For a lot of people, 2020 hasn’t been great. Maybe that’s a bit of an understatement. What with the lock downs and unemployment due to the global pandemic and the polarization of politics unlike anything ever before seen in the United States, a lot of people are willing to just write off this year entirely.
The Future is Brighter than it May Seem- and Here’s Why!
Beyond that, though, I’ve seen a growing attitude of nihilistic pessimism propagating through the culture. Sure, this year has got people down in general. It’s like everyone has had to fold their 2020 hands in their online casino games. It’s completely understandable, but I’m trying to speak to something a little broader than that.
Everyone is so bombarded with everything terrible that’s happening in the world, they know next to nothing about the preponderance of things that we should be proud of. We should all be looking forward towards just over the horizon. The night is darkest just before the dawn, and all that.
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to point out all the things going on to make you excited for 2021 and beyond!
So let’s tackle the big one first. Covid-19 is basically the biggest reason this year has kind of sucked. The “fifteen days to flatten the curve” has been drawn into a nine-month fiasco, and everyone went nuts over this disease with its 0.03% mortality rate, depending on whether or not you’re in the risk group. People ran out and stockpiled toilet paper. Everyone’s wearing masks, face shields, and milk cartons just to go to the local grocery store.
That being said, it seems like all of that’s almost over! Doses of the vaccine are being shipped worldwide and are already being administered to doctors, nurses, and susceptible demographics. Of the two million that were predicted to die at the start of this thing (in the United States), we saved over 1.6 million of those people.
Now we can argue about the details of the numbers, whether or not the death rate is inflated or not, the number of asymptomatic cases, and whatnot, but the point is that a lot of people were supposed to die, but most of them didn’t. And that’s worth being happy about.
What’s special about the Covid vaccines is that they use messenger RNA (mRNA) to help battle the disease. This is one of the first times it’s been successfully used, but its usefulness extends beyond just Covid. Israeli scientists are currently using a similar mRNA technology to fight cancer. According to the Jerusalem Post, the tests found an increased life expectancy in mice between 30 to 80 percent- which is really cool.
Unrelated to Covid, the development of vaccines for more generic flu strains have still been chugging away. Recently, a pharmaceutical company made progress towards a more universal Flu Vaccine. Now I’m no chemist / biologist, but from what I understand, the pharmacists basically just changed tactics.
There was a protein that was specifically being targeted in Flu Viruses that varied wildly between these viruses. In their new design, the pharmacists target a stem-like part of these proteins that seem to be more generalized between viruses.
So far, their vaccine has passed phase 1 trials with sixty-five test patients and are moving to phase 2 trials. Now, it’s important to note that this vaccine doesn’t defeat ALL types of Flu, but even successfully protecting against more than one Flu Virus at a time would be a significant feat.
Also, from the medical world, did you hear that the Video Game “Cyberpunk 2077” just came out? Well, Bionics are real! A wide variety of them, too, and the quality of these cybernetics are leagues beyond anything we had before. There are robot fingers, hands, arms, and legs.
Heck, in 2019, a company called Orion managed to project images directly into the brain. Not HD, or even what we would consider “low resolution”, but it’s a start to restoring vision to the blind.
There are more options than ever for amputees and the disabled, and the fact that we’re living this sci-fi fantasy is incredible.
Now shifting focus to more tangential issues, climate change is a topic a lot of people are concerned about. Nobody wants to see the Earth ruined. The question is, how is the Earth being affected by us, and what can actually be done to stop it.
I’ve listened to podcasts all the time with people who seem to believe that humanity is screwed and that until we give eating all meat and stop having children, the Earth is going to boil up and we’re all gonna die.
I’m here to say that humanity is a lot more durable and inventive than these people seem to give us credit for and that the solutions to a lot of the worst problems are not going to be solved by blanket banning daily life, but by the invention of new and better technologies that will solve the problems, we inadvertently created.
