For the myriad of problems we face as a species, we have made incredible strides over the last two centuries, especially since the mid-twentieth century, shortly after the world nearly destroyed itself in the second global conflict in less than thirty years.
Contrary to what we see on the news, there are ample data proving how far we have come in the hundreds of thousands of years in which we’ve existed (and in which the vast majority of the estimated 106 billion people who have ever lived on Earth suffered untold misery, fear, ignorance, and hardship).
Here are twenty charts, courtesy of OurWorldInData.org, that should make us grateful for living in this remarkably progressive, free, peaceful, and prosperous period of human existence.
Global poverty, maternal and child mortality, global hunger, battle deaths, and child labor are just some of the negative socioeconomic problems that have declined swiftly and significantly.
Meanwhile, literacy, formal education, women’s rights, economic growth, and life expectancy have increased exponentially. The developing world — where the vast majority of humans live — has seen the fastest and greatest gains.
To be sure, these gains by no means diminish the very real problems we must still resolve; far too many people remain poor, hungry, diseased, oppressed, and exploited. Yet, remarkably, it is far fewer people — both proportionally and in absolute numbers — than ever before in our history.
While we no doubt still have a ways to go, let us be thankful for our species’ boundless capacity to keep preserving despite our faults and challenges. Imagine how much more progress we will see in our (ever increasing) lifetimes if we just stay the course.