This year was rough in many ways, heart wrenching with a whole lot of terror, turbulence and tragedy. But it also provided us with some exuberant, heart-warming and magical images, moments where our faith in humanity got restored. There’s so much improvement we can celebrate. Not only in the field of science, politics, economics, health and lifestyle, but also in mentalities; and that is the biggest war we’re ought to fight. The world is changing, slowly, but surely. Here’s my list of the 14 things we should ALL come together to celebrate, embrace and feel proud of. We deserve it.
1) The number of deaths of under 5-year-olds is falling. Not only did the child mortality rate fall this year for the 42nd year in the row, but it’s fallen faster than anyone expected. The dramatic decline in preventable child deaths over the past quarter of a century is one of the most significant achievements in human history, UNICEF claims. The global under-five mortality rate has declined by nearly half (49 per cent) since 1990, dropping from 90 to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014. Thanks to the accelerated progress in reducing child mortality, the world saved almost 100 million children– among them, 24 million newborns – who would have died had mortality remained at 1990 rates.
2) Big milestone in fighting AIDS. The world has finally reached “the beginning of the end” of the AIDS pandemic that has infected and killed millions in the past 30 years, according to a leading campaign group fighting HIV. The number of people newly infected with HIV over the last year was lower than the number of HIV-positive people who joined those getting access to the medicines they need to take for life to keep AIDS at bay. United Nations data show that in 2013, 35 million people were living with HIV, 2.1 million people were newly infected with the virus and some 1.5 million people died of AIDS. By far the greatest part of the HIV/AIDS burden is in sub-Saharan Africa.
3) Scientists confirm global victory in Ozone layer recovery. “It’s a victory for diplomacy and for science, and for the fact that all the nations in the world worked together” said the Nobel Prize chemist who first forecasted the ozone depletion in 1974. From 2000 to 2013, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in the key mid-northern latitudes, according to NASA scientist Paul A. Newman, who co-chaired the every-four-years ozone assessment by 300 scientists, released by the United Nations. UN leaders called the effort to get rid of ozone-destroying substances “one of the great success stories of international collective action,” and are hoping that the world can similarly unite in the fight to lessen climate change. 197 nations signed the ozone treaty agreements, making the Montreal Protocols the first to be unanimously adopted by all members of the United Nations.
4) Charitable nominations go viral on Social Media. The ALS ice bucket challenge caused a social media fundraising explosion this summer inspiring donations of $115 million for efforts to cure and treat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). But because the trend wasted precious water, we liked the #RAKnomination craze that surfaced in February better. Out of a dangerous binge-drinking nomination game on Twitter that claimed the lives of several youth came an adaptation where a person would post a video, not of them drinking, but of doing a random act of kindness (RAK) and then nominate two friends to do the same. The Rak nominations that inspired youth in Europe and Canada began in South Africa when Brent Lindeque decided to break the drinking game cycle, in favor of something that might show how powerful social media can be if used for good. He gave a huge sandwich, chocolate and a coke to a panhandler on the street. He filmed it, nominated two people and challenged them to do the same within 24 hours. Up for the challenge?
5) Diabetes breakthrough : scientists coax human stem cells into making insulin. Since his infant son Sam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 23 years ago, Harvard scientist Doug Melton has dedicated his career to finding a cure for the disease. On October 9 he announced that he and his colleagues had taken a giant leap forward, for the first time producing massive quantities of human insulin-producing cells.
“In trials with mice, he said; We can cure their diabetes right away — in less than 10 days.”
6) A tuberculosis breakthrough. Tuberculosis is known as one of the world’s leading causes of death, but earlier this year, scientists announced a new treatment regimen that’s worked in early-phase research. This new treatment requires patients to take only 360 pills, instead of 14,000. If this treatment is proven in clinical trials, it could save poor countries billions of dollars in healthcare costs.
7) Ban Bossy campaign. In the new “Ban Bossy” campaign, Queen Bey joins other famous, powerful women like Jennifer Garner, Diane Von Furstenberg, Condoleezza Rice, and Jane Lynch to ban negative words like “bossy” that keep girls from becoming leaders and reaching ‘manly’ positions. “Be brave, be you. I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.”
8) Nigeria’s fight against polio helped its fight against Ebola. Nigeria is now Ebola-free. For some time now, with dedicated and enthusiastic support from President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria has been running one of the world’s most innovative polio eradication campaigns, using the very latest satellite-based cutting-edge GPS technologies to ensure that no child misses out on polio vaccination. When the first Ebola case was confirmed in July, health officials immediately repurposed polio technologies and infrastructures to conduct Ebola case-finding and contact-tracing.
