to stick to traditional work in cubicles and offices. Work-from-home has been proven to be positive for both employer and employee: there is no geographical limit to the hiring pool; workers are more productive; more time with the family allows for a healthier work-life balance; and eliminating commutes is better for the environment. Corona might have been the one push needed to set companies over the edge in committing to work-from-home. 
  1. Earlier in April, astronomers in British Columbia, Canada, detected a fast radio burst from space. Usually these bursts are only a millisecond long and originate from galaxies far away. This one, however, is the first known radio burst to originate from inside the Milky Way, and from a known source. Astronomers have come up with various theories to explain where fast radio bursts come from, but this discovery might point towards one theory in particular: Magnetars, a special type of neutron star. But scientists will have to detect many more of these bursts to confirm this theory.
  2. On the 26th of May, Costa Rica became the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage.
  3. The tropical disease Malaria kills some 400,000 people every year, most of which are young children in Africa. The infection is transmitted through mosquito bites, and while medication against the disease exists, not everyone has access and in some areas mosquitos have even grown resistant against it. However, a parasite has been discovered this year that seems to block the transmission of malaria and might help prevent infection in the future.
  4. At the end of July, NASA successfully launched the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover. It is estimated to land in February 2021 and will stay there for almost two years to collect Martian soil and rock in search of ancient microbial life, before sending it back to Earth for researchers to analyze.
  5. The thrilling Korean drama Parasite by director Bong Joon Ho became the first foreign language film to receive an Oscar for ‘best picture’ earlier this year. The Oscars have always been an elite and somewhat snobby award show, rarely recognizing the talent of non-American artists. So in a way, it was not just a win for Bong Joon Ho, but for foreign filmmakers everywhere.
  6. The coronavirus has led to a ceasefire in Yemen. For several years now the Arab country has suffered through a civil war that has killed thousands of innocent people and created a humanitarian crisis. Saudi Arabia, whose airstrikes caused an estimated 60% of all civilian deaths, seems to have grown tired of the war. The ceasefire would allow the UN to help create a legitimate government in Yemen and pave the road towards peace.
  7. Australia is well known for its many weird and dangerous animals. The Tasmanian devil, despite its name, is not one of them. Sadly, after having been driven off the mainland by humans several millennia ago, the only remaining wild Tasmanian devils exist on the island of Tasmania. Even worse, a contagious mouth cancer that has plagued the devils since the 1990s killed off a significant amount of the population. Luckily, a campaign has been underway to reintroduce the little mammals back onto the Australian mainland, for the first time in 3,000 years. 15 devils were released earlier this year in March and they did so well that another 11 were released last month. If they succeed in growing into a large population, they will be helping to balance the Australian ecosystem that is plagued by invasive species.

Sophie Elzinga

I am a second-year history student with a passion for writing an journalism. I've fallen in love with Groningen, as all the beautiful buildings awaken both the historians and artist inside me. But I have to admit that the city can feel very small after traveling through Australia for a year. I just recently joined the SK, because ever since I was little I wanted to become a writer, but if that doesn’t work out I will simply become Prime Minister.