Tired of reading about controlling assault weapon purchases? About ISIL (or ISIS or Daesh)? Washington gridlock?
How about the 20 (or more) worst celebrity face-lifts? Or the eight best places to retire?
Most baby boomers feel this way. But every year writers trot out their lists that identify the best or the worst or the most noteworthy achievements. Progress in any field, however, often occurs in increments which go unrecognized or provoke hostility when first announced. Louis Alvarez’s hypothesis about an asteroid impact causing the extinction of the dinosaurs seemed so revolutionary that most paleontologists couldn’t or wouldn’t accept it for more than 20 years.
Readers must wade through reports on train wrecks and mudslides and Ponzi schemes before uncovering those few blurbs that suggest not all human endeavors are destructive or pointless. The following six accomplishments herald little-publicized or under-appreciated events that promise to make 2016 (and beyond) better:
- Cure for cancer—the Holy Grail for physicians and epidemiologists may have been found accidentally. Researcher Ali Salanti discovered that a carbohydrate found in malaria parasites is identical to that in many cancers. Modifying this malarial strain to inject a toxin when attached to the cancer cell enables it to destroy the cancer. Tests on animals have been so positive that VAR2 Pharmaceuticals will market the treatment if human tests are successful.
- Taliban assists in fighting polio—their policy change represents an about-face from restricting access to cure a disease the World Health Organization thought had been wiped out. Granted that the operatives injecting the vaccine must conform to the faction’s strict dress and behavior codes, but accepting a medical practice previously demonized as sacrilegious constitutes a breakthrough in conservative Muslim and Western cooperation.
- Syria ceasefire—another cause for celebration was the ceasefire announcement among the factions engaged in the Syrian Civil War. Not only does this truce promise to reduce the flow of refugees and refocus hostilities toward the thugs comprising ISIL, it signals the first time in years the two major players in the region, Iran and Saudi Arabia (Shiite and Sunni Moslems, respectively) met at the conference table and agreed to cooperate.
- Keystone pipeline rejection—symbolic as President Obama’s decision was, it paved the way for America’s participation in the climate accords reached in Paris in November. No longer would this country eschew a leadership role in reducing carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere which promotes global warming and mass migrations.
- Federal Reserve Board hikes interest rates—this hike signifies the U.S. economy has recovered from the Great Recession of 2008. Though pockets of unemployment still remain and wages do not reflect recent prosperity, the Fed’s move recognizes the economy has stabilized enough to charge a modicum of interest to those interested in investment opportunities.
- Space X lands at Cape Canaveral—not only does this accomplishment signify the privatization of America’s space program, by landing reusable rocket boosters it moved the program one step closer to realizing Space X CEO Elon Musk’s ambition to colonize Mars.
Skeptics take note: if the above developments fail, a lucky few may find sanctuary on another planet. All six have drawbacks. The Taliban is still a destructive force in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran and Saudi Arabia remain at loggerheads throughout the Middle East. The American economy remains hostage to internal and external pressures beyond its control. Even the cancer cure is years away before testing begins on humans. Yet, these developments comprise an antidote to all the negativity reported over the past year. Rather than plan a rocket escape to another planet should things go wrong, doubling down our efforts to cooperate, preserve, and protect this one still would be the wisest course of action.
Would you add anything to the list?
1. Cancer immunotherapy uses the immune system to treat cancer and the fact that cancer cells often have subtly different molecules on their surface that can be detected by the immune system known as cancer antigens; cancer antigens are often proteins or other macromolecules (e.g. carbohydrates) like the malarial treatment now being tested.
Polio victim in Afghanistan
2. The Taliban’s policy change represents an about-face from restricting access to cooperation on a disease the World Health Organization thought had been wiped out. Operatives injecting the vaccine must conform to the faction’s strict dress and behavior codes, but accepting a medical practice previously demonized as sacrilegious constitutes a breakthrough in conservative Muslim and WestTaliban’s policy change represents an about-face from restricting access to cure a disease tern cooperationhe World Health Organization thought had been wiped out. Operatives injecting the vaccine must conform to the faction’s strict dress and behavior codes, but accepting a medical practice previously demonized as sacrilegious constitutes a breakthrough in conservative Muslim and West.
Kerry addresses UN
3. Various factions in the Syrian civil war announced a ceasefire that promises to reduce the flow of refugees and refocus the fight against ISIL. The agreement marks the first time in years the two major players in the region, Iran and Saudi Arabia, met at the conference table and agreed to cooperate.
President rejects Keystone pipeline
4. U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R), announces his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, at the White House November 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama cited concerns about the impact on the environment, saying it would not serve the interests of the United States.
Stock market reacts to Fed’s decision
5. Traders in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index options pit at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) react to the Federal Reserves interest rate hike December 16, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Federal Reserves raised the interest rates for the first time since 2006 by 0.25 percentage points.
Space X rocket takeoff
6. The landing of Space X booster at Cape Canaveral signals the privatization of America’s space program. Employing reusable rocket boosters moves the U.S. program one step closer to realizing Space X CEO Elon Musk’s ambition to colonize Mars.