Mass shootings, ISIS, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, November Paris massacre, climate change, economic upheaval, infectious diseases, Syrian refuges, crashing airplanes, hurricanes, corporate greed and deception, Donald Trump… 2015 news headlines were full of disaster and despair. One national newscaster reflecting on the year solemnly declared 2015 the “year of darkness.”
But that’s mass media sucking us into the dark side of life. As Nicholas Kristof writes in The New York Times, “we journalists are a bit like vultures, feasting on war, scandal and disaster. Turn on the news, and you see Syrian refugees, Volkswagen corruption, and dysfunctional government. Yet that reflects a selection bias in how we report the news: We cover planes that crash, not planes that take off. Indeed, maybe the most important thing happening in the world today is something that we almost never cover: a stunning decline in poverty, illiteracy and disease.”
Here’s a partial list of what an incredibly better world we’re building:
- Deaths from war has dropped from 300 per 100,000 people in the Second World War to 1.4 in 2014.
- Mass killings of unarmed civilians was 350 per 100,000 in World War II and 0.1 now.
- Rape and sexual assault in the U.S. has dropped from 750 per 100,000 women in 1993 to about 1/3 of that number.
- Since 1973 violent crime in the U.S. has dropped over threefold from 47 victims per 1,000 to 15.
- IQ scores have risen 24 points in the past 100 years.
- The ozone layer is on track to recover fully in the next few decades.
- Life expectancy has jumped from age 50 in 1900 to over 80 in most western countries.
- The percentage of children in poor countries who die before age 5 has been cut in half in the last 25 years.
- There are now 1 billion less or half as many people living in extreme poverty as in 1990.
- HIV can now be controlled and even cured.
- The U.N’s Human Development Gender Inequality Index shows over a 20% decline in the past 20 years.
- Child labor has declined by 1/3 since 2000.
- Guinea worm infected 3.5 million people in 1996 and is now almost eradicated.
- Smoking rates in North America have dropped in half since 1945.
- Nuclear weapons have been reduced over 700% across the globe since their peak in 1986.
- Dictatorships and autocracies have fallen sharply since the 1970s and democracies now outnumber them by a wide margin.
- Years of education in USA, UK, Japan, France, India, and China averaged 2 years in 1820. It now ranges from 16 to 21 years, and is continuing to increase, in those countries.
- Illiteracy rates have dropped dramatically and continue to fall.
- America’s unsheltered homeless population has fallen by nearly 32% since 2007.
- Decades old Moore’s Law — the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years — is still applicable and continuing to drive exponential growth in computing power and technological revolution.
- Access to the Internet is up to 80% in most western countries and rising rapidly in developing countries.
- The cost of producing solar power has dropped almost 300% since 2007 and battery technology to store that power is becoming ever more efficient.
- 22% of the world’s electricity now comes from renewable generation through wind, solar, and hydro.
- The threat of overpopulation is fading fast as world population growth rates have fallen from 2.19% at its peak in 1963 to 1.13% today. This steady decline is expected to continue to less than 1% by 2020 and under .5% by 2050.
To paraphrase the super popular Star Wars movies, we need to see and use the force of optimism and positivity to counterbalance the dark side. When I was writing my book, Growing @ the Speed of Change: Your Inspir-actional How-To Guide for Leading Yourself and Others through Constant Change I posted an excerpt on Range of Reality: Choosing the Best or the Worst of Times. Creating the reality of the world we live in every day is a choice.
What’s your reality? Which force do you draw from most each day? These are vital questions for our health, happiness, success, and well-being. And for the energy we ripple back into the world around us.
- “The Most Important Thing, and It’s Almost a Secret,” Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
- “The world looks like it’s getting worse. Here’s why it’s not“, John Stackhouse, Reuters
- “Worldometers — World Population Clock“
- “25 Charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better“
- “18 Undeniable Facts That Prove the World is Getting Better“
- “2015 Gates Annual Letter (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)“
- “Now for the good news: things really are getting better …,” Steven Pinker, The Guardian, September 11, 2015