The World is Getting Better – Honest!

 

Is the world getting worse or better?  Given the constant barrage of bad news, it is easy to think things are going from bad to worse.  You would be wrong, though.

“Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know (And Many Others You Will Find Interesting),” by Ronald Bailey and Marian L. Tupy, explains why. They show, using objective data, the different ways in which the world is improving.

They wrote the book because “You can’t fix what’s wrong in the world if you don’t know what is actually happening.” Using straightforward data and graphs they demonstrate why and how the world has improved, especially over the last 72 years.

The title’s ten trends are presented first. They include global enrichment, declining poverty, abundant resources, peak population, the end of famine, more land for nature, increasing urbanization, increasing democracy, world peace, and increased safety. Charts show the world is richer with fewer people in abject poverty than in any previous point in history. Famine is on the decline, with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline. There are fewer interstate wars today than in the past, and the world has become a much safer place. Additionally, there are more people living under representative governments and fewer under autocratic ones than in any time in the past.

Having delivered this good news, the authors drill down on trends in seven different areas: people, health, violence, work, natural resources, farm, and technology. They close with a section exploring trends in the United States. These reinforce the book’s theme: things are getting better.

The book has a simple format: a two-page presentation of each trend. The left page contains a discussion of the trend, the right page a graph presenting the trend graphically. This left-right combination provides a convincing argument for the authors’ conclusions. The sources are presented allowing readers to evaluate their validity.

This book demands a close reading, literally as well as figuratively. To provide over-generous white space, the text of the book is printed in a miniscule font forcing readers to read fine print. Readers with poor vision should consider getting an electronic version, where they can increase the font size.

This book is well worth reading. “Ten Global Trends,” offers an optimistic message, one bearing examination by a wide audience. We have problems, but “Ten Global Trends” identifies those we need not worry over.

“Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know (And Many Others You Will Find Interesting),” by Ronald Bailey and Marian L. Tupy, Cato Institute, 2020, 208 pages, $24.99 (Hardcover ), $9.99 (Kindle)

This review was written by Mark Lardas who writes at Ricochet as Seawriter. Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is marklardas.com.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    It sounds fascinating! Anyone who can provide an optimistic outlook with sensible data gets kudos in my book! Thanks, @seawriter!

    • #1
  2. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    I have ordered this.  Seawriter, you are a gift to Ricochet!

    • #2
  3. Drusus Coolidge
    Drusus
    @Drusus

    Good interview with the authors on Jonah Goldberg’s “The Remnant Podcast” a few weeks ago.  

    • #3
  4. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Drusus (View Comment):

    Good interview with the authors on Jonah Goldberg’s “The Remnant Podcast” a few weeks ago.

    Not enough commentators about positive trends.

    • #4
  5. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):

    Good interview with the authors on Jonah Goldberg’s “The Remnant Podcast” a few weeks ago.

    Not enough commentators about positive trends.

    Another good book about positive trends is Factfulness by Hans Rosling.  

    • #5
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Seawriter: Is the world getting worse or better? Given the constant barrage of bad news, it is easy to think things are going from bad to worse. You would be wrong, though.

    Yeah, I think if you ask most people they would tell you that the air and water are dirtier than 50 years ago, that crime has been trending upward for decades, that the United States doesn’t manufacture anything, anymore, and that the typical middle class American is poorer than in 1960.  Some people may change their minds if shown actual data, many will not.

    • #6
  7. Weeping Member
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    Seawriter: … with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline.

    Do they explain why they believe this?

     

    • #7
  8. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Seawriter: … with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline.

    Do they explain why they believe this?

    I haven’t read the book, but I can take a stab at it.  Poor countries generally make a lot of babies.  As countries become wealthier and the risk of childhood death drops way down, people have fewer babies.  It’s happened in scores of countries, so it seems to be an artifact of human nature, not just a trend in certain societies.  Statisticians project roughly what the global economy is going to do in the upcoming decades, and assume that decreasing birth rates will follow.

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Seawriter: These reinforce the book’s theme: things are getting better.

    If we can keep it.

    • #9
  10. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Seawriter: … with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline.

    Do they explain why they believe this?

