Parts of 2020 That Didn’t Totally Suck

Somehow, this year has felt impossibly short and unbelievably long at the same time. It has been an exhausting wave of tragedy, disease, and international lockdown for so long, that most of us can’t even picture things going back to normal (whatever that now means). With that being said, it's important to remember that amid all the chaos, 2020 actually broke some good records, too. Here are five incredible things that happened this year, despite the overall disdain that 2020 brought. 

A young woman convinced the Bahamas to ban single-use plastics

Environmental scientist, Kristal Ambrose, has been fighting climate change in the Bahamas for years. In 2020, her years of activism finally paid off. Leading a team of youth activists, she convinced the national government to ban single-use plastics. This includes single-use plastic grocery bags, styrofoam containers, plastic utensils, and plastic straws. Ambrose’s years of science-backed climate justice won her international attention

An Indigenous-rights land defender saved 500,000 acres of the rainforest from destruction

A woman named Nemonte Nenquimo, a member of the Waorani indigenous community in Ecuador, saved 500,000 acres of the rainforest from harmful oil extraction. Her activism set a huge precedent not only for environmental activism but Indigenous land rights as well. Her activism, which included the ground grassroots land defence and digital campaigning, has now changed regulation of mass oil extraction in the rainforest. Nenquimo won the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize for all her hard work.

Christina Koch broke records for women in space

NASA-astronaut, Christina Koch, completed the longest-ever space mission. The previous record for women in space was set by Peggy Whitson in 2017, who spent 289 days in space. The longest-ever single-flight space mission was created by Scott Kelly in 2016, who spent a total of 340 days in space. Christina Koch’s record of 328 days, is the second-longest single-flight space mission ever, and the longest for a woman. And what really makes this record crazy is that this mission was Koch’s first-ever space flight.

A 15-year-old girl is using science to fight water pollution

In an interview with Angelina Jolie, a 15-year-old scientist, Gitanjali Rao, explained that her new invention is aimed to detect contaminants in water. Her ultimate goal is to make this technology simple and accessible for people struggling with access to clean drinking water in both North America and all over the world. The Colorado teenager was inspired to create this product after hearing about the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. She’s been winning awards for her inventions since 2017 and was named TIME Magazine’s first-ever Kid of The Year.

Same-sex marriage was finally legalized in Northern Ireland

After numerous votes, revotes, petitions, and thousands of political activists, Northern Ireland finally legalized same-sex marriage. While the law states that both secular and religious same-sex marriages will be acknowledged, the Quakers are the only religious group so far to host these weddings. In fact, the Quakers have been leading the religious fight towards the federal legalization of same-sex marriages since 2009. Northern Ireland is the last country in the United Kingdom to legalize same-sex marriages. With the new legislation in place, thousands of same-sex couples in civil unions will now have the ability to actualize their partnerships into marriages, a huge win for LGBT rights across the country.