Welcome to “And Now for Something Completely Different, Part 2”! If you were with me two weeks ago, you know I said this would be a three-part series focusing on good news in the world as a whole and then, later, in the United States. If you didn’t join us last time, then ... well ... I said the same thing.
Nine out of every 10 stories in the national news are negative and the airtime given to those negative stories are so extensive that the negative-to-positive disparity is vastly worse than 9 out of 10 would indicate. That does not present an accurate picture of our world. We all really need some good news to understand that the state of the world and our country is far better off than the number and type of news stories we get inundated with everyday lead many of us to believe.
So, forget the bad for a few minutes. Here is some more good news for you!
The rate of improvements in our ability to generate energy from solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, wave and tidal sources and to store, transmit and use that energy efficiently will, according to a recent Stanford study, enable the world to be powered entirely by renewable energy in just 20 to 40 years. Already, Iceland, Costa Rica and Norway get upwards of 98 percent of their energy from renewable sources. Sweden, Nicaragua, Germany and Scotland will likely get there within 5-10 years. In another 15-20, the rest of the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Denmark, Morocco, Kenya and the United States will join them. Soon after that, China ... yes, China.
Smallpox, the great child killer of previous centuries, was declared eradicated worldwide by the World Health Organization in 1980. Rinderpest (cattle plague) was declared eradicated in 2011. Polio deaths have been eradicated worldwide. Rabies deaths have declined worldwide by 73 percent since 1990; Tuberculosis deaths by 33 percent; HIV/Aids by 46 percent since 2005; and Malaria by 28 percent since 2003. Other diseases that will likely be eradicated within the next 10-15 years are Tetanus, Yellow Fever, Whooping Cough and Ebola.
There are so many treatments being explored and developed to combat cancer, it is almost mind-boggling: therapeutic viruses; dendritic vaccines; nanoparticle delivery of hyperthermic treatment (heat targeted at cancer cells); nanoprobes to detect the presence of micrometastases; starving tumors of substances such as glutamine that are found to provide nutrition to certain types of cancer cells; and bioresponsive scaffold systems that allow chemotherapy and immunotherapy to be delivered with much greater precision to their targets. Then there is epigenetic research which studies the changes caused in our bodies by alterations in gene expression, which dictate whether certain characteristics appear or if certain “actions” are affected at a biological level. And I’m just getting started!
Unfortunately, cancer deaths are on the rise worldwide (per 100,000 population); however, there is good news for us here in America. In 2019, 67 percent of people with cancer live at least five years after their diagnosis. (Five-year survival rates for breast cancer, testicular cancer and childhood leukemia are now over 90 percent.) In the 1970s, the typical cancer patient had a 50-50 chance of making it five years after their diagnosis. The nation’s cancer rate has declined by 16 percent since 1990.
Out of the 179 political regimes in the world in 2018, 99 were democracies and 88 were autocracies. That is quite an improvement in just 38 years. In 1980, there were only 41 democracies. That amounts to an increase in democratic regimes worldwide of 141 percent! In 1980, 1.56 billion people lived in a democracy, out of a total world population of 4.4 billion (35 percent of the world’s population was free). In 2015, 4.5 billion lived in democracies, out of a world population of 7.35 billion (61 percent of the world’s population was free! Yay! And again, I say ... Yay!).
What about war? Seems there’s war all over the place, doesn’t it? Well, let’s see. “Great Powers” wars (i.e. wars involving some combination of the European great powers, Russia, China, Japan and the United States) came to a complete halt in the 21st century after more than 50 of them between 1500 and 2000. Some of them lasted for decades. War in Europe from the days of the Roman Empire until the end of World War II seemed to be a continental past time they could not live without! In 2016, a person had a .000012 percent chance of dying a violent death as the result of war (1.17 people out of every 100,000 worldwide). In 1984 (proxy battles of the Cold War), a person was five times likelier to lose their life in a war. In 1972 (Vietnam and others), they were seven times likelier. In 1950, 21 times likelier (Korea and elsewhere).
Believe it or not, the world in 2019 is the safest place to live it’s ever been! See you next time for Part 3.
Dr. James Henri Cook has been a university
educator, political and humanitarian activist, life coach and motivational speaker for 30 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.