Looking at the bright side of 2020


Natalie Dosmond '21

Despite the suffering and difficulties, there were also several good things that happened during 2020.

In a year filled with turmoil and tribulation, it can be difficult to recognize how any good prevailed.  There were, however, some positive aspects of 2020 that were lost in the adversity we all faced.  Below, we compiled five uplifting moments from last year that should not be overlooked.

The 2020 presidential election saw the highest percentage of voter participation in 120 years.  Despite difficulties with the voting process, two-thirds of the eligible voter population, or about 159 million people, cast their ballot.  This led to the election of Mr. Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the next president of the United States and Senator Kamala Harris as the Vice President.  Ms. Harris is the first woman, first Black American, and first person of Southeast Asian and West-Indian descent to fill the position.  In continuation with the historic wins of this election, the people elected 50 women of color to serve in Congress, breaking the previous record of 48 set in the midterm elections of 2018, according to huffpost.com

Mr. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ms. Kamala Harris take the 2020 presidential election.  Courtesy of Ms. Stefani Reynolds

In terms of space exploration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully launched its most advanced rover yet to Mars and safely brought home astronauts from low-Earth orbit.  A SpaceX rocket also sent American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time since 2011, according to nasa.gov.  Mr. Victor Glove, one of the astronauts who was a part of the trip, officially became the first Black astronaut to live at the ISS, accompanying Mr. Michael Hopkins, Ms. Shannon Walker, and Mr. Soichi Noguchi on the mission, according to unilad.co.uk.

Events in 2020 brought some positive shifts in the climate crisis.  Global lockdowns caused carbon dioxide emissions to decrease by an estimated 2.4 billion tons in 2020, the largest drop ever recorded, according to eurekalert.org.  Although this reduction was due in part to the global recession, it was also because of the declining cost of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind.  The United States is also set to rejoin the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, allowing the global community to tackle climate change together, according to nrdc.org.  Additionally, China pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, heightening the momentum for individuals worldwide to take climate change seriously, according to The Washington Post.

In August, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the continent of Africa is officially free from the wild poliovirus.  This leaves only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the virus remains a threat.  Widespread vaccination campaigns and distribution of the vaccine, especially in Nigeria, have proven effective in eradicating the potentially deadly virus, according to bbc.com.  Furthermore, the Democratic Republic of the Congo discharged its last Ebola treatment.  In early March, the patient was released from a treatment center in Beni town, one of the hotspots of the recent outbreak.  Although this is not yet the end of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this marks a huge step in the country’s fight against the second-deadliest outbreak of the disease in history, according to CNN.

Protests in support of Black Lives Matter spread across the world in June 2020.  Courtesy of Ms. Maddie Meyer

The Black Lives Matter movement became one of the largest civil rights movements in history after protestors took to streets across the United States following the police killing of Mr. George Floyd, according to npr.org.  Demonstrations spread across the world with a unifying message.  The movement originally began as a Facebook post in 2013 following the acquittal of Mr. George Zimmerman who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.  Since then, the movement has evolved into a loose national and international network, with chapters of Black Lives Matter spreading across the United States and the globe, according to bbc.com.

In 2020, the protests led to the arrest of the officers who killed Mr. Floyd and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery.  Additionally, cities across the country are cutting funding to police departments and have passed policies restricting the use of chokeholds by law enforcement, according to dosomething.org.  Although the fight against racial injustice is hardly over, the movement led to the recognition of racism as a public health issue by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and American College of Physicians, according to CNN.

Featured Image by Natalie Dosmond ’21