So it’s still technically the beginning of January, so I don’t feel too bad in writing about the year to come. This time of year we are prone to making predictions, and in worldwide terms these tend to be negative. The spread of tuberculosis, terrorism, ebola, antibiotic resistance, the list seems never ending. However there are many reasons why the future can look bright.
We’ve reached peak child. Fertility rates have levelled off and it seems like our future population will level off probably somewhere around 10 billion. Across the board we’ve seen increases in development and education, both strongly related to fertility, and all implying that the rampant exponential population growth we’ve seen has already come to an end.
We’re living longer. While in the the 19th and early 20th century this was mostly due to improvements in sanitation and infrastructure, it’s thought that the more recent increase is due to decrease late-life mortality, and reduced death rates from infectious disease.
We’ve become better at looking after children. One of the great successes of the last few decades has been the dramatic reduction in child mortality. Widespread vaccination programs combined with sanitation and health care infrastructure are swinging the odds. Today there is a 1 in 20 chance a child will die under 5, by 2030 this is expected to be 1 in 40.
This is a by no means an exhaustive list, indices such as the Human Development Index continue to experience year on year highs. So while news headlines may be filled with story on story about how we’ll all be dead in a few years, the human condition as a whole is continuing to improve.
Finally, although there is optimism in the future, much of that depends on charities and organisations that could use our help. Currently Givewell’s top recommended charity is the Against Malaria Foundation, a charity that provides nets to areas at risk of malaria and are currently deemed to be one of the most efficient users of donations.