It’s a year most of us will never forget, so let’s take a look back at some of the highlights and lowlights of this extraordinary period in time.
The events of 2020 brought new challenges for everyone, changing the way we live and connect with one another – perhaps forever. The COVID-19 pandemic had severe economic and social consequences, we faced new challenges – and some wins – with the climate change crisis, and faced transformative and contentious moments in politics.
In January 2020, the first cases of coronavirus were recorded in the US, although the severity of the impending pandemic was not realised until a month or so later. As the world went into lockdown and humans retreated indoors, some positive effects started to occur on our planet.
Global emissions fell by around 25 per cent in a four-week period in China, pollution levels reduced dramatically in India, making the Himalayas visible for the first time in decades. In the absence of human life, animals began roaming more freely, with macaques taking over the streets in Thailand and sea turtles making a comeback on now-deserted beaches. Canals cleared up in Venice, with jellyfish seen swimming in the waters.
In April we celebrated Earth Day, and the theme for 2020 was climate action. While many events were cancelled, we found ways to create action and help our planet, even in isolation.
Throughout the year, our work and home life changed, with many people living simply, experimenting with home cooking and baking, and forging the daily commute to work from home. Many companies have now decided the allow their employees to work remotely even after the pandemic ends.
Travel was a no-go for the majority of us this year, with state and international borders shutting down worldwide. As some countries cautiously reopened for domestic travel only, exploring our own backyards took the place of overseas holidays. And subsequently, aircraft emissions dropped dramatically.
In the latter months of the year, COVID-19 vaccines were developed with countries across the world planning to vaccinate millions of vulnerable adults and frontline healthcare workers, with hopes that we may see an end to the pandemic.
If 2020 was a year of slowing down, retreating and getting back to basics, then 2021 is an opportunity to re-evaluate our lives – an opportunity to rebuild and re-examine how we treat each other and the planet, and work out what is important to us in order to create a more positive, hopeful and sustainable future.