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Reasons to be Hopeful About the Future

December 22, 2011

It seems like everything on the news has been doom and gloom lately.  But there are a number of reasons to be encouraged:

  • The obesity levels in the United States have leveled off.  News here.  It looks like 33% obese and 33% overweight is about the limit of what desk jobs will do to the population.  We will never wind up looking like the people in Wall-E.

As a corollary to that,

  • We know so much more now than we used to.  Consider how inconceivable it would have been to get protein from vegetable sources in the 1950’s.  Tofu?  You must be a Communist!  And we are slowly, very slowly, beginning to understand that being overweight isn’t a failure of character, it’s a disease.  And we’re racing for a way to deal with it.
  • Population growth is slowing down.  Yes, by most accounts, we just hit the 7 billion mark.  But according to the United Nations, the rate of increase has been constantly declining since the 1960’s.  We still don’t what will happen in the future, but the total number of people could level off around the year 2100, and then slowly drop after that.
  • Violence is way down.  See the book by Stephen Pinker.
  • The United States has a tradition of peaceful protest as a method of first resort.  Yes, the Tea Party and Occupy movements have seen their share of arrests.  But think of what it could have been – riots – or the government could have quashed both movements before they even began.  You can go and tell everybody you think the national parks should be converted into casinos to raise revenue.  I’ll heartily disagree with you, but you can say it.

So happy Christmas, Hannukah, Festivus or what have you, everyone, and keep on trucking.

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