The Year That Was
Kudos to you if you are reading this, you made it through 2016! As the cold, lifeless winter gales sweep across the northern hemisphere and freeze everything to be preserved until summer comes along, we take a good look at the eventful year that we leave behind.
Guns, Bombs, and The Ones Who Passed On
Two days into the New Year, heavily armed gunmen infiltrated the Indian Air force base in Pathankot and opened fire at military personnel. Four attackers and two soldiers were killed in the incident. Later in January, Boko Haram burnt down a village in Dalori, Nigeria. 86 people were killed in the gruesome incident, and as the toll stands, 2.5 million people have been forced to flee from four nations due to the onslaught of the Islamic extremist group. A suicide attack in Damascus killed about 70 people as two suicide bombers and a car hit the Sayeda Zeinab area of Damascus where one of Syria’s holiest Shi’ite shrine is located. The mass murdering of people and humanity for the sake of religious beliefs continued later in the year as tremors were felt across the west when a coordinated suicide bombing took place in Brussels, Belgium. The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant claimed responsibility for the attack which killed around 32 civilians and injured 300 more. On 18th September, in what is regarded as the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in the past two decades, four heavily armed gunmen barged into the Indian Army base and opened fire at the military personnel killing 17 soldiers in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir. A security guard killed 49 people in a hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was regarded as the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in the history of the United States. The turmoil in the Middle East continued to smolder and there were widespread acts of terrorism as the ISIS continued to flex its muscle across the globe. On December 19th, a cargo truck was driven into a Christmas market in Berlin which left 12 people dead and 56 others injured. Meanwhile, North Korea claimed to have conducted a successful nuclear test near its boundary, the fifth in the series, and the largest among all. On the same day, the Russian ambassador to turkey, Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov, was assassinated by an off-duty policeman while speaking at an art exhibition in Turkey, escalating the tensions in the region.
The Fall of Aleppo
The most populous city of Syria which became the battleground of a long-waged war between the forces of Bashar al-Assad and the rebels was bombed and flattened by Assad’s forces with major help from the Russian Airforce. With reports coming in that the Pro-Assad forces gunned down civilians, the UN called the Aleppo offensive a “complete meltdown of humanity”. Social media was full of live tweets and videos of civilians posting their last words and wishes moments before their death as missiles and bombs came crashing down their ceilings. According to estimates, 470,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war till date.
Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Breaks 3 Million-year Record
The proportion of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere broke 400 parts per million in the month of May 2016. The use of fossil fuel is considered to be a major cause of this worrisome milestone. The amount of Carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate of 2.5 ppm per year. Given that the new president of the United States does not believe in climate change, the situation does seem to be caught in the eye of a tangerine tornado.
The United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union after a referendum — a vote in which everyone of voting age could take part — was held in June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain a part of the EU. Leave won by 52% to 48%. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned and his position was taken over by Theresa May. The value of the pound reached a 30-year low. Britain also lost its top AAA credit rating, as Britain embarked on a journey of extricating itself from a complex set of interconnections affecting every facet of economic life.
Death of Harambe
On a warm summer afternoon, a three-year-old boy climbed into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and was grabbed and dragged by Harambe, a 17-year old Western lowland gorilla. Fearing for the boy’s life, a zoo worker shot and killed Harambe. The incident was recorded on video and received broad international coverage. Harambe became the subject of multiple viral memes, and earned the status of the “Meme of the year–2016.”
It’s allegedly stated that about 11,000 people voted for Harambe during the US presidential elections. CNN has countered this claim by putting forward the point that Harambe was not an eligible candidate as the minimum age requirement for a presidential candidate has been set at 35. Harambe died young, and will continue to live on in our memories. RIP.
Donald Trump becomes the President of The United States
Donald John Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States. In a stunning culmination of an explosive, populist, and polarizing campaign that took relentless aim at the institutions and long-held ideals of American democracy.
Mr. Trump does not believe in scientific evidence that climate change is real, and wants to dismantle the Paris agreement. Known for his outrageous statements, after a video from 2005 of Trump making obscene comments and bragging about sexually abusing women was released, the Republican hopeful responded by writing the episode off as just ‘locker room banter.’ Later on, in a presidential rally, the audience laughed it out when Trump declared: ‘Nobody has more respect for women than I do’. In fact, a study found out, that Trump is more unpopular than lice, traffic jams, and the Canadian rock band Nickelback. Given the influence the USA exerts on the entire world, the upcoming years are set to be highly volatile.
