Someone Illustrated the Best News Stories From 2019 and Now Our Hearts Are Warm | 22 Words

As 2019 comes to a close, it's easy to focus on all the negatives this year has brought with it.

Yet, while this year has admittedly had its lows, it has also had some incredible highs that are easily forgotten amid the more negative news. Ranging from technological achievements, equality for women, and tremendous improvements to our planet, there's an awful lot that can make us proud of 2019.

So, without further ado, keep scrolling to see fifty of the best, and most heartwarming news stories from this year - And let's just say, 2020 has very big boots to fill.

1. Scientists found a type of mushroom that can completely irradicate plastic.

With our excessive use of plastic and the devastating effect it has on the environment, this piece of news has been welcomed with open arms. Pestalotiopsis Microspora is a rare species of mushroom from the Amazon rainforest that is capable of surviving off a diet of pure plastic, before converting the human-made ingredient into organic matter.

2. We're one step closer to saving White Rhinos from extinction.

The world's last male White Rhino, Sudan, sadly died last year, and hope for the survival of the species died with him. But, this year, 7 eggs from the last 2 surviving female White Rhinos have been successfully fertilized artificially, meaning that the species may have a future after all.

3. Malawi female Chief came into power and made remarkable changes.

Theresa Kachindamoto took a stand against the ancient tradition that sees teenage girls been made into wives and mothers way before the age of eighteen and has successfully annulled over 1,500 child marriages since 2017. She has also made a step towards ending poverty in Malawi, where around forty-five percent of young girls are unable to remain in school past eighth grade.

4. Swedish blood donors are now notified whenever their donation saves a life.

Donors will first receive a thank you text message after donating, but when their blood has actually been used to help another person, they are then informed of that momentous moment.

5. A man in India has spent the last thirty-five-years planting trees...

And he has managed to plant a forest larger than Central Park in the process. Back in 1979, a then sixteen-year-old Padma Shri Jadav "Molai" Payeng was devastated by the hordes of snakes who had perished in extreme heats by extreme heat in Assam, India. And, in an attempt to rebuild an environment for the surviving snakes, and out of sheer love for his homeland, Padma began planting a tree a day. And, thirty-five-years later, he hasn't stopped.

6. Norway decided against drilling for oil in a bid to protect its ecosystem.

Though Norway is one of the world’s main fossil fuels producers, it is finally putting it's foot down when it comes to drilling for oil. Their Lofoten Islands remain untouched by extraction activities, and more than 50,000 people joined the #OilFreeLoften movement and signed the petition calling on the government to keep fossil fuels out of the archipelago. And, thanks to the vote of the Labour Party against new explorations in the area, oil could soon be banned in the country permanently.

7. Amazon tribe wins legal battle against oil companies wanting to drill in the Amazon rainforest.

In more news on our fight for the environment, the Waorani people of Pastaza, an indigenous tribe from the Ecuadorian Amazon, successfully protected half a million acres of their ancestral territory in the Amazon rainforest from being mined for oil drilling by big oil companies.

8. A Thailand supermarket replaced all plastic packaging with banana leaves.

Banana leaves have been traditionally used as a packaging material for many years in various Asian countries, but Rimping supermarket in Chiangmai, Thailand, has become one of the first stores to use them on such a large scale.

9. A second person has been completely cleared of the autoimmune virus, HIV.

A Londoner living with HIV is seemingly cured after receiving a stem-cell transplant that replaced their white blood cells with HIV-resistant versions. Though scientists say it's too early to confirm whether the person is fully cured, they can confirm that this is the second person to have no traces of the virus in their blood count.

10. Sea Turtle populations are on the rise.

Back in 1973, out of concern that many of America's native plants and animals were in danger of extinction, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. And now, in 2019, it has been confirmed that Sea Turtle populations have risen a staggering 980 per cent.

11. Ducks have been replacing chemical pesticides.

Farmers from all over the world have been ditching the harmful pesticides in favor of ducks, who happily eat the pests on our crops. The waddling of the ducks through the mud also oxygenates the water and stirs up layers of soil, and their droppings act as a natural fertilizer. Who needs pesticides when you can have ducks?!

