War, famine, pandemic, and the collapse of civilization seem to be all that’s in the news. It’s enough to make one depressed. At Cato Institute, Johan Norberg and Tony Morley paint a more positive picture of the future of humanity than you might get from the media. They write:
The primary reason to be optimistic as 2023 matures is that humans are problem solvers. We constantly face surprises, accidents, and horrors — these are a given. But we also quickly get to work to try and fix them. When we do that, we acquire more knowledge and technological capabilities with which to tackle the next surprising challenge even better. As Max Roser of Oxford University’s Our World in Data puts it: “If you want to make progress you need to study problems. If you care about problems you need to study progress.”
Over these past 20 years, we have suffered financial crises, pandemics, conflicts, and war. But astonishingly, if you look at objective indicators of human living standards, these have also been the best 20 years in human history. Extreme poverty was reduced by almost 70%. At least 4 million fewer children died in 2020 than in 2000.
Our attention is drawn to the disruptions and the horrors, and only rarely to the healthcare workers and scientists who stay up all night to save lives, or to the entrepreneurs who rebuild strained supply chains to get food and supplies to where these are needed, reducing shortages that would otherwise be much more devastating. We rarely think of them, but we can trace their impact in the data.
People are remarkably resilient and imaginative, and as long as they have the freedom to think for themselves, innovate, and adapt to constantly changing circumstances, we will continue to see progress. Considering that the dictators of the world have just stumbled and that the Ukrainian people have reminded us all of the necessity of liberty, that freedom seems more secure today than at the start of 2022.
Read more here.
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