If a bus were hurtling towards a child in the middle of the road, no one nearby would take merely one step to get that child out of the way. They would rush, at speeds previously unbeknownst to them, using every muscle in their body, to get that child to safety.
On the climate crisis, a bus is careering toward us and we have still not flexed all our muscle power to get ourselves or future generations to safety.
Emissions continue to rise. The loss and damage is devastating. Trust has been breached. The resulting frustration, anger and incredulity at the pace of progress is warranted. As activists of all stripes remind us constantly, we need systems change, not climate change. And they are absolutely right.
At the same time we should understand our double predicament. First, we are actually in the midst of a systems change, and it is precisely the systemic nature of the change that slows the pace for now – until we hit positive tipping points. If we only had to transform one sector, or move one country off fossil fuels, we would have done so long ago. But that is not what it takes. All sectors of the global economy have to be decarbonised, even the hard-to-abate ones, and all countries must switch to clean technologies, especially those that have depended on exporting or importing fossil fuels for decades. It is a deliberate metamorphosis that is more complex and far reaching than any transformation we have ever attempted.
Second, just as the transition gathers pace moving from gradual to exponential, the window within which we need to achieve it constantly shrinks. The speed of change foreseen in Paris in 2015 has been superseded by improved scientific understanding and the shocking escalation of impacts being felt by the most vulnerable. We now know that we must halve global emissions no later than 2030. It is as though the bus suddenly accelerated as we were approaching the child.
And yet none of the above can keep us from doing what needs to be done – the consequences are simply too dire.
There’s been so much loss, grief and heartbreak in 2020 that it feels almost wrong to be compiling our traditional annual list of good news. Things can and do fall apart, and this year it felt like they really did. Amazing as it may seem however, there were also big wins for conservation, living standards, peace, safety and human rights, clean energy, and yes, even global health. The reason you didn’t hear about them is because good news doesn’t sell advertisements or generate clicks, and that was more true in 2020 than ever before.
16. Attitudes in China towards the eating of wild animals changed drastically in 2020. Up to 90% of the public now supports strict bans on the trade and consumption of wildlife, and more than 15,000 people were prosecuted for wildlife crimes this year, a 66% increase from 2019. China also removed dogs from the list of animals that can be treated as livestock, signalling the beginning of the end of the sale of live dogs for food and fur across the country.
35. The WHO revealed that malaria deaths have reached the lowest level ever recorded, a drop of almost 60% in the last two decades. Take a moment to let this sink in: between 2000 and 2019, 1.5 billion malaria cases and 7.6 million malaria deaths were averted globally.
Peace, Safety & Human Rights
44. A new report by the Global Peace Index showed that since 2007, the majority of the world’s countries – 113 countries – have reduced their armed forces, 100 have reduced military expenditure and both imports and exports of weapons have reached their lowest levels since 2009.
74. The IEA’s annual report contained a hidden nugget of very, very good news this year. The number of people without access to electricity dropped from 860 million to 770 million, a new record low. Africa has made particularly good progress; the number of people gaining access to electricity doubled from 9 million a year in 2013, to 20 million a year by 2019.
82. 2020 saw an unprecedented acceleration in national climate pledges. South Korea became the first Asian country to set a 2050 net zero emissions goal, followed by Japan, and then most importantly, China, which committed to net zero by 2060 – perhaps the single most important development in climate policy since the Paris Agreement.
Read the article at Future Crunch:
World’s Best News is an independent news organization for constructive journalism and campaigns. We report on progress and sustainable solutions to challenges in global development.
Our work is based on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which address some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as extreme poverty, global inequality, and climate change.
World’s Best News’s mission is to help people achieve a more nuanced view of the world. We believe that nuances and knowledge create hope – and that hope brings motivation for action. We want to make the Global Goals known by as many people as possible. When people know the goals, they are able to hold our political leaders accountable and make sure they deliver results. When more people know about the progress and solutions the world already has available, the more people may help these solutions to be implemented.
We launched in Denmark in 2010 and we are now an international network with sister organizations in Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, and with more to come.
WeRiseUP brings together some of the most brilliant, accomplished & high-impact leaders of our day to redefine a new model of success.
WeRiseUP is a culture shifting documentary seeking to re-write the success narrative and hack the success code. Our current model of success is destroying the planet and driving billions of people to unfulfilled lives. At the same time a new model of success, Success 3.0 is emerging from around the world. Success 3.0, is giving rise to businesses that do good – and do well as a part of their DNA. With Success 3.0 people are Rising UP to radically fulfilled, purpose driven lives.
WeRiseUP The Movie follows the stories of these people who have woken up to their unique self purpose and have taken action and produced amazing results in the world.
We are wrapping these stories in a philosophical backdrop with thought leaders such as Tony Robbins, Ken Wilber, John Mackey, Blake Mycoskie, Michael Beckwith, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Tom Chi and Lynne Twist. Their voices will ground the film in transformational thinking and help the audience to look deeply into their own lives to identify their own unique self purpose.
