The year 2020 will go down in history as the year of the pandemic. As the year of survival, it tested us in ways we had never imagined before. As more and more people got infected with the novel coronavirus, fear and panic took a hold of the world. Traveling was banned, countries went into lockdown, and people were quarantined, sometimes even in their own homes. The situation is now improving, and though it hasn’t gone back to normal, we need to look forward to the new year with renewed hope and enthusiasm. So, here’s a list of 10 good things that happened in 2020 to remind you that every cloud has a silver lining.
1. England’s five-year beaver reintroduction trial was a huge success.
Beavers were once native to Britain but were hunted to extinction sometime in the 16th century. Now, after a 400-year-period, they have made a comeback thanks to a hugely successful five-year reintroduction program.
In 2015, the Devon Wildlife Trust released two family groups of beavers into the River Otter, and they have now successfully bred and dispersed throughout the catchment including 28 dams and 15 territories.
The local area has seen some significant ecological benefits because of this five-year trial. For example, it has reduced flood risk, created wetland habitat, and improved the environment at a local wildlife site.
Some local landowners expressed concerns over the beaver introduction claiming that the rodents could spread diseases. However, the government announced that the trial has been successful, improved water quality and biodiversity, and made the local landscape more resilient to change. So, beavers can stay. (1, 2)
2. Dublin became the first capital city to have a zero carbon-emission postal service.
An Post, the state-owned postal service company in Ireland, made Dublin the first European capital to have zero carbon-emission postal services. The company added new and advanced electric trucks to their existing electric vehicle fleet, enabling zero-emission delivery of every letter and parcel throughout the city. This change will prevent 450 tons of CO2 from being released into the air.
The company invested over €7.5 million to build an impressive fleet of 212 electric vehicles, and they plan to add 700 more within two years. They started by introducing the emission-free postal service with the plan to cover Waterford, Limerick, Kilkenny, Galway, and Cork by the end of 2020. The initiative will improve air quality and benefit the health of hundreds of thousands of people.
An Post has made a commitment to eliminate 50% of carbon emissions from all delivery and postal operations in Ireland by 2025, and they plan to acquire only electric vehicles over the next two years to achieve their goal. (1, 2)
3. NASA made history by collecting samples of asteroid soil for the first time ever.
On 20 October 2020, NASA made history by collecting samples from the surface of an asteroid for the first time ever. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft spent nearly two years orbiting the near-Earth asteroid called Bennu, and after a carefully performed, hours-long maneuver, it was finally able to extract pieces of the space rock with its robotic arm. The samples are expected to reach Earth by 2023 when they would be studied and analyzed.
This was a significant milestone for NASA since it is the first time that the agency has gathered samples from an asteroid in space. Scientists are hopeful that the analysis of the samples will reveal intriguing insights into how the Solar System was formed some 4.5 billion years ago. Studying the chemical properties of the asteroid could even unlock the secrets of the origins of life here on Earth.
The OSIRIS-REx mission is significant for being NASA’s first successful attempt at collecting samples from an asteroid in space, but they weren’t the first space agency to achieve this feat. That distinction goes to Japan’s Hayabusa mission which delivered samples from an asteroid named Itokawa in 2010. (1, 2)
4. Jack Beattie, a nine-year-old boy with a rare disease, was sent over 1,000 cards after his birthday party was canceled due to COVID-19.
Nine-year-old Jack Beattie was heartbroken when his mother told him that his birthday party has to be canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Jack, who suffers from a rare disease called Osteogenesis Imperfacta, or brittle bone disease, could not celebrate his birthday for the last two years because he needed to have surgery.
The inability to throw her son a birthday party for the third year in a row really disappointed Ruth Beattie. So, she asked people on Facebook to send him a birthday card. Her post went viral and she got an overwhelming response with cards arriving from all over the world. The boy received over 1,000 birthday cards from the UK, Ireland, Switzerland, and even France.
5. A 103-year-old Polish grandmother beats coronavirus and celebrates with Bud Light.
So far, the novel coronavirus has infected over 83 million people and claimed the lives of over 1.8 million people worldwide. That situation is the direst for the elderly, who are the most vulnerable to this disease. That is why news of centenarians beating the virus is such a cause for celebration.
In May, a 103-year-old Massachusetts woman named Jennie Stejna survived a bout with the coronavirus. The Polish grandmother was the first one to test positive in her nursing home. When she had a low-grade fever, they moved her to a separate ward. As her condition worsened, the staff called family members to say their final goodbyes. However, Stejna wasn’t done and she beat COVID-19 on May 13.
To help her celebrate, the staff gave her an ice-cold Bud Light, which she loved but had not had in a long time. She was also the first woman to recover in her nursing where other residents were also infected by the virus. (1, 2)