Matt Ridley: Reasons to Be Cheerful
We a prone to fixate on problems and threats. The news concentrates on Ebola, violence in the Middle East and Ukraine, and the discord in Ferguson, Missouri. But it is important to keep present challenges (and they are more decidedly real) in context. Matt Ridley offers twelve reasons to be cheerful when we look at broader trends.
So let’s tot up instead what is going, and could go, right. Actually it is a pretty long list, just not a very newsworthy one. Compared with any time in the past half century, the world as a whole is today wealthier, healthier, happier, cleverer, cleaner, kinder, freer, safer, more peaceful and more equal.
1. The average person on the planet earns roughly three times as much as he or she did 50 years ago, corrected for inflation. If anything, this understates the improvement in living standards ...
2. The average person lives about a third longer than 50 years ago and buries two thirds fewer of his or her children (and child mortality is the greatest measure of misery I can think of).
3. The amount of food available per head has gone up steadily on every continent, despite a doubling of the population. Famine is now very rare.
4. The death rate from malaria is down by nearly 30 per cent since the start of the century. HIV-related deaths are falling. Polio, measles, yellow fever, diphtheria, cholera, typhoid, typhus — they killed our ancestors in droves, but they are now rare diseases.
5. We tell ourselves we are miserable, but it is not true. ...
6. ducation is in a mess and everybody’s cross about it, but consider: far more people go to school and stay there longer than they did 50 years ago.
7. The air is much cleaner than when I was young, with smog largely banished from our cities. Rivers are cleaner and teem with otters and kingfishers. ... Forest cover is increasing in many countries and the pressure on land to grow food has begun to ease.
8. We give more of our earnings to charity than our grandparents did.
9. Violent crimes of almost all kinds are on the decline — murder, rape, theft, domestic violence.
10. Despite all the illiberal things our governments still try to do to us, freedom is on the march.
11. The weather is not getting worse. Despite what you may have read, there is no global increase in floods, cyclones, tornadoes, blizzards and wild fires — and there has been a decline in the severity of droughts. ... there has been a steep decline in deaths due to extreme weather.
12. As for inequality, the world as a whole is getting rapidly more equal in income, because people in poor countries are getting richer at a more rapid pace than people in rich countries. ...
Let us by all means address the problems at hand but let us also tap down the tendency to see only the negative and give in to gloom and despair.