12. In Rome, train tickets can now be paid for with old plastic bottles.

In a bid to become more environmentally friendly, the Italian city of Rome have been offering free Metro tickets to passengers who bring in their old plastic bottles to be recycled. The initiative was launched in July and, so far, over 350,000 bottles have been recycled.

13. There are officially no more stray dogs in the Netherlands.

Holland has managed to clean up its streets of stray dogs... Without putting down any unwanted animals. They started by implementing the PSVIR method (pick, sterilize, vaccinate, identify, and return). All were free of charge; the government covered all the expenses. They also upped the taxes on the purchase of dogs in stores to encourage more people to rescue rather than buy.

14. Holland transformed bus stop rooves into makeshift homes for bees.

In more positive animal news from the Netherlands, Utrecht, a city in Holland, planted miniature ecosystems for the city's bees. Mainly made up of sedum plants, the shelters not only support the city’s biodiversity, but they also help capture fine dust and store rainwater.

15. Canada passed a bill that prevents whales, dolphins, and porpoises from being kept in captivity.

In June, a law that bans holding the marine animals in captivity or for breeding was passed by Canada’s parliament in a historic movement for animal rights. Under the new law, violations will be punishable with fines up to 200,000 Canadian dollars.

16. San Fransico created a club that unites both senior citizens and senior dogs.

The Cuddle Club was started by the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco as a way to ensure that older dogs get love and attention and that older and lonely citizens can get out of the house and get some exercise. The heartwarming incentive holds events where senior citizens gather in a room filled with dogs that are 7-years or older. As well as petting and playing with the dogs, visitors can also walk the elderly canines, getting them all out into the fresh air for exercise.

17. South Korea started organizing parties for citizens aged over sixty-five to tackle dementia and loneliness.

Disco parties for the elderly have proved to be a hit in the Korean capital, Seoul. The event is the first of its kind organized by the local government and aims to tackle loneliness and dementia in the rapidly aging country.

18. Iceland became the first country in the world to enforce equal pay for women and men.

Dating back to 1961, Icelandic women were still earning, on average, between fourteen percent and twenty percent less than men. But, this year, the country became the first to enforce equal pay regardless of gender - Does anyone fancy moving to Iceland?

19. California puts a ban on the sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores.

The new bill, which came into power in February, ensures that retail pet stores will only be allowed to sell animals that have come from rescue organizations, humane societies, or animal shelters.

20. A new robot has been rebuilding the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef has been in a devastating decline for the last decade, and two scientists may have come up with the answer to bring it back to life. Peter Harrison and Matthew Dunbabin recently teamed up for a world-first field experiment. A robot called Larvalbot carried coral larvae that Harrison had gathered and dispersed them on part of the Great Barrier Reef. The robot has the capacity to carry around 100,000 microscopic coral larvae per mission and is expected to scale up to millions.

21. A village in India plants 111 trees to celebrate the birth of every baby girl.

The village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India, have been partaking in this beautiful celebration since 2006, and they have gone on to plant over 350,000 trees every year ever since.

22. A German circus replaced live animals for a holographic and cruelty-free alternative.

Since 2018, Circus Roncalli has put a full ban on live animals featuring in their shows, and have instead turned to holographic projections with 360-degree visibility for spectators seated around the ring.

23. Finnish scientists developed a vaccine to fight off the "bee apocalypse."

In recent years, bee populations around the world have been dying off from a "colony collapse disorder." But the new vaccine, which was developed by a team at Helsinki University in Finland, works by giving bees resistance to fight off severe microbial diseases that can be fatal for pollinator communities, therefore giving them the immunity to survive.

24. South Korea's recycling levels spiked this year.

South Korea has long had an issue with food waste, with Koreans generating more than 130 kg of food waste each year. But, thanks to technological advances (automated bins equipped with scales and Radio Frequency Identification, to be precise), food waste in the city has been reduced by 47,000 tonnes in 6 years, according to city officials.

