It’s popular to focus on doom, gloom and governmental dysfunction. Will the economy collapse or war consume us? Will we be able to outlive the ice sheets melting? But New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof takes a look at 2018 and argues that this negative focus may have distracted us from noticing the best year on record.
By Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
Let me try to make the case that 2018 was actually the best year in human history.
Each day on average, about another 295,000 people around the world gained access to electricity for the first time, according to Max Roser of Oxford University and his Our World in Data website. Every day, another 305,000 were able to access clean drinking water for the first time. And each day an additional 620,000 people were able to get online for the first time.
Never before has such a large portion of humanity been literate, enjoyed a middle-class cushion, lived such long lives, had access to family planning or been confident that their children would survive. Let’s hit pause on our fears and frustrations and share a nanosecond of celebration at this backdrop of progress.
On a dirt road in rural Angola a few years ago, I met a woman named Delfina Fernandes who had lost 10 children, out of 15; she had endured perhaps the greatest blow any parent can, and she had suffered it 10 times.
Yet such child deaths are becoming far less common. Only about 4 percent of children worldwide now die by the age of 5. That’s still horrifying, but it’s down from 19 percent in 1960 and 7 percent in 2003.