If you’re feeling low about the state of the world, consider this: In the long arc of human history, the world is now a much fairer, safer place to live.
As Nicholas Kristof from The New York Times highlights, since modern humans emerged about 200,000 years ago, we are now at a time in which children are least likely to die, adults are least likely to be illiterate and people are least likely to suffer excruciating maladies.
Diseases like polio, leprosy, river blindness, and elephantiasis are on the decline (or eradicated in certain countries), and global efforts have turned the tide on AIDS. A half-century ago, a majority of the world’s people had always been illiterate; now we are approaching 90 percent adult literacy.
Global efforts to fight malaria have yielded impressive results. An estimated 10.6 million malaria deaths and 1.7 billion cases were averted between 2000 to 2020, says WHO. 26 countries reported fewer than 100 cases in 2020, up from just six in 2000. Since 2015, nine countries have been certified as malaria-free. At the front of the pack is India, where malaria cases have fallen by an astonishing 86 percent since 2015.
Every single day in recent years, another 325,000 people got their first access to electricity. Each day, more than 200,000 got piped water for the first time. And some 650,000 went online for the first time, every single day.
There have also been particularly large gains in girls’ education - and few forces change the world so much as education and the empowerment of women. Indeed, over the last 25 years, the proportion of girls being educated around the world has risen to 89 percent - an increase of 16 percent since 1995. Furthermore, three times more women are also now enrolled in universities than two decades ago.
So next time you’re feeling down about how things are unraveling around the world, remind yourself about these positive trends.