It’s safe to say we all introduced 2021 with open arms (or a bit of skepticism) after the stressful and tumultuous year of 2020. With worldwide COVID vaccine access and pop culture moments bringing us together, 2021 certainly felt more hopeful compared to previous years.
Now with 2022 coming in hot, it’s time to look back at the best and most encouraging moments of 2021. From hilarious memes to more clean energy use, it’s definitely a memorable year for the books!
Civilian space travel felt closer to being possible
For the longest time space travel seemed exclusive to only NASA astronauts. But this summer billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson both flew into space. Even though both trips were short-lived and outrageously expensive, it’s a hopeful beginning to normalizing space travel to civilians in the future. Although if you want to reserve your seat you’ll probably have to pay a pretty penny!
America took home the gold
During the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the United States took home the most overall medals with a total of 39 gold medals – just one more from runner-up China claiming 38. Some notable triumphs included the USA's first gold in women’s track cycling and women’s indoor volleyball. Thanks to America’s poster child Simone Biles, the nation also remembered the importance of mental health and assessing the strict pressures placed on athletes.
Netflix made jaws drop with Squid Game
Back in September it felt like the whole world was sitting down every night to watch the disturbing plot of Squid Game unfold. Similar to the 2020 spectacle Tiger King, Squid Game took center stage as Netflix’s biggest 2021 hit. It was also the first Korean drama to ever make it on Netflix’s top 10 weekly most-watched list. Even though the storyline is bleak, at least it united us all through Halloween costumes, watch parties, and reenactments of the red light, green light game.
Over 3.6 billion people got COVID vaccinations
Billions of COVID-19 vaccinations have been distributed worldwide and over 60% of the United States population is now fully vaccinated. The rise in protection meant travel bans were uplifted and businesses and social life witnessed a little more normalcy. Although the vaccine is by no means completely foolproof, there has been a drastic decline in COVID hospitalizations from those who are fully vaccinated.
Renewable and sustainable energy use made big strides
Cleaner energy sources are becoming more embraced as electric car (and even truck) sales increase. In 2021, electric cars outsold diesel cars for the first time in Europe. The International Energy Agency announced more renewable energy was produced in 2021 than ever before in history. And to top it all off, United Airlines flew the world’s first 100% sustainable non-petroleum based fuel jet plane with 100 passengers from Chicago to DC in December.