In the last hundred years, the twentieth century and the start of this century, humankind has managed to “do the impossible” and rein in famine, plague and war, in a century of astonishing achievements.
For the first time in evolution, starvation kills fewer than obesity. Plagues kill fewer people than old age. Violence kills fewer people than accidents. Extreme poverty declined from “over 90% to under 10%” in the last 200 years. And adult literacy went from 10% of the population to over 90% and so on.
To inspire our approach to the future, let’s look more closely at just how much has happened over the last 100 years. As you can see, we have made amazing progress in many fields.
Our global income has grown 3x. Our lifespan has doubled. Food is 20x cheaper. Energy is 50x cheaper. Transportation is 100x cheaper. And communication is 1,000,000x cheaper.
The number of people living in poverty has plummeted from 92% to %10. It could be 0% if we really try.
Has gone from 10% to near 90%.
The average life expectancy has doubled and is likely to double again. That is a great achievement but it has consequences too, for providing care, for global resourcing and financial planning.
200 years ago about 50% of children did not reach the age of five.
It’s up to us. Two things will reduce population growth. Make people better educated and healthier and the growth rate plummets.
Too many headlines blare death, destruction and damage.
But, when you delve deeper this progress shows only one side of the coin. The last hundred years has had more than its share of negatives for the majority of mankind.
Fifty years ago the developing world was witnessing the steady rise of a middle class, owning businesses, properties and shares. Fewer manual workers were being taken advantage of. Today that positive picture is in retreat. There’s a distortion in the economy and many of our global institutions. Society has been moulded to serve the economy, instead of the economy serving all members of society. Slavery was abolished but modern day slavery is on the rise (affecting over 40M).
This inequality of income and ownership is shocking and in much of the world the gap is getting wider not narrower. This drives increased migration, as one of many consequences.
All major revolutions in the past have been caused by a rising wealth gap. We ignore this at our peril.
Global debt reaches new records…$257 trillion in Q1, 2020