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Towards the end of 2019 there were a number of articles highlighting big ticket events – often negative ones – which took place during 2019. So for a change, I wanted to write about some positive events of last year.
The World is a Greener Place
Climate change invariably has many factors which contribute to its rate of change. The facts surrounding its evidence are clear – warming seas, melting ice caps, glacial retreat, rising sea levels and anomalous weather patterns.
However, as our collective level of education increases, we are also taking positive steps to reduce its effect. Take Italy for example – in 2019 it became the first country in the world to make climate change education compulsory for all children! NASA also has some good news as, according to a study published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the earth is a greener place today than it was 20 years ago.
Like with many countries, there is the perception of exploiting the environment over economic gain. There is naturally a possibility of this being short lived, but China and India have collectively made the largest contribution to the earth being a greener place; with a combined population of 2.7 billion people, these countries account for 35% of this increase even though they only account for 9% of the area covered in vegetation.
Malaria is a potentially fatal disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito. Although it is preventable and curable, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there were around 220 million cases in 2017 with nearly 440,000 deaths.
However, during 2019 Algeria became the second country in the African continent, after Mauritius in 1973, to become Malaria free. Furthermore, Argentina became the second country in South America, after Paraguay in 2018, to become Malaria free.
For both countries this has been a hard-fought battle over centuries and, as explained by the WHO Director-General, “their success serves as a model for other countries working to end this disease once and for all”.
The Return of the Humpback Whale
Humpback whales are social creatures travelling the seas and are often known for their mystic singing. A humpback whale can grow to around 16 metres, weigh around 40 tonnes and are found in every ocean around the world. However, sadly they were on the brink of extinction due to commercial whaling practices during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
According to the Royal Society, due to this long period of whaling the population fell from 27,000 in 1830 to only 450 in 1950. During the 1960s this led to the introduction of the Endangered Species Conservation Act, and coupled with other conservation efforts the current population is now estimated to be around 25,000 – c.93% of the pre-whaling population.
A fundamental factor behind the success of future generations is ensuring everyone has equal opportunities irrespective of their individual beliefs and characteristics. We have made great advancements towards this goal, and whilst there is still more we can and will do, 2019 has seen some fantastic achievements!
As reported by the BBC in June, Ecuador joined other Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and Uruguay) in legalising same-sex marriage. Furthermore, in May, as reported by the CNN, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to pass gay marriage legislation.
At the same time, towards the end of the year CNN reported that the Indian Navy welcomed their first female pilot – Sub Lieutenant Shivangi from the Muzaffarpur district in the north eastern Indian state of Bihar broke down longstanding rules by becoming the first female pilot. Again towards the end of the year, NASA confirmed that Jessica Meir and Christina Koch conducted the first all-female spacewalk.
As Christina Koch explained:
“…I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing. In the past women haven’t always been at the table. It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role. That can lead in turn to increased chance for success. There are a lot of people who derive motivation from inspiring stories of people who look like them, and I think it’s an important story to tell…”
Hopefully we can all derive motivation from these positive stories.
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