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Four noteworthy global achievements of 2021

As the countdown to the new year begins, we’re taking a look back at some of the most notable achievements throughout the last twelve months.

It’d be an understatement to say that 2021 has provided us with nonstop chaos and unpredictable world events.

On top of juggling new variants of the not-so-novel-anymore coronavirus, we’ve witnessed one of the most crucial decision-making periods for the wellbeing of our planet at COP26.

In some places, there were huge political shifts – from Donald Trump’s expulsion from a position of US presidency, to progressive, left-wing politics re-emerging in certain parts of South America like Chile and Peru – just as neighbouring countries tightened their own conservative politics in Colombia and Brazil.

At face value, the world appears to have become rapidly polarised on a myriad of important matters. But there have been some major global breakthroughs, progressing society forward in a positive and irrevocable way – thanks to scientists, activists, and humanitarians around the world.

Let’s take a look at these key instances as the year wraps up.

We advanced our exploration of a faraway planet

NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars in February of this year. The mission had set out to gather a breadth of data about the planet and history of our solar system.

In doing so, the rover broke new records, traveling 2.9km and gathering six samples of Martian rock (and counting) to be later returned to Earth for further investigation. So far, it has taken over 100,000 images of the barren planet and collected 50GB of valuable scientific data.

Even crazier, NASA’s helicopter named Ingenuity hitched a ride on the Perseverance and completed 18 flights across the planet.

This ongoing collection of interplanetary knowledge brings humanity closer to the prospect of Mars becoming our secondary home sometime in the distant future.

HIV Vaccine trial shows promising results in early stages

Almost four decades of research has gone into eliminating the virus strain that causes HIV in humans.

In phase I of a 2021 trial, scientists discovered that a new vaccine formula worked to stimulate an immune response in 97 percent of participants.

The virus itself has been particularly elusive for those working to develop a cure. Since its emergence in the early 1980s, the virus has mutated quickly and effectively, which (as many of us will know from COVID) makes it difficult to eradicate by way of vaccinations.

With 38 million people affected by the disease globally, the early stages of this clinical trial have been very promising. Scientists continue to test the new vaccine formula and news of widespread rollout could be on the horizon thanks to their dedication.

Redditors raised money for animal conservation

Remember when Reddit users trolled stock market experts by investing thousands into GameStop, a gaming store which has continued to lose much of its value since the mid-noughties?

Well, in March of this year, the subreddit WallStreetBets decided to work towards the greater good. Users banded together to raise $350,000 for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda, which works to protect endangered mountain gorillas.

The success of the post on Reddit was upvoted 159,000 times and resulted in the adoption of 3,500 gorillas – a huge jump from the usual 20 adopted from the foundation each week.

If you’re unsure why gorillas would be the animal of choice to protect in Africa, we’d recommend watching Virunga, a documentary available on Netflix which highlights the work of conservationists protecting these species in the Congo.

America made Juneteenth a national holiday

The United States has had a difficult time with confronting social injustice, in particular, its history of slavery and systemic marginalisation of Black Americans.

This year, Juneteeth (June 19th) – a previously unofficial day for celebration of emancipation for those enslaved during America’s history – was declared a federal holiday. It was the first new federal holiday put in place since Martin Luther King Jr. Day began in 1983.

Of course, a breadth of work needs to be done to continue addressing and eliminating the systemic problem of racism in America, but this move from President Biden brings the nation one step closer to acknowledging its murky past.

 

So while this year might’ve felt a little doom and gloom at times, the resilience of humanity – and our desire to strive for the greater good – remains evident.

There’s quite a few more achievements we could’ve highlighted here, but we want to keep these lists snappy, so stay tuned for more of these features coming up soon!

 

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