"Hey, 2016. Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"
It's been one of those years. From nasty politics to heartbreaking celebrity deaths, terrorism to health scares, it's tough to look back on the past 12 months and find positive news — but good news is there, we swear.
Here's a look at a whole bunch of positive things that happened in 2016, and there are plenty more.
1. The giant panda, the long-time symbol of the conservation movement, was taken off the endangered species list. Among the world's most threatened animals, the iconic black-and-white bear has been reclassified as "vulnerable," thanks in part to an increase in habitat in China.
2. For the first time in 100 years, tiger numbers are also on the rise, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Around 3,890 tigers are now in the wild, up from 3,200 in 2010.
3. An international agreement ended all legal trade of pangolins, the world's most trafficked animal. These slow-moving nocturnal mammals are hunted for their scales, which are used in Chinese medicine, and their meat, which is considered a delicacy.
Activists celebrate with fireworks at Oceti Sakowin Camp in early December after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
4. The National Park Service turned 100 on Aug. 25, celebrating all 413 parks, battlefields, historic sites, monuments, preserves, parkways and reserves. Park service lands cover more than 84 million acres and are represented in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
5. Protesters and members of North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux tribe celebrated in early December as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it wouldn't allow sections of an oil pipeline to be drilled under the Missouri River on tribal lands. The Army says it will look for alternate routes for the Dakota Access pipeline, which demonstrators said threatened to disturb sacred lands and contaminate the water supply.
6. Clean energy made serious advances in 2016. MIT Technology Review sums it up: "The Paris Climate accords went into effect, the price of solar installations continued to drop, investments in renewable energy soared, offshore wind finally got under way in the United States, and scientists made a series of technical advances that promise to make sustainable energy increasingly efficient and affordable."
7. The Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral in 2014 was much more than a stunt — it did some serious good. The campaign raised more than $115 million for the ALS Association to help research amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This year, those funds helped scientists identify a new gene, NEK1, which is one of the most common genes that contributes to the disease. The significant discovery could be a step towards treatment.
8. An experimental Ebola vaccine was developed and in tests was found to be 100 percent effective against the devastating virus, reports CNN. Although the disease has been documented for more than 40 years, Ebola is most known for ravaging West Africa in 2014, killing more than 11,000 people. In early trials in Guinea, the World Health Organization called the vaccine "highly effective," saying it could be an important tool in managing current and future outbreaks of the disease.
9. Measles was eradicated from the Americas in 2016, the WHO announced in September. That makes North America, Central America and South America the first regions in the world without any endemic cases of what was once considered one of the world's most infectious diseases. (Keep in mind that eradication doesn't mean there are no cases at all; it means the disease has not been constantly present, or endemic, in a given area for at least 12 months. Cases can still pop up if they originate from another area.)
Karen Klein with son Isaac and husband Eric. Karen took off in a blizzard in hopes of rescuing her family — and she did. (Photo: Karen Klein/Facebook)
10. Determined mom Karen Klein walked 26 miles in the snow to save her family during a blizzard.
11. An injured teen went to work at his fast-food job in a neck brace and an arm sling because he wanted to make money to feed the homeless for Christmas.
12. This boy asked his mom to pack him two lunches for school to bring one to a schoolmate who had none.
13. A Virginia woman plans to feed 30,000 people by her 30th birthday next September — with a little help from a lot of coupons. So happy birthday to her!