31 Reasons to be Cheerful

Sometimes the scale of the problems and injustice in the world can blind us to the fact that not only are many wonderful and amazing things taking place, but also that many things across the world have improved considerably over recent decades. From time to time we should pat ourselves on the back as a species and take encouragement from some of our successes.

1  The percentage of the world’s population living on less than $1.25 a day is falling

2   Energy efficient LED light bulbs are getting cheaper

3  More and more companies are embracing corporate social responsibility, like M&S’s Plan A

4  Global life expectancy has increased from 53 to 69 years since 1960

5  The volume of Fairtrade sales continues to increase despite the downturn

6  The world is producing more food every year

7  More women are involved in running the world

8  25,000 items are swapped daily on Freecycle - keeping 500 tons a day out of landfills

9  The UK opened the world’s biggest offshore wind farm in 2012, and plans to build more

10  The American Bison has been restored to a population of over 350,00 from only a few thousand

11  79% of people in the developing world now have access to a mobile phone, vital for communication in the absence of landlines

12  Though it might seem hard to believe, the long term trend is of fewer people dying in armed conflict year on year

13  2.2 billion people are now connected to the internet, with relatively free access to news, information and education

14  The world’s illiteracy rate halved between 1970 and 2005

15  Though the world’s population is still increasing, the rate of growth has been falling for 40 years

16  Thousands of efficient and less polluting cooking stoves are being provided across the developing world

17  The percentage of world population with access to clean water and sanitation increases every year

18  More and more people in the UK are growing some of their own food in their gardens or on allotments

19  1.8 million laptops have been provided to school children in the developing world

20  While still tragic, the percentage of children suffering from malnutrition in the world is falling

21  Despite set-backs, a record area of land was cleared of landmines in 2011

22  Despite the Feed-in-Tariff debacle, the UK Government still has ambitious plans for solar power - 22GW by 2020

23  The Southern White Rhino has been rescued from the edge of extinction to over 15,000 animals in the wild

24  Malaria eradication seems increasingly possible within a few decades

25  Rising numbers of people taking part in sharing and collaborative consumption groups like Getaround

26  The number of new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS has peaked and are now falling

27  Global GDP per capita is still increasing, despite the economic downturn

28  Europe’s fishermen no longer throw 80% of their catch back into the sea, dead

29  Solar panels are getting cheaper every year

30  Less children across the world are dying before their 5th birthday

31  The number of countries with endemic polio has reduced from 125 to 4 since 1988 – Something else Ian would be happy about . . .


Photo by Cheerful Givers, via Flickr

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  1. Gareth Richards says:

    And we are one small step closer to the artificial hamburger:

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