World has never had it so good

Some like to focus on how awful they think the world is, and that humanity is so flawed that everything is getting worse – conflicts, poverty, the environment etc. But in fact it is the opposite.

Allister Heath writes at The Telegraph:

Contrary to what environmentalists, anti-globalisation campaigners and other economic curmudgeons like to think, the world is not going to hell in a handbasket. …

But humanity as a whole is doing better than it ever has: the world is becoming more prosperous, cleaner, increasingly peaceful and healthier. We are living longer, better lives. Virtually all of our existing problems are less bad than at any previous time in history.

Some examples:

Genghis Khan’s mad conquests in the 13th century killed 11pc of the global population at the time, making it the worst conflict the world has ever had the misfortune of enduring; the Second World War, which cost more lives than any other, was the sixth worst on that measure, killing 2.6pc of the world’s population.

There has been immense progress since then, especially following the end of the Cold War.

The Peace Research Institute Oslo calculates that there were fewer battle deaths (including of civilians) in the first decade of the 21st century than at any time since the Second World War.

To be fair to Genghis, around one in 200 people alive today are thought to be descended from him so he helped repopulate the world also! But there was an upside to Genghis killing 40 million people:

The Mongol leader, who established a vast empire between the 13th and 14th centuries, helped remove nearly 700million tons of carbon from the atmosphere, claims a new study.

The deaths of 40million people meant that large areas of cultivated land grew thick once again with trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

And, although his methods may be difficult for environmentalists to accept, ecologists believe it may be the first ever case of successful manmade global cooling. 

Luckily in NZ, it is only cows that the Green Party wants to slaughter!

Instead of fighting, we now trade, communicate, travel and invest; while there is still a long way to go in tearing down protectionist barriers, international economic integration is the great driving force of progress.

Trade is much more preferable to war.

We are also far less likely to die from the side-effects of economic development and the burning of cooking and heating fuels. In 1900, one person in 550 globally would die from air pollution every year, an annual risk of dying of 0.18pc. Today, that risk has fallen to 0.04 pc, or one in 2,500; by 2050, it is expected to have collapsed to 0.02pc, or one in 5,000. Many other kinds of pollution are also in decline, of course, but shift is the most powerful.

In fact, we are living healthier and longer lives all round, thanks primarily to the remarkable progress made by medicine.

Average life expectancy at birth in Africa has jumped from 50 years in 2000 to 56 in 2011; for the world as a whole, it has increased from 64 to 70, according to the World Organisation.

While people in rich countries can now expect to reach 80, the gap is narrowing and emerging economies are catching up; in India, for example, life expectancy has been increasing by 4.5 years per decade since the 1960s.

That’s what you call closing the gap.

The probability of a newborn dying before their fifth birthday has dropped from a world average of 23pc in the 1950s to 6pc in the current decade.

Still too high, but a massive drop.

While 23.6pc of the world’s population remains illiterate, that is down from 70pc in 1900 and is the lowest it has ever been. The costs of illiteracy have fallen steadily from 12.3pc of global GDP at the start of last century and are set to be just 3.8pc by 2050.

Gender equality is also improving. In 1900, women made up only 15pc of the global workforce. By 2012, it reached around 40pc and is expected to hit 45pc by mid-century.

What a waste of potential it was, when women were expected to not work, and just raise babies.

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