In 2014 we saw the worst Ebola outbreak in history, the rise of the Islamic State, aggressive military actions by Russia in the Ukraine, and more.
Bad news felt like it was piling on nonstop. Sometimes it seemed there were so many awful things happening that it was hard to feel hopeful.
All that can distort your perspective.
Because here’s the thing: if you take a look at the world in a different light, things aren’t that bad. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic.
At least, retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (who has experienced a truly unique perspective on Earth) released an inspiring video — also a call to action — on his YouTube channel, titled “An Astronaut’s Guide to Optimism.”
“There are problems with everything and nothing is yet perfect but that shouldn’t be cause to bemoan — that should be cause to achieve,” says Hadfield, who is also the author of “An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth.” He says: “Our world is a better place than we often claim it to be.”
The whole video is pretty amazing:
Here are a few of the reasons to be hopeful, from the video:
- Literacy has been sharply on the rise for decades. In 1950, 55% of the world was literate, while in 2010, that number had risen to 81%.
- Life expectancy is greater around the world — this is the healthiest that people have ever been.
- Infant and maternal mortality rates have plummeted in last century, saving the lives of millions.
- Diseases like Smallpox and Rinderpest have been eradicated.
Hadfield also cites organisations making a difference, particularly the Gates Foundation. He talks about the importance of groups researching cures for malaria, delivering vaccines to children, and providing basic sanitation to those who lack it.
And of everything he cites, here’s one that’s surely close to him and is pretty astounding:
“In 100 years we’ve gone from filming the Wright brothers to landing a camera on Titan, a moon 800 million miles away.”
That’s pretty cool.
But that’s not all. This isn’t just inspiration, but also a call to action. Hadfield focuses mostly on the important work the Gates Foundation does, but plenty of groups do interesting work to make the world a better place. For anyone looking for some more space-related organisations, Universe Today highlights a few space charities worth consideration: Astronomers Without Borders, Uwingu, and Cosmoquest.
“Nobody changes the world on their own: it all starts with a resolution,” says Hadfield. “What’s yours?”
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