Like baseball’s opening day and that moment when you accept a jar of sourdough starter from a friend, the dawn of a new year is a time for hope and wide-eyed optimism. And despite the headlines, lots of encouraging news is out there if we just bother to look for it.
So, as we look ahead to 2022, I choose to believe things are pretty good … and poised to get a lot better.
I know, I know, it’s an election year, so we’ll be tortured with mind-numbing campaign rhetoric and inevitable disappointment, but let’s set that aside for the moment and focus on reality.
Since omicron is top of mind these days, let’s start with the good news about the variant and the persistent pandemic.
Nearly 70% of eligible Coloradans are fully immunized for COVID; the state is awash in available, safe, effective, free vaccines for people who still want them; and the risk of serious illness or death among the vaccinated is very low despite the high infection rate for the omicron.
A year ago, when we were huddled around firepits so we could be with our friends or alone inside watching “Ted Lasso,” we could only dream of the luxury of vaccine. Now it’s a reality available at churches, sports stadiums or the pharmacy in the grocery store, for Pete’s sake.
Thank you, Donald Trump and Big Pharma. (I can’t believe I just said that.)
In other news, the unemployment rate in Colorado has continued to decline faster than the national rate and the state’s economy has rebounded so robustly, taxpayers are expected to see refunds and lower income tax rates less than two years after the COVID lockdowns shuttered restaurants and brought the world economy to an abrupt standstill.
I bet you didn’t see any of that coming.
Plus, the legislature is still sitting on $2.6 billion in unspent federal pandemic relief money. This is huge because it may be used to finance significant steps toward addressing the lack of affordable housing and the increasingly desperate need for behavioral health care — or any number of other serious problems across the state.
Electric vehicles, Colorado’s best way to address stubborn air quality problems and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are a rapidly growing portion of the autos and trucks on the state’s roads as car-buyers warm up to the new technology and UPS and Amazon begin the transition to plug-in trucks and vans in their delivery fleets.
And in a deal with truck-maker Rivian, level-two charging stations are being installed in all 42 of the state’s parks. That means you don’t have to be in an urban area to charge your car, so get over your range anxiety and join the 21st century before insurance companies start airing ads about how dorky you are.
Meanwhile, just as things were starting to look bleak for the ski season (and, well, the ecosystem), a series of storms dumped gobs of gorgeous powder over the Western Slope just in time for the holiday tourist crush. The snowpack miraculously is hovering right around the median levels for this time of year after an autumn that featured freakishly high temperatures and low precipitation numbers.
So, get out and enjoy it. It’s why you live here, after all.
One of the coolest things this year is unfolding, literally, in outer space.
The result of almost science-fiction technology, the James Webb Space Telescope, which was designed in part by Ball Aerospace in Colorado, began its million-mile journey into the cosmos after a successful launch from French Guiana on Christmas.
Astronomers around the world watched excitedly as the mission was executed successfully. They say they can only imagine what information might be revealed when the Webb ventures beyond the sun to see 13.7 billion-year-old stars and galaxies that were left behind in the trail of the Big Bang.
It will be six months or more before the telescope is in position and sending data to Earth, but after eons of wonder and speculation among scientists, the time until new information about the universe is finally transmitted will seem like a nanosecond.
And for all those who learned to love quiet nights on the sofa during COVID isolation, have we got a lineup for you in 2022.
We’ll see the return of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; an epic production of Min Jin Lee’s wonderful novel, “Pachinko”; and the streaming release of “The Tender Bar” by former Rocky Mountain News reporter J.R. Moehringer.
So, c’mon people. Quit picking fights on airplanes and whining about how hard it is to buy a Peloton because of supply chain problems. Look at the bright side.
Life is good.
Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.