    I haven’t read the book, but I can take a stab at it. Poor countries generally make a lot of babies. As countries become wealthier and the risk of childhood death drops way down, people have fewer babies. It’s happened in scores of countries, so it seems to be an artifact of human nature, not just a trend in certain societies. Statisticians project roughly what the global economy is going to do in the upcoming decades, and assume that decreasing birth rates will follow.

    Pretty much. Of course this assumes the wreckers don’t take over the US in November, and shut down this engine of the world economy.

    • #10
  11. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    There was a similar book of the title It’s Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years by the great Stephen Moore of Encounter Books Broadside fame. It came out in 2000 and made similar points about wealth, proverty, infant mortality and life expectancy. Thanks for drawing everyone’s attention to this book as well. 

    • #11
  12. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Seawriter: … with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline.

    Do they explain why they believe this?

    I haven’t read the book, but I can take a stab at it. Poor countries generally make a lot of babies. As countries become wealthier and the risk of childhood death drops way down, people have fewer babies. It’s happened in scores of countries, so it seems to be an artifact of human nature, not just a trend in certain societies. Statisticians project roughly what the global economy is going to do in the upcoming decades, and assume that decreasing birth rates will follow.

    Pretty much. Of course this assumes the wreckers don’t take over the US in November, and shut down this engine of the world economy.

    Scientific improvements will still continue even if the wreckers control the U.S. economy. I am jazzed for continuing improvements in gene therapy. 

    • #12
  13. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Seawriter: … with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline.

    Do they explain why they believe this?

    I haven’t read the book, but I can take a stab at it. Poor countries generally make a lot of babies. As countries become wealthier and the risk of childhood death drops way down, people have fewer babies. It’s happened in scores of countries, so it seems to be an artifact of human nature, not just a trend in certain societies. Statisticians project roughly what the global economy is going to do in the upcoming decades, and assume that decreasing birth rates will follow.

    Pretty much. Of course this assumes the wreckers don’t take over the US in November, and shut down this engine of the world economy.

    Scientific improvements will still continue even if the wreckers control the U.S. economy. I am jazzed for continuing improvements in gene therapy.

    Maybe not. The wreckers in this case are also luddites who think CO2 is a pollutant and GMOs are evil, just  to name a couple of their more dangerous bad ideas in the field of science. And there are plenty of Heirs of Proxmire among them, to boot. 

    • #13
  14. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Seawriter: … with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline.

    Do they explain why they believe this?

    I haven’t read the book, but I can take a stab at it. Poor countries generally make a lot of babies. As countries become wealthier and the risk of childhood death drops way down, people have fewer babies. It’s happened in scores of countries, so it seems to be an artifact of human nature, not just a trend in certain societies. Statisticians project roughly what the global economy is going to do in the upcoming decades, and assume that decreasing birth rates will follow.

    Pretty much. Of course this assumes the wreckers don’t take over the US in November, and shut down this engine of the world economy.

    Scientific improvements will still continue even if the wreckers control the U.S. economy. I am jazzed for continuing improvements in gene therapy.

    Maybe not. The wreckers in this case are also luddites who think CO2 is a pollutant and GMOs are evil, just to name a couple of their more dangerous bad ideas in the field of science. And there are plenty of Heirs of Proxmire among them, to boot.

    The only thing that can stop the incredible progress of scientific advancement is central planning. 

    • #14
  15. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Seawriter: … with world population set to reach a peak in the 2070s and then decline.

    Do they explain why they believe this?

    I haven’t read the book, but I can take a stab at it. Poor countries generally make a lot of babies. As countries become wealthier and the risk of childhood death drops way down, people have fewer babies. It’s happened in scores of countries, so it seems to be an artifact of human nature, not just a trend in certain societies. Statisticians project roughly what the global economy is going to do in the upcoming decades, and assume that decreasing birth rates will follow.

    Pretty much. Of course this assumes the wreckers don’t take over the US in November, and shut down this engine of the world economy.

    Scientific improvements will still continue even if the wreckers control the U.S. economy. I am jazzed for continuing improvements in gene therapy.

    Maybe not. The wreckers in this case are also luddites who think CO2 is a pollutant and GMOs are evil, just to name a couple of their more dangerous bad ideas in the field of science. And there are plenty of Heirs of Proxmire among them, to boot.

    The only thing that can stop the incredible progress of scientific advancement is central planning.

    And what do the collectivists on the other side mistake for rational economic policy? Central planning, of course. 

    • #15