2012: The Best Year Ever
For all the predictions of doomsday or apocalypse, 2012 turned out to be one of the best years ever! Seem hard to believe? Consider that the media and politicians tend to focus on sensationalism. Blood and guts sells, while inspiring news is often relegated to obscure columns or not reported at all. Read the inspiring article below to see what isn't being reported – that on the macro level our world is getting better all the time. Maybe we really are at the beginning of a golden age.
And yes, there is still much work to be done. As our readers know, there are huge amounts of corruption and manipulation of which the vast majority of people are still unaware. Yet consider that through the work of the WantToKnow.info staff and literally millions of other people and countless thousands of caring groups around the world, people are waking up all over. And we are coming together to make a difference and build a brighter future. Thank you for being a part of this time of great change. And may your new year be filled with much love, joy, and meaning.
Why 2012 Was The Best Year Ever
December 15, 2012
It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age.
To listen to politicians is to be given the opposite impression – of a dangerous, cruel world where things are bad and getting worse. This, in a way, is the politicians' job: to highlight problems and to try their best to offer solutions. But the great advances of mankind come about not from statesmen, but from ordinary people. Governments across the world appear stuck in what has been described as an era of 'turboparalysis' – all motion, no progress. But outside government, progress has been nothing short of spectacular.
Take global poverty. In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism. Buying cheap plastic toys made in China really is helping to make poverty history. And global inequality? This, too, is lower now than any point in modern times. Globalisation means the world’s not just getting richer, but fairer too.
[Note: Though income inequality has dramatically increased in the U.S. and a few other developed countries, major advances in developing countries have actually decreased the overall disparity between the developed and the developing countries in a big way.]
The doom-mongers will tell you that we cannot sustain worldwide economic growth without ruining our environment. But while the rich world's economies grew by 6 per cent over the last seven years, fossil fuel consumption in those countries fell by 4 per cent. This remarkable (and, again, unreported) achievement has nothing to do with green taxes or wind farms. It is down to consumer demand for more efficient cars and factories.
And what about the concerns that the oil would run out? Ministers have spent years thinking of improbable new power sources. As it turns out, engineers in America have found new ways of mining fossil fuel. The amazing breakthroughs in 'fracking' technology mean that, in spite of the world's escalating population – from one billion to seven billion over the last two centuries – we live in an age of energy abundance.
[Note: Though WantToKnow.info does not support the environmentally destructive practice of fracking, our readers know there are many other clean and very cheap new energy technologies, some of which are very close to completely transforming the world of energy. And even if those don't come through, solar energy is near parity with oil and needs only to be scaled up.]
Advances in medicine and technology mean that people across the world are living longer. The average life expectancy in Africa reached 55 this year. Ten years ago, it was 50. The number of people dying from Aids has been in decline for the last eight years. Deaths from malaria have fallen by a fifth in half a decade.
Nature can still wreak havoc. The storms which lashed America's East Coast in October proved that. But the speed of New York City's recovery shows a no-less-spectacular resilience. Man cannot control the weather, but as countries grow richer, they can better guard against devastation. The average windstorm kills about 2,000 in Bangladesh but fewer than 20 in America. It's not that America's storms are mild; but that it has the money to cope.
As developing countries become richer, we can expect the death toll from natural disasters to diminish – and the same UN extrapolations that predict such threatening sea-level rises for Bangladesh also say that, in two or three generations' time, it will be as rich as Britain.
War has historically been humanity's biggest killer. But in most of the world today, a generation is growing up that knows little of it. The Peace Research Institute in Oslo says there have been fewer war deaths in the last decade than any time in the last century.
Whether we are living through an anomalous period of peace, or whether the risk of nuclear apocalypse has proved an effective deterrent, mankind seems no longer to be its own worst enemy. We must bear in mind that things can fall apart, and quickly. Germany was perhaps the most civilised nation in the world in the 1920s. For now, though, it is worth remembering that, in relative terms, we have peace in our time.
[Note: Violent crime rates around the world have also dropped dramatically in recent decades. For more on this inspiring development, click here.]
Christmas in Britain will not be without its challenges: costs are rising (although many children will give quiet thanks for the 70 per cent increase in the price of Brussels sprouts). The country may be midway through a lost decade economically, but our cultural and social capital has seldom been higher – it is hard to think of a time when national morale was as strong as it was during the Jubilee and the Olympics.
And even in recession, we too benefit from medical advances. Death rates for both lung and breast cancers have fallen by more than a third over the last 40 years. Our cold winters still kill people, but the number dying each year halved over the past half-century. The winter death toll now stands at 24,000 – still unacceptable in a first-world country, but an improvement nonetheless. Britain's national life expectancy, 78 a decade ago, will hit 81 next year.
Fifty years ago, the world was breathing a sigh of relief after the Cuban missile crisis. Young couples would discuss whether it was responsible to have children when the future seemed so dark. But now, as we celebrate the arrival of Light into the world, it's worth remembering that, in spite of all our problems, the forces of peace, progress and prosperity are prevailing.
Note: This article did not mentioned some of the many other signs of positive and meaningful change occurring in our world. For a great article detailing 10 reasons for hope and optimism with a subtitle "Why We're Not All Screwed," click here. And don't miss the eye-opening and fun videos below showing little-known reasons for hope.
Related Articles & Videos
Hans Rosling: 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes
Hans Rosling’s famous lectures combine huge quantities of public data with a sports commentator’s style to reveal the story of the world’s past, present and future development. Here he explores stats in a way he has never done before — using augmented reality animation. In this spectacular section of ‘The Joy of Stats’ he tells the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers — in just four minutes. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Hans shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.
Steven Pinker: The Surprising Decline in Violence
One of the most important and overlooked developments that has ever happened in human history is the dramatic decline in violence over recent millennia, centuries, and decades. Harvard Professor Steven Pinker presents solid evidence of this decline in many spheres of behavior: genocide, war, torture, slavery, and the treatment of racial minorities, women, children, and animals. Watching this video, you may find you entire beliefs around humanity changed as you see that collectively we are actually becoming much kinder all the time.
� Pulse on Steven Pinker
� Wikipedia on Steven Pinker
� Book: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
� Book: Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide
� A History of Violence Edge Master Class
� Steven Pinker Website
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