Hope for the Future

In these anxious times, it’s easy to forget how much safer, richer, warmer, cleaner and healthier we are than previous generations.

| February/March 2012

  • Sustainable Way
    It's easy to forget how much safer, richer, warmer, cleaner and healthier we are than previous generations. There is hope for the future; we can live on this planet in a sustainable way.

  • Sustainable Way

These days, if you find yourself feeling negative about the future of humanity, you may find some solace in looking at the past.

If you were born at the beginning of the 20th century, you could expect to live about 31 years based on global averages. Today, around the world, the average human life span is more than 67 years, and in developed nations it’s more than 80. A big reason for the extension of average life spans is the improvement in the health of children. In 1900, 10 percent of babies born in the United States died before their first birthdays. Our current infant mortality rate is less than 1 percent.

In 1820, 85 percent of human beings were desperately poor, living on the equivalent of less than $1 a day. Today, just 20 percent of us live in those dire straits, and that number continues to fall. Some experts think we will have completely eliminated that level of extreme poverty by the beginning of the next century.

Author Steven Pinker compellingly describes how violence has diminished across human history in his new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. He offers a battery of statistics. Murder rates have declined steeply. England in the 1200s recorded 24 homicides per 100,000 people. Now it’s less than 1 per 100,000. More recently, battle deaths in international conflicts have declined from 65,000 per year around 1950 to fewer than 2,000 per year in the present decade. Nearly every imaginable index of cruelty and violence has declined across time. We’re kinder to animals (gambling on dogfights, cockfights and bull-baiting used to be hugely popular); kinder to people of different races and ethnicities; generally opposed to slavery; and, by and large, we don’t let people beat their wives or children, which is a comparatively new standard.

In these anxious times, it’s easy to forget how much safer, richer, warmer, cleaner and healthier we are than previous generations. The profound risk in forgetting what we’ve accomplished is, of course, that in our ignorance, we might unconsciously lose some of what we’ve gained.

As Pinker says, “Whatever its causes, the decline of violence has profound implications. It is not a license for complacency: We enjoy the peace we find today because people in past generations were appalled by the violence in their time and worked to end it, and so we should work to end the appalling violence in our time.”

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters