With a Twist Blog: is this the Best of Times?

Map_HeartBy Judi Wyatt

Glad to see the end of 2014?

You might be surprised to learn about 8 ways in which there has been no better time to be alive.

I read an inspiring and hopeful article by Riley Sparks in the January 2, 2015 edition of The Toronto Star. Below are some of the facts I learned.

In terms of wealth and health:

  • Between 1990 and 2010, the number of people living in dire poverty was reduced by 700 million.  During the same period, the number of people chronically malnourished has been cut in half.
  • Child mortality is decreasing.  In 2012, 6 million fewer children died before the age of five than in 1990.
  • Vaccination is up, with 85% of all people now vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and meningococcal disease.
  • Fewer people are getting malaria, and among those who do, fewer are dying. Mortality due to malaria declined by 47% between 2000 and 2013.
  • HIV-related health problems killed 22% fewer people than in 2009.  In the same period, the rate of at-birth HIV infection dropped by 40%.

In terms of national conflicts:

  • Wars declared between countries occur less often and none have killed more than 1000 people since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
  • The number of high intensity conflicts was at its height in 1986 and has declined in almost every year since.
  • There were fewer conflict deaths in 2014 than in almost any year since the end of WWII.

If you are surprised by these statistics, remember that we pay more attention to large frightening threats such as terrorist attacks than the more common and likely dangers such as bathtub accidents and traffic fatalities.  What do you think is the cause of the most deaths each year globally?

Disaster....famine?     Mosquitos.

Disaster? ….Famine? …….Mosquitos.

The answer is: the mosquito.

…and the media bombards us with real time images of disasters around the world, without statistical context. Scott Gilmore, a senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs observes, “You, in the last week, have probably seen more violence than your great-great-great grandfather and everyone  before him did combined.  How often did they see beheadings and carpet bombings and avalanches and things like that?  We’re inundated with that, and it turns us into nervous wrecks….if we step back and look collectively, the world is a better place and a safer place than it was even a year ago.”

Let’s keep this in mind and be heartened by these successes as we make our wish list for 2015.  

If you are inwardly disputing the positive news about conflicts, asking yourswelf  “But what about Syria? The Central African Republic? The threat of ISIL?” stay tuned for my next blog:

“3 ways in which wars are increasingly destructive and what we can do about them”

Do you feel optimistic about further improvements in the human condition in 2015?