2016 has been a historic year. For some, it’s the best year they’ve seen in a while. For the rest, we wish it had just never happened. This year was huge in some ways more than others. We elected the person who’s going to lead our country for the next four years in a historic race. We lost countless lives due to mass shootings and terrorist attacks. We had to let go of some of our most beloved celebrities to ever grace our screens and our headphones. And although the most talked about stories seemed like too much to handle, there’s plenty we still don’t know about 2016’s other historic events.
Obviously, you’d have to live under a rock to not know about the 2016 election. Even if you didn’t care about who our next president was going to be, there was absolutely no escaping political posts and news headlines at every turn. And no matter what level of fan you are for the countless celebrities we lost this year, there’s a chance one of your favorites was taken too soon in 2016. But while the biggest news sources, as well as your friends, were talking about the latest things to happen, there are plenty of pretty big stories you probably missed.
There’s no way we’ll be able to report on everything that happened this year, but we hand- selected 15 things you probably didn’t know happened this year that we definitely think you should know. Have you already heard this news or thought of something we missed? Let us know and share with your friends to spread the news!
15. We Got Close To Developing A Male Birth Control
For decades, a woman’s reproductive organs have been solely her responsibility while also being regulated by white men in charge. It was up to a woman to ensure she would not get pregnant, even if it wasn’t her decision to have sex in the first place. Well, for the first time, scientists developed a male birth control that would take some of the responsibility off the woman. The only problem? They didn’t like the side effects that came along with it. The even bigger problem? They complained of the same side effects that women have been having issues with since the birth control pill’s inception. Only as soon as the men complained, they were no longer given the medication and it was determined it wasn’t quite ready. But when women complain of the same problems, the pill is distributed anyways. It’s at least hopeful that we’re getting a bit closer to developing a pill that would split the responsibility of childbearing protection equally.
14. U.S. Graduation Rate Reaches A Record High
For the first time in U.S. history, our current graduation rate sits at 83.2 percent among high school students. While the goal is still to be at 100 percent, the high number is still welcome considering low rates in the past. The number is still low for students of color, with the lowest rate being 71.6 percent among Native American students. But with attention to low-income students and schools in lower-class areas, the rate has been on a steady increase in the past several years. The highest increase in the past years has occurred throughout president Barack Obama’s presidency. Let’s hope that throughout the next four years with a new president that number only continues to increase. As soon as we stop paying attention to granting money to schools and ensuring they stay open, that 83.2 percent will quickly begin to decline again. The most important thing to creating a prosperous society is to start with encouraging and aiding students.
13. Panda Population Reaches A Record High
Pandas are officially no longer considered endangered species. We guess that makes our Zoo Tycoon games antiqued now if they still have the Panda right on the cover? In all seriousness, this is the first time the animal hasn’t made the endangered species list since 1990! They are still classified as vulnerable, but the status gives us hope that we should never give up on an animal no matter how small their population may be. Although this is wonderful news in the world of animal conservatism, we can’t relax just yet. It’s hopeful to see that these animals are no longer threatened as much as they used to be, but while their statuses change for the better, many other animals find themselves decreasing as well. Bees are in serious trouble right now, and although Pandas are insanely cute, bees are necessary for our survival. Great Apes are another group of animals that have seen a serious threat to their status this year as well.
12. 739 People Have Been Murdered In Chicago
If you live in or are from the Chicagoland area, you already know about the city’s problem with violence and death that mayor Rahm Emanuel chooses to repeatedly ignore. The city stocks the high-end stores downtown with police officers at every corner while neglecting the rampant gang violence that causes mass deaths across the city. This year already, Chicago has seen over 700 of its civilians murdered. Most of these deaths resulted from shootings, but others occurred due to various violent murders as well. This doesn’t even include the countless others who were injured in similar situations. Even though this is just one city in our huge world, it’s still a giant problem that’s worrisome all over our planet. How many lives have to be taken until something is done about gun control? Or does the issue begin before a gun gets put into a criminal’s hand? Let’s hope this number is much smaller in 2017.
