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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

With a number of natural disasters raging across the country this year, and political discourse at its peak, it's important to remember that there is good news out there.

The bottom line: Americans are pulling together, every day, to help one another; there are medical advances that will help millions, and not even D.C. is that bad all the time. But, much of the good news never makes headlines.

1. The kids are alright

Teen birth rates hit a new low in 2016, dropping 9% since 2015 and 67% since 1991. And Washington University found that teens aren't abusing alcohol or drugs, or engaging in "delinquent behavior" as much as they used to.

2. We're more environmentally friendly

Boston has joined other cities in banning single-use plastic bags. St. Louis committed to a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035 — it currently gets only 5% of its energy from renewable sources.

3. Technology is making a difference

Tesla restored electricity to a children's hospital in Puerto Rico after it was hit by hurricanes in September, and a North Carolina police department used a drone to find a missing 81-year-old woman with dementia within 25 minutes of her disappearance.

4. Medical advances are helping millions

The FDA cleared an earpiece that may help block symptoms of opioid withdrawal. And Portal Instruments, a private medical device company licensed from MIT, has made a needle-free drug injection device.

5. The economy is booming

13 states saw record-lows of unemployment this year; nationally, the unemployment level is at the lowest it has been since 2000. And financial satisfaction hit a 24-year high this year.

6. We're becoming more tolerant

Support for allowing same-sex marriage is at its highest point in 20 years, according to a Pew Research survey. For the first time, a majority of Baby Boomers (56%) favor allowing same-sex marriage, and almost the same amount of Republicans favor allowing it (47%) as opposing it (48%).

7. Space exploration

Vice President Mike Pence said in October that the U.S. "will return...to the moon not only to leave behind footprints and flags but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond." In September, NASA's Cassini spacecraft ended its journey after bringing us some incredible findings.

8. Neighbors are looking out for one another

A man in North Carolina has started the non-profit ChemoCars, a service that provides cancer patients with free rides to and from their chemo treatments. More than 6,000 Texas inmates decided to donate $53,863 of their commissary funds to Hurricane Harvey victims. And, a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $11 million for the victims of the horrific Las Vegas shooting in October that left 58 people dead, and hundreds injured.

9. American philanthropy is reaching beyond our borders

Uber partnered with the charity Whizz-Kidz to give those who use wheelchairs in the UK free rides to polling places this summer. And The Carter Center, run by former President Jimmy Carter, announced in October that it helped eliminate the disfiguring tropical disease elephantiasis from two states in Nigeria, where it was the most prevalent.

Editor's Note: Sign up for Axios newsletters to get our smart brevity delivered to your inbox every morning.

Go deeper

Companies turn to pay hikes to lure workers

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More hourly workers are getting a pay bump. Thank the new war for employees.

Why it matters: To meet the demand that's only expected to get more ferocious as reopening continues, companies are having to bid up to attract workers.

Latino mental health crisis grows

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Over 40% of Latino adults have reported symptoms of depression during the pandemic, in contrast to 25% of white non-Hispanics, the CDC reports.

Why it matters: The emotional distress is especially acute for Latinos who had COVID-19, some of them tell Noticias Telemundo.

Misinformation is just one part of a vaccine trust problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the first major pandemic in the social media era — offering experts a rare opening to study the relationship between online misinformation and human behavior on a large scale.

Why it matters: As misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines runs rampant, researchers are trying to measure how much memes and messages with false information can alter someone's decision to get vaccinated.