Don’t take my word for it. We have a lot to be optimistic about. So on days when worries about the state of the world are bringing down your spirits, head over to Max Rosen’s Our World in Data or check out his Facebook and Twitter streams. The Oxford economist provides data on the big issues facing us. Here are some of the encouraging trends:
- A billion people lived in absolute poverty (less than $1.25/day, adjusted for inflation) in 1820. The same number live in absolute poverty today, but world population is seven times larger.
- Some of the worst diseases humanity has ever known have been eradicated or are closing in on it.
- The number of oil spills dropped from an average of 24.6 in the 1970s to 3.3 in the 2000s.
- Child mortality plummeted between 1970 and 2012.
- Literacy rates are increasing globally.
Rosen does not gloss over issues such as deforestation, CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions or the increase in smaller, state-based wars (though the decrease in deaths is dramatic). However, what his data prove is that overall we have a lot more reasons for hope than for gloom.
If we can get climate change in check and reverse the growth in income equality, we will have even more to make us optimistic. Rather than throw up our hands in despair, we need to pull on our work gloves. Discouragement is normal, but Rosen’s data build a compelling case to believe in our species.