When we hear news, typically it’s because something has happened – and more often than not it’s bad. Does this mean the world we live in is getting worse or better? How are we all treating one another? And are things as bad as the evening news would suggest?
Every night we hear about the world becoming a more frightening place where danger is running rampant. Economies are in decline globally, the price of food is increasing, financial institutions are scamming millions (if not billions), international relations are constantly suffering setbacks, each emerging technology threatens to take rights away from the individual, divorce is sky high, crime is throttling the world, and there is even the suggestion that it could all end because of the pollution that we suffer with even today. So it seems naive to be optimistic about the planet’s prospects. And yet, despite this, surveys independently point to the fact that things are somehow getting better.
What about crime? Even in the midst of a recession, often thought to be the worst time for crime in the US the rate of violent crimes dropped significantly. FBI reports from 2008 to 2009 suggested that violent crime was down 5.5 percent while property crime declined by 4.9 percent during this time.
Internationally, in various developing nations – where malaria was seen as one of the greatest challenges, rates have dropped significantly by 25% globally according to 2011’s World Malaria Report. The number of deaths internationally from AIDS has similarly declined since 2006 for the first time.
Poverty, while still appearing like an insurmountable problem to many, is expected to drop below 15% according to a report by Millennium Development Goals.
The Global average for life expectancy in 1960 was 52.65 years old. In 2013, it is expected to rise to over 70. War has similarly dropped significantly, despite the US being embroiled in its most protracted conflict ever.
At the end of 2006 there were only 32 armed conflicts being fought around the world. This number dropped 40% from when it last peaked in 1992. In the same 14 year period, conflicts resulting in over 1,000 deaths a year declined 72%.
Charitable giving in the United States increased 2.1% in 2010 according to the annual Giving USA report. Despite economic decline, individuals and organizations donating to charities totaled $290.9 billion.
If there were an intergalactic historian keeping track of the rise and fall of planets as history stretched on, under the heading of planet Earth we may find that in 2012 the human race was progressing toward a better future, convinced that civilization was on the brink of collapse. Of course this sunny outlook isn’t absolute. There are problems that require addressing, and if history is any indicator – there always will be. But the proverbial hand-basket we are all sitting in may not be heading down after-all.