Are you worried about plastic in the ocean? Companies have invented biodegradable plastics.
Worried about cow farts heating the planet? Lab-grown synthetic meats are being developed and are slowly being improved. I don’t think it’ll be all that long before they look, taste, and smell exactly the same as the real deal and are more cost-effective to produce than raising livestock.
According to the BBC, Singapore just legalized the sale of a new lab-grown chicken in restaurants. It’s rather expensive at the moment, but the price is likely to come down in time. A world where animals aren’t slaughtered for food may be here within a decade.
Worried about humans causing animals to go extinct? While numerous animals are certainly being pushed to extinction by humans, there are loads that are not only surviving but thriving thanks to humanity.
Obviously, cats, dogs, and other household pets are living it up alongside humans, but there are also plenty of animals that have adapted thoroughly to city life, including pigeons, falcons, raccoons, and rats.
Then there are the species that would have died out on their own that, thanks to human assistance, are still around with us today, such as Koalas and Pandas- both of whom are species so evolutionary inept that human assistance is the SOLE reason they haven’t died out yet.
Meanwhile, while efforts to stop ivory poaching hasn’t done much, Elephants may yet survive anyway. A rare trait found in 4% of African Elephants causes them to be born without tusks, which may save them as a species since these Elephants are worthless to poachers.
Thanks to, er, unnatural selection, the only African Elephants that may be left will be tuskless and thus be the continuation of elephants. An evolution of Elephants genetically selected for that will be safe from poachers.
Even Climate Change and Global Warming are being combated with innovative new technologies. While electric cars like Tesla just shift where the pollution happens (from the cars to the powerplants), if we can generate power more cleanly, such as with Nuclear power, then there’s a path forward for the clean energy industry.
While Solar and Wind are unfortunately unreliable at the moment for large-scale power generation, and Nuclear generates waste by products, France is actually at the forefront of Nuclear Recycling. Yeah, we can recycle radioactive waste! Ain’t that something?
Now maybe I’m jumping the gun a little, but I think the world is more peaceful now than it has ever been in all of human history. While China and America are currently butting heads as the world’s two largest superpowers, we don’t seem to be close to any sort of world war.
Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump gets a good chunk of credit for that.
Since he intervened, North Korea has been more amicable with South Korea than it has ever been and they currently aren’t threatening to Nuke Seoul, which is nice. Under his term, Donald Trump started no new wars (a first since Jimmy Carter!), destroyed ISIS, and pulled troops from the Middle-East. Remember when we thought World War 3 was going to break out with Iran back in, like, January? Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Most incredibly, Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, negotiated not one, not two, but FOUR Middle-East Peace Deals between Israel and its neighbors. The United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain, and Morocco have all agreed to normalize their relationship with the stubborn democracy and have now officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty. If that had happened in any other year, we would be over the moon about it.
We have really made a lot of progress on loads of social problems across the world. For instance, gay marriage is now legal almost universally across the Western World. You couldn’t say THAT a decade ago.
Extreme poverty has been decreasing consistently across the globe, and to the point where extreme poverty might disappear in the West by 2030 (according to some graphs I saw from ourworldindata.org).
Meanwhile, big tech and censorship have been an important issue for anyone who uses the internet regularly, and I’m pleased to say that there’s at least been a step taken towards an end. While a bill to revise Section-230 died in committee, Facebook is now being charged with violating anti-trust laws and engaging in anti-competitive practices.
This case is huge, with forty-eight(!) states joining the suit against Facebook. Will a bipartisan dislike of Facebook finally unite the American people? Who knows, but at least some real action is finally being taken, and that’s good!
If there was anything I hope you take away from this article, it’s this: The world’s an amazing place. It’s got its problems, and it’s far from perfect, but every day we take another step towards a better future. Things may feel bad now, but the world is better than it’s ever been, and it’s only getting better. Don’t give up on humanity just yet. We’re pretty darn amazing.