The Good News; with Some Data!

The World

Great News!Increasingly media images and text send a rather bleak picture of reality.  Explosions, famine, terrorists(-ism), financial/ market indicators in red, pollution, nuclear meltdowns, protests and other uncontrollable natural (or not) phenomena; are a part of the everyday news-soup. Even worst, reports use "data" to match the images thus making a rational argument over how bad the situation is.  I am not here to argue that terrible events are not taking place; they are.  The message is clear, stay in bed today…check back again tomorrow. 


I am not here to argue that scary/ horrific events are not taking place; they are. It is imperative that [insert your crisis/ issue of preference here] is dealt with (it’s not an option).  Moreover, it’s not going to be easy; formal/ informal meetings will take place (and most likely break down), people will die (uprisings are usually bloody) and the economy is not going to recover with the move of a wand or through a popular revolution (change is incremental).  However, I am here to argue that there are good news and there is data to support it. I am using it in this brief comment to show that; from a macro perspective and broader timeline our actions do seem to have an overall positive effect and we should keep up the work.


So what’s the good news?  For start reports often utilize data over brief periods of time, just enough to show you the red part of the downward sloped curve (and get you depressed).  A cunning plan, but methodologically speaking not necessarily correct.  Especially when looking on social or economic events it often makes more sense to exame longer periods of time. No government show the full results of its actions within a span of 4 years. If anything, people are still arguing whether the Clinton years of economic success were a result of Reagan's actions. More significantly over the past few decades governments and their public have advanced in many areas towards the better, here are some examples. More people have been gaining access to healthcare, education and clean water.  We avoided a potential nuclear World War III and we are now in fact moving towards the limitation of nuclear weapons  (there’s quite a few; it will take a while).  More recently one of the biggest producers of nuclear energy pushed for a paradigm shift: Germany aims to halt nuclear energy production by 2022 and replace it with renewable energy resourcesJapan says it wants to follow. Nations across the globe have accepted that climate change is an issue and are taking steps to deal with it.  The BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) which today account for nearly half the global population are taking significant positive steps to increase the well being of their populations, partly through the rise of their economy.  The planet overall has become a much more liberal place following the fall of the Soviet Union while the recent Arab Spring renews hope for the spread of more liberalism.  The equality movement has also made significant steps with women in some countries getting more education than men (waiting for the pay to equalize gentlemen!).  I could go on to mention, the reduction of the absolute number of people dying in wars, the unbelievable benefits provided by the frog-leap(s) of technology over the past 20 years, and the actual impact it has brought.  Freedom to travel to more places is also one of these benefits. 


 So, is it all sunshine and rainbows? Most definitely not! The end of history is much further away than Fukuyama would have us believe.  For troublesome/ disturbing/ worrying news just check your [insert preferred news media here].  It should be enough to bring your optimism down a peg (at least).  However, my point is that there is good news out there and it would be a good idea to remind ourselves of them once in a while. Information today is supplied with abundancy, that's great! It is also a good idea to take deep breath and process it carafully when we receive it. It's not always good, relevant or in fact true. Finally, it is possible that being a bit miserable is part of the human condition, I can live with that.  I can also accept that there is considerably a lot of work to be done until the planet becomes a nicer place to live in for the entire population.  Nonetheless, it’s important to appreciate that overall we are taking the right direction, that it does not come cheap, and that we should maintain that course (if not improve it). 


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