We are not referring to how things are going in your own life, your family, community, or even your nation. Let’s think on a worldwide scale.
The rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer. The percentage of the world’s population living in severe poverty has almost doubled in the past twenty years. Less than half of the world’s population have access to electricity.
The world is increasingly unable to keep up with soaring birth rates. For instance, there are about 2 billion children (through age 15) today. The United Nations predicts this number will nearly double by the turn of the next century. Although almost all children in the United States have received at least one vaccination, fewer than one-quarter of the world’s children have had this benefit. Indeed, the number of children dying from easily preventable diseases continues to rise.
Worldwide, the gender gap is not narrowing. For instance, across the world, adult men have had an average of ten years of formal education. For women, it is half that number—about five years.
War, violence, and natural and man-made disasters continue to rise. Because of the increasing availability of deadly weapons, your chance of dying from violence has nearly quadrupled in the past 500 years. Your chance of dying from natural disasters (many of which humans bear some responsibility) has doubled in the past one hundred years.
And don’t even get us started on corruption at all levels in business and government.
To sum it up, the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Although we don’t think it can all fit into a handbasket, it is clear that by almost all measures, the state of the world is declining. Things are getting worse.
These facts are, at the least, unsettling to many of us. For some, they are downright horrifying. But for others, they are comforting signs that Armageddon is gearing up and soon to arrive. Some believe the Rapture will swoop them up and out of here before it all goes to …
Given the above facts, the world is a scary place and getting scarier.
Except, almost all of the above “facts” are not true.
In fact, the world situation is almost opposite to that described above. The countryside train pictured above much more accurately depicts the current state of the world than the train wreck pictured at the beginning of this post. At the least, one could say that while not perfect, the world is on the right track.
Point by point:
- The percentage of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half during the last twenty years. The total number of persons in poverty has also significantly decreased since the world’s population has grown by just over 25 percent during that time period.
- About 80 percent of the world’s population has at least some access to electricity.
- World-Wide fertility rates (average number of children women have in their lifetime) have declined by about half since 1950. It was 4.7 in 1950 and 2.4 in 2017.
- The UN actually predicted the total world population would be about 11 billion in 2100 and would then level off. Most of the increase in population would be adults (15 to 74-year-old). However, an increasing number of experts say the total world population will begin to level off at 9 billion sometime between 2040 and 2070.
- According to the World Health Organization, in 2017, 85 percent of the infants worldwide received the recommended doses of vaccines that prevent measles, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and hepatitis B.
- The women of the world average about 9 years of formal education, compared to 10 years for men.
- According to Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens, your lifetime chance of dying by violence is 1/15 of the chance your medieval ancestors had.
- Deaths from disasters have gone from 454 per million in the 1930s to 10 per million today.
Did we suck you in during the first part of this post?
Or were you skeptical about at least some of those claims? If you found yourself going along with those “facts” presented at the beginning of this post, you are not alone.
During 2017, Hans Rosling and his team gave a multiple-choice test of 13 questions to about 12,000 people in 14 countries. For each question, people were given three answers to choose from. Most of the false facts stated above were based on those questions. The average number they got right was two out of the first 12 questions.
By pure chance, they should have gotten an average of four correct. But these 12,000 people, on average, managed to get half as many correct, than if they had randomly the guessed answers.
What is going on? We promise to dive into some possible answers on our next post.
BBC News. “ ‘Remarkable’ Decline in Fertility Rates” November 9, 2018. Accessed April 4 2019 @ https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46118103.
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapines: A Brief History of Humankind. Harvil Secker, a division of Random House Group, Ltd., 2015.
Rosling, Hans. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World—And Why Things Are Better Than You Think. Flatiron Books, 2018.
WBUR. “The Road To 10 Billion: Where Is The Global Population Actually Headed”. Accessed April 4, 2019 @ https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/02/21/empty-planet-global-population-decline-growth-john-ibbitson-darrell-bricker.
World Health Organization. “Immunization Coverage”. January 2018. Accessed April 4, 2019 @ https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/immunization-coverage.