The media are full of headlines about war, sexual assault, inequality, obesity, cancer risk, environmental destruction, economic crisis, and other disasters. It’s enough to make people think that the world of their children and grandchildren will be worse than today’s world.
But the real story, which rarely makes headlines, is that, to paraphrase Indur Goklany’s book title, we are living longer, healthier, more comfortable lives on a cleaner and more peaceful planet. (Allister Heath summed up his argument in a cover story for the Spectator of London, without all the charts and tables.) Fortunately, beyond the headlines, more people do seem to be recognizing this.
The Cato Institute, for instance, has created an ever-expanding website on human progress, known simply as HumanProgress.org.
Here’s Steven Pinker expanding on the information in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined in Slate:
The world is not falling apart. The kinds of violence to which most people are vulnerable—homicide, rape, battering, child abuse—have been in steady decline in most of the world. Autocracy is giving way to democracy. Wars between states—by far the most destructive of all conflicts—are all but obsolete.
He has charts of the data in each of those areas. And here’s Pinker at the Cato Institute discussing why people are so pessimistic when the real trends are so good: