2022 has been a weird year. We have returned to some elements of our pre-pandemic lives (such as in-person conferences). However, we know that COVID is still out there, and we still need to pay attention to it. Inflation is up. Gas prices rose, then fell. Unemployment is down. Real wages are up. I wanted to focus on some developments that we can be grateful for this year. In and around the craziness and toxic discourse, some awesome things have happened.
Well, this just happened. Scientists were able to conduct a nuclear fusion reaction that created more energy that went into it. Fusion will not be commercialized anytime soon, but the accomplishment bodes well for creating a climate-friendly way to generate electricity. I am grateful for any positive climate news.
The James Webb Space Telescope
I admit that I am an astronomy geek. Astronomers and those who would know are freaking out about how much JWST is changing what we know (and thought we knew) about the universe. Even if you just like the images, that is enough to be grateful for JWST. I see all these dots and blurry ovals in a JWST photograph and it boggles my mind that each of these is a galaxy! How can that be possible?
The World Cup
I am not a big soccer fan. However, when I see how the rest of the world is responding to World Cup matches, I am grateful to experience some of the passion that drives soccer fans. A podcast commenter noted how his Moroccan taxi driver pulled over and cried when Morocco won its match. There is something there, no doubt.
Mauna Loa Eruption
Mauna Loa, the biggest of the volcanoes on the island of Hawaii, began erupting after a 38-year hiatus. The eruptions have ceased, but while they were happening you could get a visceral sense of what makes our world. When I saw Mauna Loa erupting, it reminded me that I am a tiny fish in a very small pond. Humility makes it easier to be grateful.
I have enjoyed seeing NASA restart a program to go to the Moon. Watching Artemis I successfully launch, and the Orion space capsule return to Earth, I marvel at the technology required to make something look easy to accomplish.
Karen Bass and Ketanji Brown Jackson
Los Angeles has had its share of bad political news lately. One bright spot has been the election of Karen Bass as LA’s first female mayor. She has a full agenda of problems to tackle, but I think her fresh perspective is just what LA needs right now. (Spoken as a former Angeleno.)
As well, Ketanji Brown Jackson has become the first female African American to be appointed to the US Supreme Court. I believe in diversity and am grateful when I see more of it.
Nearly a million immigrants to the US were granted citizenship this year. And the US Citizenship and Immigration reduced its application backlog by 62%.
Bivalent COVID Booster
The drug companies released a COVID vaccine booster that is effective against the original version of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Good news! And COVAX announced that is has released a billion doses of vaccine. We can all be grateful for that!
The world has surpassed one terawatt (one million million watts) of solar installations, enough to supply electricity to all of Europe. Plus, solar module costs have declined over the past decade, from $2.50 per watt to under $1 per watt.
Delayed Crab Season
Serving Dungeness crab for Thanksgiving and Christmas is a thing in California. However, the crab season opening has been delayed. Why am I grateful for that? Because the delay has occurred to allow humpback whales more time to migrate from Monterey Bay and other crab fishing locations along the coast. I can make room for whales.
I wanted to note a few other good news items for 2022.
- The number of independent bookstores increased 18% this year.
- A national suicide prevention hotline, 988, has opened.
- The National Basketball Association announced that it would not schedule games on election day in the US next season (they did the same this season).
Of course, what I am most grateful for has been all the positive comments from you about my posts and all your well wishes. Here’s to a great 2023!