Human Progress? Really?

Yes, really. If you read the papers, watch television, chat with your friends and colleagues you’ve likely concluded that life on planet earth is both dire and worsening. Don’t be fooled. We are strongly of the opinion that not only is life on planet earth as great as its ever been but it is getting better and that the best is yet to come. Importantly, this isn’t our opinion; that life has never been better is a factual statement that can be supported by a variety of facts including:

In short, people are living longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives.   The angst and hand wringing that permeates our culture is not just misguided, it is wrong. Factually wrong.   Arguments to the contrary need to address two issues: First, where is any evidence that life today is worse than before? There is simply zero evidence to support any claim that the average human on the planet is worse off. Zero. All data conclusively support the proposition that life has never been better. Second, predictions about future calamity MUST deal with centuries of previous predictions that have failed to materialize 100% of the time. Population time bomb and Malthusian disaster? Didn’t happen. Not even close. The world supports billions more than the Malthusian predictions would allow. And, at a higher standard of living than ever before. By far. Today in most of the world the problem is the consumption of too many calories, not too few.

Resource exhaustion? We’re waiting for the list of exhausted resources that has meant a decline in the human condition.  Water shortage? UNICEF itself has offered that from 1990 to 2010 over 2 billion secured access to improved sources of water. (We’ll add that water is a hugely abundant renewable resource.)

Many of the arguments about a declining state of the human condition offer no evidence or data to support that conclusion.  That the planet is in a dire state is assumed and accepted.

The angst and hand wringing that permeates our culture is not just misguided, it is wrong. Factually wrong.

We are aware that the arguments we are advancing have the ability to provoke anger and disbelief. We ask our readers to set aside the emotional component and examine the facts. If you believe the world is about to run out of natural resources, we ask which ones? (See this humanprogress.com article.) And, what resources has the world already depleted and and what impact to the human condition? If you believe the population is out of control please find that factual data that 7.1 billion people is too many and show the decline in the human condition. If you believe we’ve ruined the environment please find evidence of that and that the environment impact has degraded the human condition. (We accept that the newly developed world is likely seeing higher rates of pollution, but we know that the developed world is actually seeing improved air and water quality. If you want to argue that we’re ruining the environment you must be prepared to cite factual data regarding pollution levels AND the negative impact on humanity.)

In short, despite centuries of chicken little predictions life on the planet is better than it has ever been.  There are more humans than ever and we live longer, have higher incomes, are more educated and literate, have more leisure time, are more connected to each other and information and have more food than at any time in history. How is it possible to conclude anything other than life on planet earth has never been better? Human progress? Yes, really.

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Your thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Wish to express an opinion, point out a mistake or generally reorient our thinking? Feel free to send an email to editor(at)humanprogress.com. We will likely respond and may even publish your comment.