Reasons to feel better about the year that was
December 30, 2017 10:13 AM   Subscribe

When they say (9) abortion rates have dropped, is that because it's now harder to get an abortion?
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:27 AM on December 30 [42 favorites]

I do feel better.

posted by kyrademon at 10:32 AM on December 30 [3 favorites]

I wondered the same thing, Obscure Reference. The linked Vox article about lower abortion rates seems to be saying that while some states may have a lower rate because of reduced access, there's a larger scale overall drop that is not explained by restriction so it's mostly better use of birth control.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:34 AM on December 30 [7 favorites]

My company still does a tiny bit of it's business in fossil fuels but there's a lot of excitement from younger engineers about things like designing for solar, wind and also for water recycling technologies. I'm hoping we eventually drop out of fossil fuels altogether.
posted by emjaybee at 10:49 AM on December 30 [3 favorites]

[Folks, gonna suggest that we not do the thing that is sometimes tempting, of filling this thread with bad-news, rebuttals, etc. The badness of 2017 is very very well-documented on this site, nobody's laboring under illusions; let folks who are so-inclined have a positive thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:01 AM on December 30 [56 favorites]

It’s ok to acknowledge good in the world, even (especially?) in the midst of troubled times—it’s actually how I make a conscious effort to stay grounded and healthy. Thanks for posting this!
posted by bookmammal at 11:08 AM on December 30 [12 favorites]

Most of the news I got from this year was just incoherent screaming so I missed just about all of these stories. I'm particularly heartened by the info that snow leopards are no longer endangered and their wild population is over 10,000, I'd thought their situation was much more dire!
posted by Feyala at 11:12 AM on December 30 [5 favorites]

The Vox abortion-rate article that's linked is from Jan. 2017? IUD use is certainly a factor in reduced rates.
Great news about fossil fuels, and the hole in the ozone layer! Thanks for this post.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:15 AM on December 30

The dementia reduction in the UK is very interesting! From the BMJ article:

Several plausible explanations support a decline in dementia incidence over time. Improvement in vascular risk factors, as well as in education levels, can partly account for the decline in incidence. In the present study, increased physical activity accounted for the largest proportion of the decline in dementia incidence between 2002 and 2013. Changes in prevalence of diabetes, smoking, and social class over time had negative confounding effects, such that the downward incidence trend increased after controlling for respective changes. Adjustment for stroke and depression did not have a considerable effect on the calendar trend in dementia.

posted by stillmoving at 11:31 AM on December 30

IUD use is certainly a factor in reduced rates.

That IUD article points to a 900% spike in placements as a response to a Trump presidency. I have to say, that weighed heavily into my choice to get one. Between fear over access to abortion and birth control, but also fear of losing the covered access provided under the ACA, it was an easy choice.

Along with deciding to keep plan B on hand, should it become outlawed, or heavily restricted. and myself or other women need access.

2017 is also the year I set up a reoccurring donation to Planned Parenthood. It’s not a lot, and I’ve hit some financially unstable times, considered stopping my donation, and then decided no, not to Planned Parenthood. Not Now.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:43 AM on December 30 [14 favorites]

2017 is also the year I set up a reoccurring donation to Planned Parenthood.

Me too. It's a tiny little monthly donation but if everyone makes a tiny little donation, etc ... I also set up one for the ACLU.
posted by bunderful at 12:01 PM on December 30 [2 favorites]


30. In 2017, the ozone hole shrunk to its smallest size since 1988, the year Bobby McFerrin topped the charts with ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy.’ CNET

I was there in '88 and that song made neither unworried nor happy. In fact, I think there may still be a warrant out ...
posted by philip-random at 12:04 PM on December 30

That lovely long list of CO2 reduction victories was a welcome ray of hope for me among all this year's doom and gloom, not least because it reminded me that tipping points can work in your favor. With changing attitudes, and pressure placed on governments and corporations by citizens, it is entirely possible we may at some point soon see sudden and dramatic declines in emissions. Collective cultural attitudes do change, sometimes quite suddenly, and it is very nice indeed to be reminded they can be a force for good.

