Will we live in a better and safer world?

Jonathan Power


According to the World Health Organization, over the last two decades infant deaths have fallen by a half, measles fatality by three-quarters, tuberculosis and maternal deaths by a half. AIDs related illnesses are dawn by more than a quarter. Back in 1960 one in five children died before the age of 5. Today, the figure is one in 20, still bad, but falling.

Developing countries are still poor but seem to be up and going in the area of health. Vietnam today has the same standard of healthcare facilities as the US had in 1980, but at present the same income per head as the US had in 1920.

Despite the Great Recession of the last six years poverty has plummeted. Although most of that drop has happened in China and India it has also happened in many Third World countries.

Population growth, a worrisome issue, is slowing. The amount of children in the world today is the most there is likely to be.

Education is spreading rapidly for girls.  In Muslim Bangladesh there are as many girls in school as boys. In conservative Saudi Arabia there are more young women in university than men. In Nigeria there are similar trends.

In 2015 there will be more war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan. Between Russia and the West the Cold Peace will continue, unless the two can work together and engineer a way out of the Ukrainian imbroglio. If the British vote to leave it, not impossible, the European Union might be thrown into disarray again. Action against Ebola, malaria and global warming will remain inadequate. It need not be so. 

There are still horrible things in the world but 2015 promises to be a better year for humankind than the last several years. We are outracing the Four Horsemen, extending the length of human life faster than pestilence, war, famine and death can take them.

Over the decades since the end of the Cold War, war has become less frequent and less deadly. It is true that in the last few years, largely because of Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan, the number of fatalities has shown an increase after years of decrease, but for the rest of the world the downward trend has continued.