Make a hopeful comment to a pessimist and he or she will often counter with “bringing you back to reality.” Most of what’s called “reality” are reflections from the dark side. Politicians, journalists, activists, and religious, environmental and other fundamentalists wallow in fear and dire warnings of impending doom.
Here’s what evidence-based reality tells about the state of our world:
• Life expectancy has risen 50% in that last 100 years.
• Infant mortality has dropped from one in five in 1960 to one in twenty today.
• Poverty has dropped more in the last 50 years than in the previous 500.
• The number of people in extreme poverty worldwide has dropped 50% since 1980.
• 1n 1981 more than 40% of the population lived on less than $1 a day. Today that’s down to 14% and falling.
• Population growth is slowing dramatically with the number of babies born per woman now half of what it was 50 years ago.
• The number of children aged 0 – 14 has leveled off and is likely to remain static this century.
• World food supplies have gone from 2,250 calories per day in 1960 to 2,800 in 2002.
• Girls’ education has risen dramatically and is now very nearly on par with boys.
• Childhood malaria rates have been cut in half since 2000.
• New HIV infection rates in sub-Saharan Africa are down 50%.
• The average number of wars are now half of the 1990s.
• Deaths from war are down 76% since 1990.
• Gun homicides in the U.S. have dropped 50% since 1993.
• Death rates from natural disasters have dropped 99% since the 1920s.
• U.S. dementia rates of people over 70 years of age fell from 12.2% in 1993 to 8.7% in 2002.
• Dementia rates in the U.K. in Britons over 65 have dropped by 25% in the past 20 years.
• U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have dropped 12% in the last 8 years.
• The U.S. budget deficit has seen the largest decline since the Second World War and is continuing to decline.
Why don’t we hear more about these incredibly positive trends? M.D., entrepreneur, and philanthropist Peter Diamandis along with journalist Steven Kotler explain in their book, Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, “because we’re hard-wired not to notice. As the first order of business for any organism is survival, our brain privileges information that appears to threaten us. As a result, we tend to focus too much on the bad news even as the good news struggles to get through. The media are so saturated with bad news — if it bleeds, it leads — because they’re vying for the amygdala’s attention.”
Further Reading on This Reality Snapshot:
• “Dare to be an optimist!” The Globe & Mail
• “You do know, right, the world is getting better“, CBC News
• “How much do you know about the world?” BBC News Magazine
• “How the World Is Getting Better“, Huffington Post
• “The World Is Getting Better“, The Daily Beast
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