Positive developments in 2016 that were largely overlooked

This post won’t be about placemaking or urban planning, but I think it’s a great fit for my blog because there’s literally no other “place for everyone” than our planet. Earth is the one place that all of us call home, and this post focuses on saving our home!

Breathing for Peace has lots of fun, creative images like this on their Facebook feed. They bring much-needed smiles for viewers everywhere. And talk about creative PLACEMAKING! 🙂

In these incredibly tense, severely divided times, there actually is some really GOOD news happening throughout the world that almost never gets covered by content providers in the U.S.; they know that “click bait” and “if it bleeds, it leads” provide much more revenue.

So, below are just a few of what were many super encouraging developments that happened in the past year alone. The list was supplied by the folks at Breathing for Peace. I checked every fact and then added some further explanation/clarification where needed.

I also added what is possibly the most important scientific breakthrough yet–and it was made by a teenager who attends school six miles from my home in downtown Portland.

Note: Following this first list are two *more* lists that are really fun and are sure to add many smiles to your day! OK–on to the first list! 🙂

  • The Giant Panda is no longer an endangered species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced the downgrade of the panda’s status from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in September 2016 in its Red List of Threatened Species.
  • An invention by a Dutch teen named Boyan Slat has begun cleaning up plastic from the ocean. The Ocean Cleanup Array could remove half of the Pacific garbage patch in just 10 years.
  • Another teen (gotta love these brilliant teens!)–the aforementioned one from Portland–intends to do nothing short of changing the world. “My name is Chaitanya Karamchedu, but you can call me Chai,” as told in a KPTV story. He just might finally crack the code to making desalination economically feasible. Intel (which is just down the road from his school), MIT and other high-level outfits are now supporting his research.With 1 in 8 not having access to clean water, Chai decided to address the crisis himself. By experimenting with a highly absorbent polymer, he discovered a cost-effective way to remove salt from ocean water.  “It’s not bonding with water molecules; it’s bonding to the salt,” he said, seeing what others ignored. While scientists were concentrating on the 10% of water that’s bonded to salt in the sea, his focus was instead on the 90% that was salt-free. If his breakthrough is implemented on a massive scale, billions of lives will be impacted in the long term. 

    But Chai is not done. He’s now working on an idea to kill cancer cells from the inside out. “Some problems seem like impossible problems, but to call them impossible problems is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you think about it as impossible, the more impossible it becomes sometimes,” said Karamchedu.

OK, back to Breathing for Peace’s great list!

  • A drone called Juno flew over 800 million miles to orbit Jupiter and learn about the origin of our solar system.
  • Measles has been eradicated from every country in the Americas: North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. A 22-year vaccination campaign finally eliminated this historic virus. This means that no more measles cases are originating in the Americas. Measles cases that do occur here would come from sources in the Eastern Hemisphere; they’re called “imported cases.”
  • 20 countries created 40 protected marine reserves that cover an area the size of the U.S.

So…Let’s focus on things that are SOLVING problems rather than CREATING more problems. We really CAN make change on a literally global scale!

For good measure, here are some fun facts from 2016, brought to you by the folks at Interesting S-Word:

  • The list ends with a nice quote from Andre Gide: “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

And if that wasn’t enough: here are even more fun (as in funnier) facts, this time brought to you by the folks at Curiosity. Hopefully they will bring many smiles to your day:

  • A snail takes 115 days to travel a mile.
  • Spiders have transparent blood.
  • Cats cannot taste sweet things.
  • A pigeon’s feathers weigh more than its bones.
  • Dolphins have bigger brains than do humans.
  • The “sound of the ocean” you hear in a seashell is actually the echo of your blood pulsing in your ear.
  • 80% of people who read the word “yawn” or see someone yawning feel the urge to yawn. Did it work on you? Are you yawning now? 🙂
  • A specialized reflex action enables a rattlesnake to bite you up to an hour after it has died.
  • A bee uses 22 separate muscles to sting you. And stinging is literally the very last thing a bee wants to do.
  • The average lifespan of a U.S. dollar bill is just 18 months.
  • Glass gets stronger the longer it is under water. It is the only known substance to do so.
  • Elephants can be pregnant for almost 2 years.
  • Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other—at the same time.

I hope you enjoyed the lists and that you feel more inspired to spread joy and humor and, of course, to create better places for everyone!! 🙂

8 thoughts on “Positive developments in 2016 that were largely overlooked”

  1. Tim, this is a good list. Two suggestions:

    Provide a URL source for every bullet point, in case folks want to read more about it.

    Copy edit this post. I noticed some typos and misspellings. Oops! 🙂

    Thanks for the good thoughts!!


    1. Thanks, Garlynn! I’m glad you enjoyed the list! In my rush, I used “speak to text” and then accidentally hit “Publish” instead of “Preview” before going on a long hike and then coming back to find at least 50 errors–yikes! They are all fixed; even *one* typo on anything I post is one too many.

      I also added links for each of those incredible breakthroughs in 2016–great suggestion!

      Thanks so much for reading, and thanks for the *amazing* work you do on land use, transportation, affordable housing, zoning, missing middle housing and so many other issues in Portland! Your work is quite the impressive ever-growing acronym soup: RIPSAC, CNA, ONI, LUTC, CUPA, BPS, P4E, WP, WPRP, LLC, etc. 🙂

  2. What a nice collection of good news. I was particularly pleased to see the info re: measles. With some parents refusing to get vaccinations, however, how long do you think we can be measle-free?

    1. You read my mind, Jane! I totally thought of the anti-vax folks when reading about the great news on eliminating measles. Hopefully there will be so few opportunities for measles to spread in the Western Hemisphere that even the anti-vax folks’ kids won’t ever contract measles.

  3. Great blog. Very inspiring! Love hearing all the facts and breakthroughs that have been accomplished in this past year. We really do and will continue to make change on a global scale!

    1. Thanks, Lorraine! It was wonderful to be reminded of all these incredible accomplishments from 2016 alone. I have no doubt that many similarly amazing breakthroughs will occur in 2017! I’ll be watching! And hopefully news outlets will cover these accomplishments MUCH more than they did in the insanely political year called 2016.

    1. Thanks, Sara!! I figured we needed a reminder of all the positive news that happened in 2016! Granted, it was not at ALL what I was going to post today, so I made an insane number of typos in my rush to get it posted. That will definitely *never* happen again. 🙂

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post; thanks so much for reading and commenting on it!!

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