2020 Nearly Breaks Global Temperature Records
In addition to a raging pandemic, struggles for racial justice, and a tense election, 2020 almost tied 2016 for the hottest year on record. Coming in 0.02 degrees cooler than the hottest year ever, 2020 is technically worse than its contender. 2016 was boosted to the top by El Nino, a natural phenomenon that causes periodic warming in South American waters. 2020 had no such excuse, and the results were clear: the West coast suffered disastrous wildfires and the East coast endured a record-setting hurricane season; monsoons flooded Southeast Asia, and thousands of people lost their homes or loved ones.
In 2019, the Trump Administration formally withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord and repealed many Obama-era environmental regulations curbing major carbon emissions—a factor attributed to the rising temperatures. 2016 and 2020 are not isolated events—the entire decade was the hottest on record.
2021 Celebrations are Subdued
Unfortunately, this new year will not bring the clean slate we all wanted. COVID-19 is still as prominent as ever, and global issues in politics and foreign affairs have not disappeared. Yet, cities around the world still wanted to ring in 2021 (safely) to celebrate.
In New York, the ball still dropped, but with a much smaller audience. Around the block, restaurants and hotels were booked so people could still get a glimpse of the descent. A few honorary individuals were allowed in the streets, but Times Square was otherwise completely blocked off. Many cities including London and Sydney continued traditions of setting off fireworks or having light shows, although people had to observe from their homes.
These events may have been smaller, but the spirit of the New Year still prevailed and joy rang at midnight around the globe. We hope for a healthy and happy 2021.
Congress Battles over Stimulus Checks
On New Year's Day, the Senate concluded a session rejecting Donald Trump’s appeal for $2,000 Covid-aid checks. Even as Democrats pushed for this House-passed bill that would raise the already $600 Covid-aid checks to $2,000, Republicans strongly blocked it. Although Trump is in favor of this bill, many of his party including Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell believe that Congress has already given enough to the public in terms of Covid-relief and fear that people who are not struggling would benefit too much from the aid. Along with this, they overrode Trump's veto for a sweeping defense bill. As the days of the Trump presidency come to an end, his party has shown the ability to go against him. Although additional aid is tabled for now, Democrats promised to bring back the plan after a new Congress is sworn in. In the meantime, Trump took to Twitter to express his disappointment that the bill was not passed, calling GOP leadership “Pathetic!!!”