16 events from 2016 that should give you hope for the future

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Two women get doused during the ice bucket challenge at Boston’s Copley Square, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 to raise funds and awareness for ALS.
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Elise Amendola/AP

This past year might have been a trying one, but among the negative news stories were plenty of bright spots.

For every celebrity death, there was a scientific breakthrough. For every bit of political nonsense (well, maybe not every bit of nonsense) there were leaps forward in clean energy.

In case you’re feeling down about 2016, here’s a reminder that, in a lot of ways, the world really is getting better.


Populations of tigers, pandas, and manatees all started growing for the first time in years.

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Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

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All of Portugal ran on solar energy for four days straight.

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Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuters

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Scientists detected gravitational waves for the first time ever, furthering our understanding of the origins of the universe.

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LIGO

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Funds raised by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from 2014 led to the discovery of a significant gene responsible for the disease.

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Elise Amendola/AP

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Sri Lanka was declared malaria-free by the World Health Organization.

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David Gray/Reuters

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Researchers discovered a special kind of strobe light that temporarily reverses Alzheimer’s damage in mice.

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Flickr/Global Pandora

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Facebook announced a partnership with five fact-checking organizations to prevent fake news from appearing on users’ News Feeds.

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Chevy debuted the first mass-market electric vehicle, the Bolt, which costs less than $30,000 and can travel further on a single charge than Tesla’s vehicles.

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Chevrolet

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SpaceX landed a rocket smoothly on a ship, a world first that showed how expensive rockets could be flown more than once.

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SpaceX/Flickr (public domain)

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Dozens more stores, including the entire Mall of America, stayed closed on Thanksgiving Day to give employees time with their families.

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Pakistan passed a law outlawing ‘honor killings’ — murders of relatives pardoned by other family members.

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Fayyaz Hussain/Reuters

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Harriet Tubman was announced as the successor to Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

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Women on 20s

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A solar-powered plane, the Solar Impulse 2, completed its year-long journey around the world, taking off and touching down in Abu Dhabi.

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REUTERS/Eugene Tanner/Pool

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New York City became the first US city to hand out free tampons in schools, prisons, and homeless shelters.

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LOLA

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Over 800 hostages held by Boko Haram were rescued by the Nigerian army.

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Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

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India planted 50 million trees in one day, setting a new world record.

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Jayanta Dey/Reuters

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