View Poll Results: Overall, is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

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Thread: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

  1. #1
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    Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    TIME Magazine proclaimed the 2000s "the decade from hell." Reason Magazine called it the "worst decade ever." And perhaps it's true that there have been more crises and disasters in the headlines than normal...from the disputed 2000 presidential election, to the dot-com crash, to the 9/11 attacks, to the war in Iraq, to the Indian Ocean tsunami, to Hurricane Katrina, to the financial collapse in September 2008.

    But is the world really a worse place than it was ten years ago? I'm not so sure. Behind the headlines of disasters galore, there are less sexy stories showing constant improvements on many fronts. Yahoo and The Economist each compiled a "by the numbers" comparison of the world today with the world in the recent past. While not all of the trends are positive, I think the majority of them are. Here are a few trends I found interesting:

    The number of people living in dire poverty (less than $1 per day in constant dollars) is dramatically falling. The number of people living in these conditions is declining by a Russia-sized population each year.

    Global fertility rates continue to decline, meaning we are reaching the point where the global population will level off in a few decades. The global fertility rate is 2.6 and falling...which is just slightly above the replacement rate of 2.1.

    Oil consumption has leveled off in the developed world. In 1999, the US consumed 19.5 million barrels of oil. In 2008, it was still 19.5 million barrels. Europe had a similar story: In 1999, Europe consumed 16.0 million barrels; in 2008, they consumed 16.1 million barrels. (However, this good news should be qualified with the news that the developing world continues to increase its consumption)

    The number of ongoing wars continues to decline. There were 50 active conflicts (as The Economist defined them) in 1990, and about 30 today. The number of people without access to safe drinking water declined from 1.1 billion in 2000, to 884 million in 2009. The global child mortality rate declined from 87 (1999) to 65 (2009). Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 46 (1999) to 51 (2009).

    And this isn't even considering all the technological goodies that revolutionized the world in the last ten years. In 1999, we didn't have any good social networking websites, easy-to-use cell phones, affordable GPS systems, Wikipedia, Twitter, blogs, or digital television. The Human Genome Project had not yet been completed, and stem-cell research was in its infancy. The average personal computer had less space on its hard drive than my phone does today.


    So even though most of the headlines were unusually bad this decade, I don't think they capture the true vision of the progress we made. What do you think? Overall, is the world better off or worse off than it was ten years ago?
    Last edited by Kandahar; 12-30-09 at 02:14 AM.
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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    In terms of goods, services, and health I would certainly agree that we are better off; the stats you have cited are a good indication of this.

    In terms of personal fulfillment, however, I would say we are worse off, and that our ever-increasing obsession with material possessions and social status is cheapening our existence.

    We may be living longer, and we may have access to more things which make our lives easier, but we aren't necessarily becoming happier or more fulfilled as a result.
    Last edited by Ethereal; 12-30-09 at 02:34 AM.

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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    It all depends on a persons point of view. Some could care less about the stats that you talked about. Being concerned more with their own plights or agenda's.

    As for me I generally agree with what ya said.
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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereal View Post
    In terms of personal fulfillment, however, I would say we are worse off, and that our ever-increasing obsession with material possessions and social status is cheapening our existence.

    We may be living longer, and we may have access to more things which make our lives easier, but we aren't necessarily becoming happier or more fulfilled as a result.
    we should all become buddists

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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by spud_meister View Post
    we should all become buddists
    false choice fallacy

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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    I'd like to vote for "There's not that much difference really".
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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post

    The number of people living in dire poverty (less than $1 per day in constant dollars) is dramatically falling. The number of people living in these conditions is declining by a Russia-sized population each year.
    Nice thread. Can i get a link for that? Alot of charities etc. are saying its rising.

  8. #8
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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    People tend to be nostalgic about times past... and talk about how 'bad' it is nowadays.

    "Why when I was a kid...."
    "When I was 23...."
    "Growing up we never had to deal with...."

    Who doesn't look back to the time of their childhood or young adulthood and proclaim how things didn't cost as much, lasted longer, was better built - or that it was "safer" on the streets than it is now.. etc....

    A lot of it has to do with our daily exposure to things that happen worldwide. As technology runs on and on, it's easy to become desensitized or overloaded on information.

    Just the coverage of the military happenings now as compared to Vietnam is huge. Instead of waiting on newspaper articles or magazine features, we are fed live images and stories that flood our living rooms.

    As we all know - bad news travels quicker than good and it's normally the bad that makes headlines. There's no money in warm and fuzzy any longer.

    So in retrospect, I don't believe the last ten years have been worse or better than previous years.... I'd rather look forward and hope that the future holds more good and less bad.

    I didn't vote in the poll.
    Last edited by TheGirlNextDoor; 12-30-09 at 09:43 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheGirlNextDoor View Post
    People tend to be nostalgic about times past... and talk about how 'bad' it is nowadays.

    "Why when I was a kid...."
    "When I was 23...."
    "Growing up we never had to deal with...."

    Who doesn't look back to the time of their childhood or young adulthood and proclaim how things didn't cost as much, lasted longer, was better built - or that it was "safer" on the streets than it is now.. etc....

    A lot of it has to do with our daily exposure to things that happen worldwide. As technology runs on and on, it's easy to become desensitized or overloaded on information.

    Just the coverage of the military happenings now as compared to Vietnam is huge. Instead of waiting on newspaper articles or magazine features, we are fed live images and stories that flood our living rooms.

    As we all know - bad news travels quicker than good and it's normally the bad that makes headlines. There's no money in warm and fuzzy any longer.

    So in retrospect, I don't believe the last ten years have been worse or better than previous years.... I'd rather look forward and hope that the future holds more good and less bad.

    I didn't vote in the poll.
    While 10 years may or may not have made much of a global difference I can say that in a localized enviroment 10 or 20 years can see considerable changes. The town that I grew up in has grown from about 11K people to 50k+. So I dont think for local citizens it would be untrue when they say that crime has risen considerably or that the roads were once much safer.

    I suspect many aspects have degraded in larger areas and improve in others. In the town I now live I would say little has changed in the past 10 years.

  10. #10
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    Re: Is the world a better or worse place than it was ten years ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by Baralis View Post
    While 10 years may or may not have made much of a global difference I can say that in a localized enviroment 10 or 20 years can see considerable changes. The town that I grew up in has grown from about 11K people to 50k+. So I dont think for local citizens it would be untrue when they say that crime has risen considerably or that the roads were once much safer.

    I suspect many aspects have degraded in larger areas and improve in others. In the town I now live I would say little has changed in the past 10 years.
    Very true.

    Much like cost of living and employment trends; all things are relative.
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