Our world has never been in better shape or more prosperous. But you’d never know it by reading the news.
“A lot of people look at the news these days and think that the world is falling apart,”. Bill Gates says: “I have a different view. I think the world has never been better — more peaceful, prosperous, safe, or just. And I’m on a mission to prove it.” He goes on to explain, “Headlines, in a way, are what mislead you, because bad news is a headline, and gradual improvement is not.” Now there’s fake news.
Our New Year’s blog on how the world is getting radically better has become our most inspiring and favorite to research and produce. This tradition started four years ago with “A Dose of Reality: Our World is Dramatically Better“. The following year we reported “Despite Dire Headlines the World is Getting Much, Much Better“. Last year we added to our long and growing list of positive facts with “Beyond the Doom and Gloom: Over 65 Ways Our World Keeps Getting Better“.
Here’s just some of the latest evidence to add to what’s now almost 100 facts showing that our world is relentlessly and exponentially getting better and better and better:
- American carbon monoxide emissions from transport are down 75 per cent in twenty-five years.
- Over the last 200 years, the world’s GDP has skyrocketed 100-fold.
- In 2016, solar power grew faster than any other fuel source for the first time ever.
- In 2017, wind power became cheaper than nuclear in the UK, with the cost of subsidies slashed in half since 2015.
- America has more trees now than it did in 1920. The area consumed by wildfire each year has fallen by 90% as well, and populations of many wildlife species have dramatically increased as a result.
- Artificial meat production has huge, positive implications for food security and animal welfare.
- Harvard scientists have genetically altered a bacteria that turns CO2 emissions into biofuel.
- Plastic-eating caterpillars could help cut pollution.
- In 2016, there were fewer than 40 new cases of polio worldwide.
- There are now about 120 democracies among the world’s 193 countries, up from just 40 in 1972.
- Over the past 25 years, an average of 137,000 people were lifted out of extreme poverty each day.
- Today, the death rate from HIV is about 0.14 people per 1,000 in the population, down from a high of 0.30 in the early 2000s.
- The world has gone from eating 83 pounds of fruit a year in 1961 to 172 pounds in 2013, more than a 100% increase.
- Food scarcities are disappearing. In 1961, the average person consumed 2,200 calories a day. By 2013, the number had risen to 2,900 a day.
- Since 1800, the population of the world has multiplied six times, yet average life expectancy has more than doubled and real income has risen more than nine times.
- Today, of Americans officially designated as ‘poor’, 99 per cent have electricity, running water, flush toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 per cent have a television, 88 per cent a telephone, 71 per cent a car and 70 per cent air conditioning. Cornelius Vanderbilt had none of these.
- Deaths from stroke fell by 70 per cent between 1950 and 2000 in America and Europe.
- An hour of work today earns you 300 days’ worth of reading light; an hour of work in 1800 earned you ten minutes of reading light.
- A three-minute phone call from New York to Los Angeles cost ninety hours of work at the average wage in 1910; today it costs less than two minutes.
- The price of computing power fell so fast in the last quarter of the twentieth century that the capacity of a tiny pocket calculator in 2000 would have cost you a lifetime’s wages in 1975.
- In 1900, the average American spent $76 of every $100 on food, clothing and shelter. Today he spends $37.
- The warfare death rate of 0.5 per cent of the population per year that was typical of many hunter-gatherer societies would equate to two billion people dying during the twentieth century (instead of 100 million).
- Millennials are putting their money in sustainable investments at a rate that’s 2x higher than average.
How’s your glass? Is it half full or half empty? We can focus on what we have and enjoy it. Or we can focus on what we don’t have and be miserable.
Resolve to face the facts this year. Life is very good and rapidly getting even better.
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