Many Americans are expressing gratitude that 2016 is coming to an end. This year was marked by the most divisive presidential election this country has ever seen as well as an undercurrent of grief with the death of cultural icons like David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael and Carrie Fisher and the horrifying civil war in Syria. Here at home, our communities endured a murder, suicide and sexual assault cases and the loss of five orca whales.
But there have been bright spots. After months of Dakota Access Pipeline protests – which included violence against peaceful objectors – the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would deny the permit required to build the oil pipeline in that area. And there is more.
• In March, the U.S. government abandoned its plan for oil and gas drilling in Atlantic waters, reversing its decision from a year ago.
• In November, the Obama administration banned offshore exploration and drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic until 2022.
• In 2016, some of the world’s biggest diseases — like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease — started declining in wealthy countries.
• Liberia was officially cleared of Ebola, meaning there are now no known cases of the deadly tropical virus left in West Africa.
• World hunger reached its lowest point in 25 years.
• In June, a new survey showed that the ozone hole has shrunk by more than 3.9 million square kilometers since 2006. Scientists now think it will be fully healed by 2050.
• By August, every major grocery and fast-food chain in the U.S. had pledged to use only cage-free eggs by 2025.
• Sea World agreed to stop breeding captive killer whales.
• The Gates Foundation announced another $5 billion in charity for Africa.
• Germany took in 300,000 refugees in 2016, despite growing concerns about integration and a backlash from populists.
• In Canada, hockey moms, poker buddies and neighbors took in Syrian refugees, one family at a time.
For a full list of “The 99 best things that happened in 2016” go to https://goo.gl/ZLBGe9.
We asked our readers about their New Year’s resolutions, and here is what they said: Be present to every moment. Or as many as I can; I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. As I grow older, resolutions are about living healthier and longer. I resolve to be healthier than I would have imagined in my youth; Learn to keep my mouth shut more often in hopes of coming off as more intelligent and less interesting; Get strong!; Sail more; Stop worrying about work when I take time off; To work towards the life I want and to continue to shed anything that doesn’t serve that goal. Some Americans are frightened and apprehensive of what 2017 will bring. Yet we must carry on, working and loving each other and standing up for our convictions. We wish health and peace to you all.