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.
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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…
Read the whole article by Seán Dagan Wood in Positive News.
Named one of ‘75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century‘ by Esquire Magazine, today the global theorist, TED speaker and CNN Global Contributor Parag Khanna believes that beneath the chaos of a world appearing to fall apart is a new foundation of connectivity that is actually pulling it together. “Seeing is believing. Better maps of the real – and more positive – world can shape how mankind thinks and behaves.
Here is 7 reasons why our hyperconnected global network civilisation will be okay:
1. Cities are solving the world’s problems
2. Trade includes everyone
3. Soon the whole planet will be online
4. More cities are becoming melting pots
5. We are protecting the planet
6. Africa is healing its colonial scars
7. Countries focus on the basics to build a better life for citizens
For more information and maps about each of the 7 reasons visit the original article at Atlas of the Future.
Hans Rosling asks: Has the UN gone mad?
The United Nations just announced their boldest goal ever: To eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, already by 2030.
Looking at the realities of extremely poor people the goal seems impossible. The rains didn’t fall in Malawi this year. The poor farmers Dunstar & Jenet, gather a tiny maize harvest in a small pile on the ground outside their mud hut. But Dunstar & Jenet know exactly what they need to break the vicious circle of poverty. And Hans Rosling shows how billions of people have already managed. This year’s “hunger season” may very well be Dunster’s & Jenet’s last.
Up-to-date statistics show that recent global progress is ‘the greatest story of our time – possibly the greatest story in all of human history. The goal seems unrealistic to many highly educated people because their worldview is lagging 60 years behind reality…
Watch the one hour video from 2015 and read the rest of the article in Gapminder.
Watch the 3 year old video DON’T PANIC — Hans Rosling showing the facts about population here:
Watch a 4 minutes video from 2010 (The Joy of Stats 200 countries 200 Years 4 minutes) showing the population development in the World over the last 200 years. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Hans shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.
26 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better.
The press — and humans in general — have a strong negativity bias. Bad economic news gets more coverage than good news. Negative experiences affect people more, and for longer, than positive ones. So it’s natural for things like Russia’s incursion into Ukraine or the rise of ISIS or the Ebola outbreak to weigh on us more than, say, the fact that extreme poverty has fallen by half since 1990, or that life expectancy is increasing, especially in poor countries. But it’s worth paying some attention to the latter factors. The world is getting much, much better on a whole variety of dimensions. Here are just a few:
– Extreme poverty has fallen
– Hunger is falling
– Child labor is on the decline
– People in developed countries have more leisure time
– The share of income spent on food has plummeted in the US
– Life expectancy is rising
– Child mortality is down
– Death in childbirth is rarer
– People are getting taller
– More people have access to malaria bednets
– Guinea worm is almost eradicated
– Teen births in the US are down
– As is smoking
– War is on the decline
– Homicide rates are falling in Europe …
– … and the US too
– Violent crime in the US is going down
– We’ve rapidly reduced the supply of nuclear weapons
– More and more countries are democracies
– More people are going to school for longer
– And literacy is, predictably, up as well.
– The US unsheltered homeless population has fallen by nearly 32 percent since 2007.
– Moore’s law is still going
– Access to the internet is increasing
– Solar power is getting cheaper
Read the whole article with charts and maps by Dylan Matthews in Vox.
Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in TED Talks 2016 where I discussed many of the challenges presented by the climate crisis. But a powerful shift has been taking place, and it is clear that we will ultimately prevail. Here’s why:
There are now only three questions we have to answer about climate change and our future.
1. MUST we change?
Each day we spew 110 million tons of heat-trapping global warming pollution into the very thin shell of atmosphere surrounding the planet, using it as an open sewer for the gaseous waste of our industrial civilization as it is presently organized…