- In a new editorial for Time Magazine, tech billionaire Bill Gates says data shows the world is getting better not worse.
- Gates says the widespread feeling to the contrary is due in part to the news media, which focuses on negative stories.
- In addition to writing the editorial Gates guest edited the latest issue of Time magazine and filled it with optimistic news.
In the wake of hurricanes, mass shootings and the shadow of a nuclear war, the world’s richest man wants you to take heart.
The world, he says, is actually getting better.
In an editorial in Time, Bill Gates notes many trends – ranging from the rates of child mortality to the number of countries now offering protections for gays and lesbians – are heading in a positive direction. We just don’t hear much about them, because of the focus on negative news.
“These events – as awful as they are – have happened in the context of a bigger, positive trend,” Gates writes. “On the whole, the world is getting better.”
Among the developments he points to are:
- A drastic decrease in child mortality rates for children under five. They’re down by half since 1990, saving the lives of 122 million children.
- A dramatic decline in the proportion of the world population that lives in extreme poverty, from more than a third of the population in 1990 to about one-tenth today.
- A huge increase in the number of children who attend primary school worldwide; more than 90% now do.
- Laws that protect gay people are now in place in 100 countries
- A rising number of women worldwide are being elected to public office.
Gates blames the media for spreading the widespread feeling of pessimism. People are more likely to read bad news, which encourages news organisations to focus on the negative stuff, he argues.
In addition to having Gates write an editorial, Time asked him to guest edit its latest issue. He used the opportunity to fill the magazine with positive stories. The issue includes essays from some of Gates’ friends who also feel optimistic about the future.
In his essay for the magazine, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett asserts Americans’ standard of living will continue to rise “for many generations to come.” Biogen vice president Samantha Budd Haeberlein writes in her piece that her company is close to a cure for Alzheimer’s.
Meanwhile, U2 front man Bono says in his essay he believes more men are starting to understand that they need to join the fight against misogyny and violence against women.
“Men can’t step back and leave it to women alone – to the Merkels and Malalas – to clean up the mess we’ve made and are still making,” he says.