The Greatest Year

“It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world.”

Britain’s The Spectator magazine recently balanced this chip on its shoulder. When you consider the case they make, you may find it hard to knock it off.

They remind us that never in history has there been less hunger in the world. Never has there been less disease. Never has there been more prosperity.

Although natural disasters take their toll, they kill fewer people each year. This is because prosperity brings better housing to third world people. Housing that stands up to cyclones and typhoons. And prosperity brings better flood control and better warnings for them. Along with better rescue operations.

Yes, we have wars still. But they are small compared with those of previous times. And today’s more accurate weapons kill fewer civilians. While today’s gear prevents more deaths among soldiers. There have been fewer war deaths in the last ten years than any ten years in the last century.

Death rates from many cancers keep falling. Because doctors detect and treat them earlier. And because more people have doctors. More people have access to decent hospitals.

More people have drinking water free from pathogens.

In Africa life expectancy has risen to 55 years. This is an increase of five years in a decade. Aids deaths have declined for eight years running. Deaths from malaria have fallen twenty percent in five years.

The number of people who suffer extreme poverty keeps falling. Back in 1990 the UN did some blue-sky goal-setting. It hoped to cut extreme poverty in this world by half, by 2015. The world reached that goal in 2008.

The inequalities between countries is shrinking, year by year. One contributor is low-cost energy. Fracking promises an abundance of energy at reasonable cost.

There is a reason you may not feel life on this planet is improving. You live in a part of it in which the advances are minor. Your immediate world has already advanced a lot.

But for a few billion people, a car is becoming possible. Paved roads are appearing. Piped water and electricity are becoming realities. Decent schools are abuilding. Food has become affordable. So have magical cell phones.

When you study living conditions and prospects for those few billion folks, this is a golden age. And although much of this is old hat to us, it sure beats what our grandparents lived with.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

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