2016 took a lot of brilliant souls away from us, their deaths came as a shock even as we mourned and grieved the loss of the ones they followed. The void will always remain unfilled and their roles and work in their respective fields will always be remembered. The likes of Muhammad Ali, Prince, Arnold Palmer, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and David Bowie find a place among a long list of famous and influential people who left us this year.
The past year was one marred by deaths, controversies, and shocks. It was not among the best of the years, that we would want to cherish in our memories, but then, it wasn’t that bad now, was it? Well, sure DJ Bobby performed at a nightclub in Delhi, and Dabbing became an international trend, but 2016 was still the year of hope!
Volunteers in India planted a record-shattering 50 million saplings in 24 hours, global suicide rates came down, and it was China’s most generous year ever as it donated $15 Billion in charity and aid.
It took a major Ebola epidemic that led to more than an 11,000 dead, but we finally have a successful Ebola vaccine candidate in development. If approved, the vaccine would vastly reduce the likelihood of another major Ebola outbreak.
Space-X successfully lands a rocket on robotically maneuvered ship
The private spaceflight company landed its Falcon-9 rocket for the 6th time in the last 11 months on the deck of a robotic ship called ‘Of Course I Still Love You,’ stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Cheerful much?
The Oscars won Leonardo DiCaprio!
Putting an end to endless speculations and internet memes, Leo finally got the coveted Oscar for his leading role in “The Revenant.” The greater than life actor and tireless climate change activist used the stage to put forward the point that climate change is real, and said: “For our children’s children… Let’s not take this planet for granted. I do not take this night for granted.”
Giant Pandas are No Longer Endangered
In a welcome piece of good news for the world’s threatened wildlife, the giant panda has been downgraded from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Vulnerable’ on the global list of species at risk of extinction, demonstrating how an integrated approach can help save our planet’s vanishing biodiversity. You can hope to see more pandas frolicking in their lazy existence as they continue to remain the symbol of cuteness across the globe.
Further, according to WWF, the population of Wild Tigers has increased in the past 100 years, Manatees are no longer endangered, Wild Wolves are back in Europe, and Wild Salmon are spawning the Connecticut River for the first time since the American Revolution. The Columbian white-tailed deer is no longer endangered, and the Humpback whale is no longer an endangered species. Also, Sea World would no longer breed killer whales. Talk about eventful!
The Ozone Layer is Repairing Itself
The ozone layer, which shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays, shows encouraging signs that it’s beginning to heal over the Southern Polar regions, according to research published in the journal of Science. Scientists credit the healing to an international policy set in motion nearly three decades ago that cut the production of ozone-destroying chemicals.
The world is witnessing a huge rush towards renewable energy as China plans to go completely renewable by 2020. The deforestation in Norway for the past year was 0! More power to all the green rangers (no pun intended).
Conservative Jewish Rabbis Take a Stand for Transgender Rights
The resolution acknowledged the struggle of transgender Jews and the broader discrimination that exists toward transgender people in society — particularly in the realms of health care, employment and retirement benefits. It called upon synagogues to adopt certain accommodations that will protect the rights of all people regardless of their gender or sexuality.
Milestone in Global Literacy
93% of the world’s children learned to read and write, imagine what’s possible in a world where everyone can read and write. We’re getting very close to that now thanks to the dedicated hard work of hundreds of thousands of educators over the last few decades. That’s definitely something worth celebrating.
Child Mortality has gone down across the world, the survival rate of patients suffering from pancreatic cancer has increased by 9%, the gene responsible for ALS has been found. We now have mind controlled robot arms, a solar-powered plane made a trip across the entire planet, Malaria is down by 60%, and Measles has been eradicated from the Americas.
Into the Future
As the blue dot completes another revolution around the sun, we remember all those who could not make it. And for those who did, we keep in mind that our existence is but a small part of the greater cosmic picture. All the fear, hatred, and violence that seem to consume our lives are but smudges, a mere creation of our minds.
Here’s to the realization that our lives, while highly precious, are a part of a far far bigger picture, that we walk on a thread that swings between life and death every single day. We are always a moment away from becoming a completely different person for the rest of our lives. So here’s to hope! That we always stay humble and kind, and always keep looking forward, courageously, to whatever may come.
Quoting Morgan Freeman from Se7en: ‘Ernest Hemmingway once wrote, “The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for”. I agree with the second part.’
We at MTTN wish you a Happy New Year’s Day and a wonderful year to come!
-Peeyush Chauhan for MTTN