My inner cynic says no, but right now I think I'll savor that tiny bit of hope. With the way 2017 has unfolded, I sure can use it.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:22 PM on December 30 [4 favorites]

The energy/climate section was eye-opening. In the US, we've spent the last year fighting with minimal leverage against people who want to go backwards. It was nice to see that other places are moving forward and some in very impressive fashion.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 12:24 PM on December 30 [6 favorites]

After quintupling between 1974 and 2007, the imprisonment rate in the United States is now dropping in a majority of states.

GOOD. That is wonderful news.
posted by XtinaS at 12:41 PM on December 30 [7 favorites]

I was prepared to have this be so weak that it would deepen my cynicism, but instead I actually was heartened.
posted by salvia at 12:42 PM on December 30 [9 favorites]

The Energy East pipeline closure (#48) was about two things: Canada insisting that the carbon-foot print of the endusers of the fuel be included in the environmental assessment of the pipeline and secondly, the approval of the south-going Keystone XL. The first would have made clearing the EA process much more difficult and costly. There was no sure thing at all this would have been approved under those terms.

The second, though, was fatal. With Keystone XL, there was no anticipated capacity needed from Energy East. That made it completely unreasonable to build. Assuming XL goes ahead, I doubt EE will ever be revisited.
posted by bonehead at 12:55 PM on December 30

I was there in '88 and that song made neither unworried nor happy.

Always with the negative waves, philip-random, always with the negative waves.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:55 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]

From that same NYT article about leprosy being easily treatable and that it's dropped by 97% since 1985, there's a gem of hope that really should've been a headline:

"For most of history, probably more than 90 percent of the world population lived in extreme poverty, plunging to fewer than 10 percent today."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:14 PM on December 30 [7 favorites]

Good one!
posted by Glinn at 3:17 PM on December 30

Like salvia, I was prepared for this to be weak. Usually these 'Reasons to feel better' compendiums are full of 'lost pets found' stories, but this really was full of good news! It's especially heartening to hear about China and India getting serious about environmental issues.
posted by maggiemaggie at 3:59 PM on December 30 [5 favorites]

This is the best year-end round-up I've ever read. I don't think I'll even look at another one until 2018, I'm good with this one.
posted by johnxlibris at 5:49 PM on December 30

Thank you for this. Truly.
posted by cyndigo at 8:42 PM on December 30

After quintupling between 1974 and 2007, the imprisonment rate in the United States is now dropping in a majority of states.

XtinaS: GOOD. That is wonderful news.

The mod note makes it impossible to raise legit questions about these statistics, and I think there's a larger discussion to be had on this point. Frustrating.

(And yes, I did RTFA as well as TFA from TNYT regarding this topic.)
posted by tzikeh at 8:52 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]

I think there's room for another FPP on the matter of incarceration trends, though I myself wouldn't have anything productive to add there. I posted this mostly because in the aggregate I think people need concrete evidence of positive events to help with self-care, especially here.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:03 PM on December 30 [2 favorites]

And Richard Spencer was punched in the face. Let's not forget that small ray of sunshine from 2017.
posted by edgybelle27 at 12:36 AM on December 31 [11 favorites]

Very good round up.
I'm glad to see the violence ticking down data. We normally hear the opposite, thanks to US tv "news".
posted by doctornemo at 7:25 AM on December 31

If you were inspired by the stories about improving public health and want to be part of the fight against neglected tropical diseases, consider donating to one of GiveWell's top charities. (At this writing, people of the Western hemisphere have a few of hours until the tax deadline).
posted by officer_fred at 10:30 AM on December 31

Everyone seems to have forgotten about it already but that eclipse was cool as hell.
posted by theodolite at 10:54 AM on December 31 [7 favorites]

Looks like Holden is still on the board of Givewell.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:35 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]

Good to know :) I like this year, I was good for me too, I hope so will be 2018.
posted by elmerhoff at 1:59 PM on January 5

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