25. Sweden launched the world's first mental health ambulance.

After a staggering 1,500 suicides and 15,000 suicide attempts were reported in Sweden last year, the government in Stockholm decided to introduce the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PAM) to assist in emergency therapy. And, though the vehicles look like regular ambulances, they are drastically different inside. Rather than the usual bright lights, stretchers, and medical equipment, the vehicles are decked out with comfortable seats and warm, inviting lights, where a dedicated team listens to someone in need of counseling.

26. Thousands of people gathered to help save a 5-year-old boy who was battling a rare form of cancer.

5-year-old Oscar Saxelby-Lee, from the United Kingdom, caught the attention of thousands after a desperate plea from his parents. The child was in a race against time to find a life-saving stem cell donor after he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. And, remarkably, after his story circulated through the town, thousands of people queued to donate their stem cells. Over 4,800 donors lined up to get tested after his school opened their doors for a donor search. Volunteers sat for hours in 2 of the school’s halls, handing out swabs and completing donor registration forms.

27. Humpback whales are no longer on the brink of extinction.

There's hope for the whales, after all! In the 1950s, Humpback whales were reduced to the mere hundreds as a devastating result of whaling. But, thanks to years of conservation efforts, it was declared this year that their population numbers are now estimated to stand at 25,000.

28. African elephants can no longer be taken from the wild and sold to zoos and circuses.

In September, a near-total ban on taking baby African elephants from the wild and selling them to zoos has been approved at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Now, elephants can only be taken from the wild and placed in "captive facilities" elsewhere in the world under exceptional circumstances.

29. YouTube banned all white supremacist content.

The online streaming site, which gathers around 1.8 billion views every day, has put its foot down regarding discriminatory and hateful videos this year by enforcing a full ban on all white supremacist content, and also removing thousands of hate speech channels.

30. Peru is aiming to end deforestation by the end of 2021.

Working alongside the National Wildlife Federation, Peru have committed to ending all palm-oil driven deforestation by the end of 2021. This pledge, which proved to be a huge success in the neighboring country of Columbia, is a momentous movement in the fight against climate change.

31. The Netherlands built artificial islands to preserve wildlife.

9 kilometers into the Markermeer lake near Amsterdam, 5 artificial islands have been erected in an effort to preserve and look after the wildlife. Constructed from sucked-up and refashioned fine silt, clay, and shells, these innovative islands offer a haven for plants, birds and other wildlife. Since their birth, tens of thousands of birds and plants have been reintroduced.

32. A biodegradable plastic substitute was created from cactus juice.

Mexican scientists have discovered a way to turn cactus leaves into a biodegradable substitute to plastic. This remarkable alternative, which is comprised mainly of juiced leaves, shares very similar properties to regular plastic, but gradually begins to break itself down after being placed in soil for a month.

33. London are planting a 7-mile "bee corridor" in an attempt to boost their population numbers.

More good news for the bees! Twenty-two meadows have been sown throughout parks and green spaces in the British capital after a study showed that biodiversity levels had dropped massively since the 1980s.

34. Rescued Indian elephants were gifted with knitted jumpers to keep them warm in the winter.

Earlier this year, northern India experienced colder than usual weather conditions, and the residents at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center were feeling the chill. So, residents from a near-by village rallied together to knit the elephants, who had been rescued from lives of abuse, warm and snug jumpers.

35. Scientists successfully converted all blood types to the universal type O.

In groundbreaking medical news, researchers from the University of British Columbia this year worked out how to convert blood types A, B, and AB into the universal Type O, which all patients can receive in a transfusion, regardless of their own blood type. This will eventually save thousands of lives.

36. The U.K's carbon emissions have dropped for the 6th year in a row.

Since 1990, the U.K. has cut its emissions faster than any other major economy in the world. Hats off to the Brits!

37. The creator of Fortnite, Tim Sweeney, is saving thousands of acres of forests.

Since 2008, Sweeney has been spending millions on conservation projects in his home state of North Carolina to protect and preserve its forest land. And now, he has purchased nearly 40,000 acres, therefore protecting hundreds of endangered plant and animal species.

38. Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

In a tremendous victory for the LGBTQ community, Taiwan made history by becoming the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen had campaigned on marriage equality, and the bill was largely supported by her Democratic Progressive Party in parliament.

39. A study revealed that dogs can detect cancer using just their senses of smell.

Just when we thought dogs couldn't get any better, it has been discovered this year that they can detect cancer with incredible accuracy. The 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in April revealed that dogs’ highly evolved sense of smell could one day lead to cancer screening approaches that are less expensive and less invasive than existing methods.

40. More black men in America have made it into the middle and upper class than ever before.

Despite many issues with our country's racial divide still existing, more than one-half of black men have made it into the middle or upper class as adults, meaning that millions of black men are flourishing financially in America.

41. Renewable energy sources now account for a third of all global power capacity.

Efforts to combat the damage we've made to our planet seem to paying off, because it has been revealed that renewable energy sources now account for around a third of all global power capacity, according to new figures published by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

42. Ninety million Africans could be provided with electricity for the first time.

Sixty-four percent of the Sahel’s population – covering Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea – lives without electricity, which ultimately affects their healthcare, education, and overall way of life. But now, the African Development Bank (AfDB) have embarked on an ambitious solar project to make Africa a renewable power-house, develop and provide 10 GW of solar energy by 2025, and supply 250 million people with green electricity.

43. Seaweed was the answer to cutting cow's greenhouse gas emissions.

Who'd have thought it? Researchers in Australia started investigating after a dairy farmer noticed cows that grazed on washed-up seaweed along the shore were healthier and more productive than those in the field. And further research went on to indicate that a small number of marine algae added to cattle food significantly reduces methane emissions by as much as ninety-nine percent.

44. A woman won the prestigious Abel's Prize for the first time.

Mathematic's most prestigious prize, the Abel Prize, is awarded by the King of Norway to mathematicians who have greatly influenced their field and includes a cash award of 6 million Norwegian kroner (about $700,000). The award has always been dominated by men... Until now. Karen Uhlenbeck, a seventy-six-year-old mathematician and professor at the University of Texas, is known for her work with partial differential equations and has become the first woman to ever win the award.

45. The global suicide rate has dropped by thirty-eight percent.

As a result of the breakdown of mental health stigma and awareness, all over the world, suicide rates have been plummeting, and they show no sign of spiking back up anytime soon.

46. Blind women in Columbia have been detecting breast cancer.

A pioneering new breast cancer detection program in Colombia has been relying upon a small group of blind women to physically feel for cancerous lumps, a task that some doctors claim blind women excel at due to the heightened sensitivity of their fingertips.

47. The Amazon rainforest was saved from gold mining.

The Kofan people of the Ecuadorian Amazon won a legal battle this year to protect the headwaters of the Aguarico River, one of Ecuador’s largest and most important rivers, and to nullify fifty-two mining concessions that had been granted by the government, thus saving acres and acres of important land.

48. Parents in Nigeria are able to pay for their children's school fees by recycling their plastic.

An excellent scheme was installed in Lagos in Nigeria this year - Known as the Recycle Pay project, plastic waste acts as currency to allow parents to pay a portion of the fees. The project eases the financial burden of families in the community, allows kids to go to school, and reduces the problem of plastic waste.

49. The Galápagos iguanas return to their home island, 200 years after Charles Darwin first recorded their existence.

Officials from the Galápagos National Park announced that over 1,400 land iguanas had been released on Santiago island in the Galápagos Islands, , where a suitable ecosystem and abundance of food will make the species thrive.

And, most importantly...

Our planet is officially greener than it was twenty years ago! NASA announced the good news after getting detailed pictures of Earth's global vegetation through time, and it appears that China and India can take the majority of the credit. The two most populous countries have implemented ambitious tree planting programs and scaled up their implementation and technology around agriculture. And who said 2019 was all bad? Let's hope that 2020 will be even better!