The entire documentary team is fully committed to making this project a massively significant contribution to the millions of people who will see this film and be moved to step up and give their unique gifts and commit outrageous acts of love. It is our shared belief that an evolution of the success narrative is a key leverage point in culture which has an enormous ripple effect.
For the last 12 months, the global media has been focused on a lot of bad news. But there were other things happening out there too: conservation successes, huge wins for global health, more peace and tolerance, less war and violence, rising living standards, some big clean energy milestones, and a quiet turning of the tide in the fight against plastic. Stories of human progress, that didn’t make it into the evening broadcasts, or onto your social media feeds.
Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too.
“If it bleeds, it leads” isn’t a phrase coined by some cut-throat tabloid editor. It’s a potent truth that lies at the heart of the modern day media machine. It’s time for some balance. That’s why our team at Future Crunch spent the year gathering good news stories you probably didn’t hear about,
We at GaiaInnovations have selected a few of the 99 cases below:
Some of the biggest conservation successes in generation
5. In 2016, more than 20 countries pledged more than $5.3 billion for ocean conservation and created 40 new marine sanctuaries covering an area of 3.4 million square km. Reuters
9. In December, the United States and Canada announced a joint permanent ban on all offshore oil and gas activity in the Arctic. CBC News
Huge strides forward for global health
11. In 2016, some of the world’s biggest diseases, like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease, started declining in wealthy countries. New York Times
17. Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 9.4 years since 2000, thanks to improvements in child survival, progress in malaria control and expanded access to ARVs. Quartz
Political and economic progress in many parts of the world
25. 93% of kids around the world learned to read and write this year. That’s the highest proportion in human history. And the gender gap between girls and boys in school narrowed in 2016 too. Medium
27. World hunger reached its lowest point in 25 years. New York Times
31. In 1990, more than 60% of people in East Asia lived in extreme poverty. As of 2016, that proportion has dropped to 3.5%. Vox
35. In June, after years of wrangling, the drive to end female genital mutilation in Africa made a major breakthrough, when the Pan African Parliament endorsed a continent-wide ban. The Wire
We finally started responding seriously to the climate change emergency
42. The Paris Agreement became the fastest (and largest) United Nations treaty to go from agreement to international law in modern history. CBS
74. The average number of large oil spills around the world has been drastically reduced, from an average of 24.5 per year in the 1970s, to just 1.8 a year in 2015. ITOPF
Endangered animals got a some well-deserved breaks
79. At this year’s CITES conference, 183 countries agreed to the strongest protections ever for endangered animals, with big wins for parrots, rhinos, porpoises, rays and elephants. Washington Post
81. Wild wolves started coming back to Europe, and for the first time since the American Revolution, wild salmon began spawning in the Connecticut River. Al Jazeera
86. Humpback whales were removed from the endangered species list, having fully recovered in the last 46 years. Science Mag
The world got more generous
92. In April, Pony Ma Huateng, the chief executive of the Chinese internet giant Tencent, donated $2 billion to charity. South China Morning Post
93. 2015 was America’s most generous year ever, with charitable donations from individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reaching record highs. 2016 is on track to be even bigger. Associated Press
94. In 2016, charitable giving in China rose to $15 billion, a 10 fold increase from just a decade ago Bloomberg
Read the whole article with all the 99 reasons by Angus Hervey from Future Crunch in Medium.
In radio you can listen to political economist Angus Hervey tells Jesse Mulligan why 2016 was, in fact, a very good year.
Recent political events have shown that the ‘doom and gloom’ news narrative no longer serves society. A more inspiring lens on the world is needed in order to heal division and empower people to bring about change.
Following the Brexit vote and Trump’s surprise election, questions have been asked about the media’s role in creating social division. Last month, Oxford Dictionaries named ‘post-truth’ the word of the year, describing circumstances when objective facts are less influential than appeals to emotion and beliefs. Our social media feeds have become echo chambers, critics say, and ‘fake’ news is proliferating. And only 25 per cent of people trust journalists to tell the truth.
Meanwhile, Stop Funding Hate has emerged, urging advertisers to withdraw from tabloids that the campaign claims fuel hate through aggressive anti-migrant stories.
But zoom out, and there is a wider issue about how the media has been influencing society.
For a long time, the press has been telling a negative story about human nature and what is happening in our world. The broad narrative that arises is that things are bad and getting worse; that we live in an acutely dangerous world characterised by self-interest, competition and scarcity.
Recent decades, however, have in fact brought much progress globally and by many measures. They include a reduction of extreme poverty; fewer people dying as a result of conflicts; improving health and life expectancy; more countries having become democracies, and falls in violent crime.
Nevertheless, the benefits have not been equally shared. And it goes without saying that problems faced by individuals, communities, nations and the world as a whole – from climate change to social inequality – need our urgent attention.
But, despite the brilliance of so much journalism, the media’s excessive focus on bad news has created a story about our world that distorts reality, divides us and – counterproductively – limits our ability to respond effectively to the challenges we face.
Where the media puts its attention and how it frames the information it selects, is a precious choice. It wields a powerful influence over our individual and collective mind states and it guides our shared cultural story. There’s an urgent need, and opportunity, for a better story about ourselves, our world, and what’s possible…