2020 was a real peach of a year for everyone. As we approach the end of the year, after what feels like ages, here’s a list of good things that happened this year, as a reminder that not everything about this year was terrible. Every item in this list has an individual linked source, so you can read about anything that sticks out to you.
Ten months after the Notre Dame cathedral’s roof was destroyed in a fire, it was announced that the bee colonies that live in the cathedral were unharmed. For the first time since 1906, a rare species of giant tortoise, the Chelonoidis phantasticus, was spotted in the Galápagos Islands. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave Scripps Research $50 million to fight tuberculosis and malaria.
Matt James became the first Black man to take the lead role in “The Bachelor.” Korean movie “Parasite” became the first international feature film to win best picture at the Academy Awards, also winning best international feature film, best original screenplay and best director. Two cheetah cubs were born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, a major accomplishment for a “vulnerable” population. Beavers were reintroduced to Britain after being absent for more than a century.
Luxembourg made all public transport free. Animal shelters across the country received a spike in adoptions. Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for criminal sexual acts. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released for the Nintendo Switch. The European Union planned a “right to repair” plan, which will force manufacturers of phones, tablets and laptops to make their products easier to repair and reuse.
Tech startup Carbios identified a bacterial enzyme that digests PET plastic, allowing the plastic to be infinitely reusable. Eminem celebrated 12 years of sobriety. The Getty Museum held #ChallengeGetty, which asked people staying at home to recreate famous artworks using materials in their houses as props.
A brown bear was captured on film in a national park in Spain, the first bear to visit the national park in 150 years. Crayola released a box of crayons called “Colors of the World,” which includes 24 new crayons in a variety of over 40 different skin tones, from “very light rose” to “deep almond.” Costa Rica legalized same sex marriage.
NASA named their headquarters in Washington, D.C., after Mary W. Jackson, the first Black woman to work as an engineer in the agency. The Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house in Barcelona performed a concert for a hall full of plants. Historical musical “Hamilton” was released on Disney+.
Black-owned businesses saw sales rise, following a social media campaign. A glove that translates sign language into English in real time has been developed by scientists at UCLA. A global warming campaign in India saw 250 million trees planted. Shoe company Zappos announced it would begin selling single shoes and mixed size pairs of shoes for people with prosthetics. Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to coach on the field during a major league baseball game. Researchers in Australia created a blood test that can determine coronavirus infection in about 20 minutes. Astrophysicists across the world created the largest three-dimensional map of the universe, called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
Africa eradicated wild poliovirus, marking it the fifth of six regions in the World Health Organization to be free of the disease. Social enterprise Thankyou permanently stopped production of bottled water, citing environmental harm as the reason. Archaeologists in Israel discovered 425 early Islamic gold coins, most dating from around 1,100 years ago. Parachutist Raphael Domjan completed the first jump from a solar-powered aircraft, jumping from nearly 5,000 feet over western Switzerland. A bronze statue honoring women’s rights activists Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Standon and Susan B. Anthony was unveiled in Central Park, the first statue of women to be placed in the park.
Forest Grove, Oregon, employed a team of 230 goats to graze on undergrowth on undeveloped property in a move to reduce the risk of wildfires. Author James Patterson donated more than $11 million to teachers struggling with the pandemic. The Ban Boon Rueang community in northern Thailand stopped their wetland forest from being turned into an industrial zone by providing evidence that the wetland protects the community from floods.
Tasmanian devils were reintroduced into the wild in mainland Australia for the first time in 3,000 years. Scientists Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discoveries on black holes. Singapore launched a nature park that covers 990 acres, part of an effort to plant 1 million trees across the city-state by 2030. A 500 meter tall coral reef was discovered in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the first to be discovered in more than 120 years.
Coloradans voted to reintroduce gray wolves to the state, supporting the recovery of the endangered species. Brazillian pianist João Carlos Martins regained the ability to play piano through the invention of some “bionic gloves” designed by Ubiratan Bizarro Costa. Chris Nikic became the first athlete with Downs Syndrome to complete an Iron Man race, consisting of swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and running a 26.2-mile marathon. Drugmaker Pfizer said that an early look at data from their coronavirus vaccine showed it is more than 90% effective.