11. The Pope Forgives Abortions
Abortion has been highly politicized since doctor’s were aware they could even perform the procedure. This is mostly due to the religious views that people have towards the procedure, even though the church should remain separate from the state. But in a shocking letter released this year, the pope has extended power to Catholic priests to forgive the grave sin of abortion. Abortion remains just that, a grave sin, in the eyes of the Catholic Church; however, for the first time in history, abortions are forgivable. Pope Francis wants to remind everyone that the church should remain an open place for anyone and that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven by the church. Although having an abortion is totally legal, many people struggle with the morality of the medical procedure, believing it ends an innocent life. This new power allows those whose religious beliefs state that abortion is a sin, to forgive themselves or any family and friends who have undergone the procedure.
10. The Ozone Layer Is Actually Repairing Itself
For the longest time, we’ve believed that once the ozone layer is gone, we’re not getting it back. For those of you who missed the ozone layer lesson in science class, it’s a pretty important layer that helps protect us from harmful UV rays. If we didn’t have the ozone layer, we wouldn’t really be able to go outside without our skin burning up immediately. Crops wouldn’t be able to grow, and animals wouldn’t be able to complete the circle of life. Although it’s just a thin layer of gas that surrounds our planet, the ozone layer is crucial to maintaining life on Earth. After banning certain ozone layer destroying chemicals, the Earth is finally seeing promising signs of healing within the layer. It’s not repairing itself as quickly as we were able to destroy it, but it still gives us promise that there is hope for undoing the damage humans have caused the planet so far.
9. The Ice Bucket Challenge Actually Did Something
Two years ago, it seemed as though the Ice Bucket Challenge was the next terrifying trend that would never go away. But just as quickly as it filled up our news feeds, it disappeared and wasn’t mentioned again without a trace. For a while, many people didn’t even know what it was for. But the reason behind the challenge in the first place was to bring awareness and raise money towards research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The challenge ended up raising over $100 million towards research behind the disease. Because of that money, scientists were able to discover a new gene linked to the disease. Although this hasn’t given a direct cure or preventative measure, the money has helped bring us one step closer to getting rid of another disease. The money also helped go to patients who suffer from ALS as well. Although we’re glad the challenge is over, we’re hopeful for more disease awareness in 2017.
8. Donald Trump Turned Down Intelligence Briefings
Of course we already know the big news about Trump from 2016. But there’s still plenty we still don’t know just waiting to be exposed about our future president. One of the biggest pieces of information that we’ve gained but that many may not know about was his avoidance of daily intelligence briefings. Although he is not yet president, Donald Trump has still turned down many intelligence briefings. Throughout these daily meetings, representatives from 16 U.S. intelligence agencies update and educate the president on various national security issues. These daily meetings are crucial in maintaining an intelligent and aware president. The more they know, the better they can make decisions that suit the people. But Trump feels as though they are unnecessary and chooses to spend his time hanging out in gold elevators and having steak dinners. A guy who has no desire to make himself aware of world issues isn’t promising as a strong president for the next four years.
7. A Baby Was Born To Three Different Parents
We learn at a pretty early age that it takes two people to make a baby. When mommy and daddy are in love, they decide to get together to start a family, and so it goes, right? Well what about when a third parent gets involved? For the first time in history, a baby was born to three different parents. The procedure was invented in order to aide in parents who carry fatal diseases in their genes. This particular mother had already suffered four miscarriages and two infant mortalities due to her carrying Leigh Syndrome in her DNA. The couple sought help and was chosen for this revolutionary procedure. Part of the mother’s egg was replaced with a healthy donor egg and fertilized by the father’s sperm. The result was a healthy baby boy who appears to have no harmful side effects. The procedure is meant to help those with fatal diseases, but this new medical phenomenon opens a new door in the world of reproduction.
6. New Restrictions Bring Us Closer To Having Less Smokers
Unfortunately, this isn’t 1960 anymore, and everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. In 2016, smoking is still on the decrease as it has been since more and more people became aware that cigarettes are super bad for you. But you definitely look cool, right??? Although many people still indulge in tobacco, most would probably admit that they’d wished they’d never started. But when you’re young and vulnerable and someone offers you a smoke, it can be hard to turn down. Then once you start, it’s a pretty hard habit to stop. Preventing youth from having access to purchase cigarettes as well as not allowing them to buy them at all is crucial in making sure that the population who smokes remains on a decrease. Over 100 U.S. cities have raised the smoking age to 21 years old, helping to prevent anyone younger than that to purchase tobacco products. Although legal drinking ages has never completely stopped underage drinking, it still helps to deny access in the first place.