“If a country like Nigeria, hampered by serious security problems, can do this – that is, make significant progress towards interrupting polio transmission, eradicate guinea-worm disease and contain Ebola, all at the same time – any country in the world experiencing an imported case can hold onward transmission to just a handful of cases.”
9) Malala Yousafzai, youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Ms.Yousafzai became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (grouped in the same pantheon as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa) at age 17. Malala began campaigning for girls’ education at the age of 11, three years before she was shot by the Taliban. Ms. Yousafzai is definitely an Anne Frank-like figure who defied terror, showed extraordinary courage and inspires hope for so many people around the world.
10) Emma Watson’s U.N speech. Earlier this summer, Emma Watson was named a U.N Women Goodwill Ambassador. The ripples of her involvement over the past few months can be seen online (crashing the U.N website, using Twitter to denounce a sexist politician in Turkey or respond to the gender politics of the recent celebrity nude photo hack).The actress gave an impassioned speech on feminism and gender at the U.N. headquarters in New York to launch the “HeForShe” campaign which aims to galvanize one billion men and boys as advocates for ending the inequalities that women and girls face globally.
“Why is the word such an uncomfortable one? I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men.”
11) Taylor Swift named most charitable celebrity by Celebsgonegood. The 25-year-old pop star landed the top spot on bs Gone Good list, which highlights public figures who’ve used their fame to support charitable causes. The advocacy group noted a donation to New York City schools by Swift, as well as her outspokenness on feminist causes, as reasons for topping the list. It’s the third year in a row Swift has taken the top spot, Us Weekly pointed out. Laverne Cox, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Emma Watson rounded out the top five. According to Look to the Stars, Swift has supported Feeding America, UNICEF and Habitat for Humanity, among other charitable organizations. She also donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to help victims of a 2008 flood in Iowa.
12) #NotInMyName British muslims stand up to ISIS extremists. After the extremist group ISIS was formed, islamophobia gained notorious influence, and British Muslims took a stand against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by launching a social media campaign to deliver an important message: Hate and violence do not represent Islam. The campaign is part of an online effort to curb the damaging representation of Islam by ISIS, and terrorists in general.
As a deep believer of the percepts of Islam, I feel relieved that people in the world feel as disgusted as i do whenever i hear about extremists who hide behind a fake Islam so they can carry on hate and violence. Zahra Qadir, a spokesperson for the charity, said: “After finding out that James Foley had been beheaded and David Haines was next, we decided enough was enough and that we must take action and take a stand to show the world they do not represent us Muslims.”They will not kill in the name of Islam.” Muslims, all over the world are tired of being labelled as terrorists because of the groups who commit terrorist acts.
“The world does not see that this is not permitted in Islam,” Qadir said. “We want to tell the world that these groups are no representatives of our faith. Islam has no room for these groups, they hide behind our faith to justify the atrocious acts they commit.”
13) Tunisian democratic parliamentary election. According to the final results released by the Independent high authority for Elections, Nidaa Tounes took the lead in the election, winning 86 seats in the 217 seat parliament. Ennahda Movement came second came second with 69 seats. The biggest losers were CPR of Moncef Marzouki and Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties. The result was hailed internationally for its democratic viability as the only one of the major Arab Spring uprisings, including Libya and Egypt, that is not convulsed by instability and turmoil. Barack Obama even congratulated the free, fair and non-violent elections as a “milestone”, while Secretary of State John Kerry said it was an example of “why Tunisia remains a beacon of hope, not only to the Tunisian people, but to the region and the world.”
14) Drones for good. Scientists and entrepreneurs are transforming the scary idea of drones into a service that can save lives. Aerial drone technology is being used in Europe to create flying ambulance toolkits that can speed a defibrillator to the scene of a cardiac arrest victim within a minute, when it would take an ambulance ten. An Iranian team have put their robotics expertise to work developing a lifeguard drone for use along the Caspian Sea coast, where more than a thousand people drown every year. Humanitarian drones are now delivering medical supplies and lab test specimens over roadless areas in Africa. And, a NASA engineer has created an unmanned vehicle to fly over great expanses of forest in Virginia searching for tiny wildfires before they blow up.
Here’s a video i think sums up 2014 science’s breakthrough of 2014 :
I wish you all a happy New Year, but remember, 2015 won’t change a thing unless you do!
With love, FZ