With the commentators on cable news getting more apoplectic - and apocalyptic - with each passing day of the Trump administration, it can be easy to forget that we’re living in some pretty great times.
A new report from Reason magazine lays out 40 things that show we live in a relatively peaceful, prosperous and enlightened age.
“While most people already know that we live longer and earn higher incomes than our ancestors, many people fail to appreciate that the story of human progress is truly multidimensional, including (in alphabetical order) increases in charitable contributions, improved communications, improving business environment and economic freedom, better access to education and cheap energy, a cleaner environment, more food, greater gender equality, improved governance (on average), better health, improved housing, (and) an overall rise in human freedom,” the magazine notes.
It’s true. For example, the environment is in great shape, and is getting better.
“Air and water is cleaner than ever. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged,” writes Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation. “Lead pollution plunged by more than 90 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent, with ozone and nitrogen dioxide declining as well. By nearly every standard measure it is much, much, much cleaner today in the United States than 50 and 100 years ago. The air is so clean now that the EPA worries about carbon dioxide, which isn’t even a pollutant. (And, by the way, carbon emissions are falling too, thanks to fracking). One hundred years ago, about one in four deaths in America was due to contaminants in drinking water. But from 1971-2002, fewer than three people per year in the United States were documented to have died from water contamination.”
And while hunger hasn’t been eradicated, we’ve gotten very, very good at producing and distributing food.
“Global per capita food production is 40 percent higher today than as recently as 1950,” Moore writes. “In most nations the nutrition problem today is obesity - too many calories consumed - not hunger. The number of famines and related deaths over the last 100 years has fallen in half. More than 12 million lives on average were lost each decade from the 1920s-1960s to famine. Since then, fewer than 4 million lives on average per decade were lost. When famine does happen, it's primarily a result of political corruption or malice, not nature growing too little food. Furthermore, the price of food has fallen steadily in the United States - and most other nations steadily for 200 years.”
And cancer rates are dropping.
“The death rate from cancer in the US has declined steadily over the past two decades,” the American Cancer Society reports. “The cancer death rate for men and women combined fell 25 percent from its peak in 1991 to 2014, the most recent year for which data are available.”
A big part of that decline is the fact that people are smoking less.
Clearly, it’s a great time to be alive. Don’t let the doomsayers convince you otherwise.