5. We Were Able To Protect A Good Portion Of The Environment
As we’ve already learned, we’re hopeful about the future of the earth after seeing the ozone layer begin to repair itself. But the biggest lesson we’ve learned from this is that we should do our best to prevent it from being ruined in the first place. Fortunately, 2016 has seen a huge increase in environmental protection. Just this month, president Obama has prevented any offshore oil drilling until 2022. Some of our largest rainforests and deserts have also been granted protection from destruction by greedy corporate leaders. While some may fear what happens if we don’t continue to tear up the planet in search of oil, our time and money is better spent going towards protecting the environment and searching for alternatives to using oil and other non-renewable resources.
4. Ohio Women Can’t Get Abortions After 20 Weeks
In terms of abortion, more restrictions and regulations were put in place that have made it more difficult for women to decide what to do with their own bodies. Although 99 percent of all abortions occur before 20 weeks into pregnancy, there are certainly still cases that require the procedure later than that period of time. For many, having to get an abortion after 20 weeks is a traumatic experience and an incredibly difficult decision. In certain cases, it occurs in a wanted pregnancy, but the mother and doctor decide an abortion is necessary due to a fatal disease or life-threatening condition that might occur should the mother continue her pregnancy. It is never easy for anyone to make the decision to get an abortion, and we should not spend any more of our time and money on preventing this procedure when there are hungry and neglected children who aren’t getting our help already.
3. Teen Pregnancy Is At An All Time Low
Although conservatives are doing whatever they can to shut down Planned Parenthood and any other institution that only exists to prevent unwanted pregnancy and spread sex education, teen pregnancy is actually at an all-time low. For a period of time in our pop culture history, it seemed as though teen pregnancy was being glorified through reality series that followed the lives of pregnant teens. The largest factor in this consideration is the failing economy. It’s too expensive to have kids now, so everyone is having kids less, which includes teenagers. Teenagers across various studies also show a much better knowledge of pregnancy preventative measures and knowledge on having safe sex. Younger students also just aren’t having as much sex anymore either. Whatever the reason may be, it’s promising to know that the graduation rate is up and the pregnancy rate is down. This can only lead to a better and brighter future for our society as a whole.
2. 14 Bathroom Bills Failed, 4 Are Still Pending
A large part of our country was devastated this year after seeing North Carolina pass a bathroom bill that would restrict access to public restrooms to only those whose sexes aligned with the symbol on the bathroom door. Although we’ve been sharing restrooms with transgendered and gender fluid people unknowingly throughout our lives, it seems as though 2016 was the year for people to be especially concerned with the genitals of the person in the stall next to them. Although many were upset at the passing of the bathroom bill, many probably didn’t know that, even with that one pass, there were 13 other bathroom bills that failed in various states, and one that was vetoed. There are still four states with pending decisions, but we hope that the results of North Carolina’s passing will see the fall of the remaining pending bills.
1. Texas Women Will Have To Bury Their Fetuses After Abortions
Having to get an abortion is an incredibly challenging decision that one in four women will have to make in her lifetime. Getting an abortion in the first place is never easy, but white dudes everywhere make it their life goal to make sure it’s as hard as possible to make your own decision about your own body. But Texas saw the most devastating law this year after it was put in place that anyone who had an abortion would be responsible for either burying or cremating their aborted fetus. Many women make the decision to have an abortion due to not having the monetary means necessary to care for a child.
If you can’t afford to have a child, is it really practical to force someone to pay for a headstone or cremation? The disposal of the fetus is already paid for, so all this does is add an extra financial cost and unnecessary step to the process. For many women with no religious affiliation or who believe that life doesn’t necessarily start at conception, this adds a difficult emotional step, humanizing a fetus when they didn’t want to in the first place. Unfortunately, our future vice president is a huge advocate for this type of abortion, so there’s a chance Texas will be the first of many states to follow with this ridiculous law.