Greatest Time to be Alive

After Connor’s rather depressing piece… I just wanted to say.

This is the greatest time to be alive. For the average human, at least, in the history of humanity.

The world has never been better fed. Whether you’re a Congolese subsistence farmer or a land whale taking your mobility scooter down the aisles at Asda, the world has never had more food. Your odds of starving have never been lower. Thanks to a combination of improving crop yields from things like Norman Borlaug’s dwarf wheat and better fertiliser, you have the joint advantage of low food prices and high-calorie consumption per person. Food is cheaper than ever and more plentiful than ever. As GMOs become more widespread this will continue. The world can’t be fed on organic food alone, food prices would be far higher and ever more land would be needed to grow food. GMOs save the environment and save people from starvation. Thanks, Monsanto!

Connected to the above, the world has never been more prosperous. Poverty rates are collapsing, driven primarily by China and the wider rise of Asia, yet there has never been a better time to be the average person in a developing country.

The world has never been more healthy. Thanks to the rise of vaccinations, pumping mercury (amongst other scary sounding chemicals) into our children, the world has never been more disease free with many entirely eradicated in the Western world. We are also likely within a decade of completely eradicating Polio, the second disease humanity will eliminate after Smallpox.

The world has never been less violent. Your odds of being murdered have never been lower, from the highs of pre-state society, through to the spike in the 1980s, your odds of being the victim of a homicide have never been lower. Annoyingly this doesn’t include terrorism, but so long as you don’t live in Iraq, Nigeria, or Afghanistan, you’re basically safe here too.

The world has never been more peaceful (averaged over a few years). OK, I’ll admit, this one requires a caveat, but your odds of dying, or even being involved in, some manner of conflict (defined as one having more than 25 deaths in a year) have (almost) never been lower. When taken in a historical context, the shift is staggering.

Connor – the world is a better fed, more prosperous, safer, and more peaceful place than ever. There’s always more to be done. But we’re basically doing fine as a species. Next year will be better than this one. And the year after will be better. So chill out.

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