It’s not the world that’s got so much worse
but the news coverage that’s got so much better. 

G. K. Chesterton


Despite the large number of things that are always going wrong with the world, the big picture is remarkably positive.

This can be difficult to get one’s head round – as there are always nasty things happening in a world this big and complicated – below are a series of info-graphics to aid with visualisation. They record the decisive and continuing improvements in human welfare across recent history.


Then and Now – we’ve literally never been in better shape

Below are three charts (provided by the Gapminder Institute of Stockholm) showing the state of humanity in 1800, 1933 and 2009.


  • Y-axis is life expectancy
  • X-axis is income per person
  • Each dot is a country (colour depending on continent)
  • Size of dot is population of that country

Note that:

  • Every country in 2009 CE has a longer life expectancy than any country in 1800 CE
  • Almost every country is richer in 2009 CE than any country was in 1800 CE
  • With very few exceptions every country is relentlessly moving in a positive long-term direction
  • Progress has been the norm for human civilisation over the past two centuries
Anyone familiar with modern history will note that the 1933 graph reflects the pattern of 20th-century development (with the Western countries taking an early lead).




Source: Gapminder

The last 200 years – Professor Hans Rosling Talks us Through Humanity’g Golden Age

Hans Rosling, of the Gapminder Institute in Stockholm, talks us through those charts, in an animated way; demonstrating just how quickly human civilisation is getting its act together (the action starts at 00.30):


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