Will the world ever get better

Vince Ebert extrapolates: What if the world just got better and better?

Modern man is around 300,000 years old, but in the last 10,000 years in particular, our world has changed to a greater extent than ever before. We invented agriculture and animal husbandry, founded cities and traded. In 1500 there were just 500 million people on earth. Back then, four or five modern container ships could have taken all the cargo from all the world's merchant ships on board.

With the beginning of the industrial revolution, this development accelerated again. We invented the steam engine, the mechanical loom and the gasoline engine. Gas lanterns were replaced by electric light bulbs, artificial fertilizers, microchips and airplanes emerged. Alexander Fleming invented penicillin, Gregory Pincus invented the birth control pill. Agronomist Norman Borlaug raised wheat that tripled the yield and started the green revolution.

Today over seven billion people live on this planet. And the paradox is, despite the tremendous population growth, the majority of these people are richer, healthier and freer today than any human being has ever been in all of history.

When I was born, a 70-year-old man was statistically dead. Today he's going to buy a Harley. My grandfather worked in the mining industry. When he retired, he was physically a wreck. Today, 65-year-olds are just as physically fit as a 40-year-old was in 1965. We are really fine. Better than ever.

With a few exceptions, this positive trend applies worldwide. Regardless of whether you look at the development of life expectancy, vaccination rates, child mortality, literacy, food calories per capita or average income. Whichever indicator you pick up, they all looked worse 50, 100 or 200 years ago. In the last 20 years alone, the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide has more than halved.

If you shake your head skeptically at this point, then I recommend the freely accessible online platform ourworldindata.org. It was founded by the economist Max Roser, who teaches at the University of Oxford. On the basis of reliable data sources, one can see in black and white interactive graphics how phenomenally living conditions have improved in almost all countries over the past 150 years.