If we are 43,200 times better off than in 1800 how can the end be near?
The Mayan calendar is ending, Iran may be building a nuclear weapon, Syria is falling apart and everyone is yelling at everyone else on television, the end must be near, right? True, there are some very horrible things happening around the globe today, but should we all go into hiding and wait for the sky to fall? The simple answer is no, the world is a much better and greener place than it was just 50 years ago and we challenge you to take a moment and reflect on that.
According to the author Matt Ridley in a recent Reader’s Digest article, “the world has never been a better place to live in.” As skeptics berate him and others of similar beliefs of denying the world issues, he calmly retorts with some facts of his own. First, it is hard to find a region that is not in better shape than it was when our parents were just starting out. The infant mortality rate worldwide is declining, though we agree not fast enough in some improvised nations, however some of those impoverished nations are doing better economically. For example, Nigerians are living about 9 years longer and they have doubled their income when compared to a half-century ago. In an interesting example, Ridley provides a statistic that we are 43,200 times better off than we were in 1800, if you look at our affordability of basic home lighting and energy. With modern vehicles producing less pollution while traveling down the highway than a parked car in 1970, our energy efficiency methods are starting to pay off, just slower than you may have thought.
We are a population of problem solvers, regardless of region or upbringing. When I was in school, I couldn’t have imagined that I would someday be able to reach millions of people while sitting on my couch, yet I can because humans had a problem to solve. Sustainability is not just about recycling old cans or driving an electric vehicle, at its core it is about solving problems to ensure we live to see another day. In passing, I was watching a news story on CNN and a retired General summed it up nicely, “a person with a smart phone in the middle of the African desert has more communications capabilities than the Regan era Whitehouse situation room.” I may have botched the quote, but the point is clear we can get things done faster, better and cheaper than just a few decades ago, so think about what we can do in the next few decades to come.
For all of you engulfed in the doomsday reality shows on television, preparing for the end, I am not here to judge, just offer a different view. So while we cannot promise the world won’t end tomorrow, we are planning to get up and start a new day, perhaps working on a renewable energy project or setting up a recycling center.
We want to know your thoughts, is doomsday near or are we actually improving the world? Leave us a comment and join the conversation.
Image: Victor Habbick