Mihaela Manova

By: Mihaela Manova

To begin the year of 2020 with a fresh mindset, we cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of forgetting the world’s most groundbreaking stories in 2019.Throughout last year,  many headlines have come and gone, but the ones that have made people feel have been drastically forgotten by the media and by us, the viewers. So, what has happened to the most important headlines of 2019?

 

What happened to the Amazon Rainforest? 

By googling the question “Is the Amazon Rainforest still on fire?” many posts mentioning the 2019 mass deforestation appear. The last post of any in-depth news article on behalf of the Amazon Rainforest was made October 18, 2019 by USA Today. The article provided a summary of the entire tragedy, when it began and the actions toward stopping it, but no updates on how the rainforest is doing now. The silence surrounding all of the media outlets makes people infer many different outcomes to the tragedy. But is that the best way to know if a tragedy has been helped? 

“A labourer stares at a fire that spread to the farm he work on next to a highway in Nova Santa Helena municipality in northern Mato Grosso State, south in the Amazon basin in Brazil, on August 23, 2019. – Official figures show 78,383 forest fires have been recorded in Brazil this year, the highest number of any year since 2013. Experts say the clearing of land during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has aggravated the problem. More than half of the fires are in the Amazon.” – The Atlantic 2019 (Photo by Joao LAET / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOAO LAET/AFP/Getty Images)

The Rainforest Alliance is an organization that redirected 100% of their donations to helping out the rainforest. From their websites “impact dashboard” they have collected over $190,000,000 through their initiatives. Others like G7 (world’s seven largest economies) have come up with $22 million while global warming activists like Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $5 million in restoration. The Warner Music Group and One Tree Planted collaboration ended up with 100,000 trees planted in help for the salvation of the Amazon Rainforest. More likely, in 2020 the rainforest will be starting to get rebuilt, and even though it will take time for the trees to grow in that region, this region won’t be left to be forgotten by the many organizations that have dedicated their time for this cause.  

The Brazilian wildfires in a more geographical perspective. Source: MAAP

What about the crisis in Sudan? 

The crisis in Sudan was one of the most talked about movements on social media during the summer in 2019. With over thousands of posts with the hashtag #Sudan or #HelpSudan, many people were witnesses to a war driven country and the aftermath to all of the fleeing families. One of the most reposted images reads, “There is a massacre happening in Sudan right now and the world is silent. The world is silent and this breaks my heart.” According to Refinery21 in June, “People in the Western world are finally sitting up and taking note of the political chaos in Sudan, which reached new levels of severity this week.”

Following that statement, Refinery21 reports that there were more than 100 killings and 70 rapes during a single attack in the countries capital Khartoum as well as “bloated bodies” being dragged from the Nile river. 

(Source: Instagram) Images from artists across Instagram were spread to advocate for solidarity and awareness for Sudan due to some media outlets being silent.

The root of the problem was a conflict “between pro-democracy civilians and the country’s security forces.” On December 28, 2019, VOA News reports that the Sudanese government and the nine rebel groups signed an agreement on beginning to end the bloody conflict in the Darfur region. They are looking forward to making a lasting peace in the region and as well as that there is “fresh hope for peace after Sudan’s transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, (who) made peace in these areas a priority.”

A look into how Instagram looked like in June 2019. Many users were supporting the cause by setting their profile photos to this signature blue color. (Source: The Atlantic)

Organizations like Unicef were devoted and led campaigns to receive money for aiding the country’s children in vaccinations, clothes, food, and shelter. While the crisis was going on, Instagram users put their profile picture images in dark blue to advocate for the crisis in Sudan and to give attention to others who may browse and question the high numbers of dark blue profiles until they saw the movement for themselves.  

 

What happened to the CRISPR scientists?

Back in late 2018, new information was revealed about genetically modified baby embryos in resisting infection from the AIDS virus. Around sixteen scientists pioneered the research and one of them claimed to help make the first genetically modified babies. His name was He Jiankui. In 2019, his disappearance has sparked many questions into what has happened to this particular scientist. According to Science Alert’s article, they said that “He has not been seen publicly since January, his work has not been published and nothing is known about the health of the babies.” 

 

In Science Alert’s article, they stated about all that is known in this situation. They began with his last appearance which was on the balcony of an apartment at his university. (The university that he worked in actually fired him after his work was known). Armed guards supposedly took He away and was no longer seen, but a lot of mystery surrounds this case because of the quietness of his family, coworkers, and even media relations person. Science Alert also mentions that the Chinese investigation confirmed the existence of the twin girls whose DNA He altered. 

News outlets are continuing with their talk about CRISPR but no other updates have been made on He Jiankui. (Source: REUTERS)

The twins and the other people involved in the second pregnancy were monitored by the Chinese government’s health departments. From the second pregnancy there was a third child, who is also monitored but no information has been given out about it. One of the reasons why the case was seriously broken down was that CRISPR gene alterations are actually made to be passed down in generations contrary to other genetic modifications.

 

As 2019 showed us many different headlines that made us feel, think, and observe, we need to take a step back from the constant overflow of new information. As the media’s job is to provide relevant topics and not to dwell on things that have already passed, the problem is that the tragedies get discarded in the back of the viewers’ brains until the next one comes along. In the end, the media and the viewers need to work together to update and resolve these issues, because when we hear about new calamities every single day it only makes us portray the world as 100% worse than the reality.

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