Environmentalism

Ronald Bailey: The World Is Getting Cleaner, Richer, and Safer

Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know documents the immense, ongoing progress that politicians and media refuse to acknowledge.

|

In the time of a global pandemic, soaring unemployment, massive wildfires, and racial strife, it feels like the world is going to hell.

It's not, says Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey, the coauthor (with HumanProgress.org's Marian Tupy) of Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know: And Many Others You Will Find Interesting. "In 1820," Bailey tells Nick Gillespie, "84 percent of the world's population lived on [the equivalent of] less than $1.90 a day. It took 160 years for that to get down to only 41 percent. But since then, it's now below 10 percent…and we'll probably be 5% or less by 2030."

Bailey's new book also shows that forests are increasing in size, deaths from natural disasters are declining, and there are fewer autocratic governments than ever. He believes climate change will become a significant problem, but one that can be handled with technology and economic growth. The main reasons for massive and persistent progress are better ideas for organizing human society. "Basically," he says, "the Enlightenment happened." With that came the rise of representative government, property rights and markets, and especially a belief in free speech and open inquiry that are essential for technological and social innovation.

If improvements are so ubiquitous, why don't we recognize it more? Bailey argues that politicians and media outlets have vested interests in focusing on bad news and that humans have a "glitch" that leads us to take progress as a given. "We just take it for granted, he says. "What we're trying to do with this book is to not let people take it for granted and [remind them], this is what has happened. And look to the future. If we keep the same institutions that enabled this, then much more of it will happen in the future."

NEXT: Trump's Struggle To Win the Gary Johnson Vote

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. No kidding, I grew up in the late 60’s and the 70’s. And quit confusing summer with ‘ climate change’ and fires in places that were, are , deserts with proof. Cut the damn brush and thin the trees you idiot. And don’t be surprised when you live there or on the coast of a ocean when terrible fires and storm happen.

    1. The recent article about how overgrown the CA forests are, compared to how they naturally behave with regards to wildfires was really enlightening.

      1. I’ve made $84,000 so far this year working and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing HERE? Read More

    2. ●▬▬▬▬PART TIME JOBS▬▬▬▬▬●
       
      I am making $165 an hour working from home. i was greatly surprised at the same time as my neighbour advised me she changed into averaging $ninety five however I see the way it works now. I experience masses frenedom now that i’m my non-public boss. that is what I do……
      ↓↓↓↓COPY THIS SITE↓↓↓↓

      HERE► Richfly2

    3. [ For USA ]    Single Mom With 4 Kids Lost Her Job But Was Able To Stay On Top By Banking Continuously $1500 Per Week With An Online Work She Found Over The Internet…Check The Details HERE……….. Click For Full Details.

  2. Gotta shill for those books I guess.

    1. I am making $165 an hour working from home. i was greatly surprised at the same time as my neighbour advised me she changed into averaging $95 however I see the way it works now.OLx I experience masses frenedom now that i’m my non-public boss. that is what I do……

      =================► CashApp

  3. So why doesn’t California have power? Why can’t we go to clubs and restaurants and bars? Why is Halloween cancelled?

    Why can’t you express an opinion that’s not woke and keep your job and not be socially ostracized?

    Why can left wing riots burn down businesses and buildings and get scot free, but counter protesters are arrested and harassed?

    We’ve never been closer to a leftist police state and it’s only going to become more and more budrensome.

  4. We will all be rich when we all make $15/ hour.

    1. Dude, now people are making an EXTRA fifteen bucks an hour for being unemployed.

  5. Except in California, where the air is orange-red today and crime is up.

    1. Except in California, where the air is orange-red today

      Yeah – it’s creepy.

  6. What puzzles me is why $10 for a kindle list of ten trends? If that’s all it is, why not just be a single article?

    Amazon says “Due to its large file size, this book may take longer to download”, which implies there’s a whole lot more to this book than just a list of ten things.

    In other words, what does this book REALLY offer besides a top ten list?

    1. Oh come on, just shell out the $22.46 for the hardcover version. It is a massive 208-page tome. You can put it on the coffee table to look “reason” woke.

  7. I’ve made $84,000 so far this year working and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing HERE? learn More

  8. Making Cash more than $15k to $18k consistently just by doing basic online work. I have gotten $18376 a month ago just by working on the web. Its a simple and basic occupation to do from home and its profit are greatly improved than customary office work. Each individual can join this activity now just by pursue this link……..go to this site home media tech tab for more detail support your hear Here══════❥❥❥❥Go to site.

  9. “In 1820,” Bailey tells Nick Gillespie, “84 percent of the world’s population lived on [the equivalent of] less than $1.90 a day. It took 160 years for that to get down to only 41 percent. But since then, it’s now below 10 percent…and we’ll probably be 5% or less by 2030.”

    We are,compared to prior generations, almost universally wealthy. Now we can afford to notice who has how much more than others do, and bitch about it. And while you may not be literally lynching me or paying me dick for working in your dangerous sweat shop, I don’t like what you didn’t say to me. And then find ways to take you down for having “privilege.”

    1. “We are,compared to prior generations, almost universally wealthy. Now we can afford to notice who has how much more than others do, and bitch about it. ”

      I wonder about indebtedness. It seems that global debt is in the tens of trillions of $US. Surely this eats into the wealth we imagine we have. Unlike wealth, which is conspicuously noticeable as you point out, debt is invisible. It’s not even mentioned in the article. Perhaps making debt more visible might help with your bitching problem.

      1. Debt, especially government debt, is invariably SEP [someone else’s problem] and no one wants their benefits, entitlements, or pet programs cut to achieve balance. It is indeed a catastrophic problem on the near horizon but anyone who has called attention to it is a Cassandra. Political will emanates from the optics of a constituency, and that won’t change until is has to.

      2. I wonder about indebtedness too. The gross (and growing) national debt figure gets bandied about a lot, but specifics are less visible. I find it curious that discussion never seems to be more granular than it is. Honest ignorant question: To whom is the U.S. Government indebted to the tune of those tens of trillions? Is it other nations? Multinational banks? Our own private sector? Are public and private/corporate debt significantly intertwined? In short, how does the national debt work?

        1. Boy, those are some good questions. I might hafta google “national debt”. But in the meantime, I’d like to recommend a book: “Debt, the First 5000 Years” by David Graeber. I went into it believing debt=bad. Period. But he changed my mind to some degree. Turns out debt has some features too. I’ve since read a couple other things by him, notably the pamphlet “Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology” that was full of some terrific insights. The thing that mystifies me about Graeber though, is how he comes up with all these really great libertarian-ish observations, then uses them to draw insanely leftist conclusions. I keep thinking that I’d love to meet him and talk, but then I think we’d end up in fisticuffs. At any rate, you know he’s doing something right since he got thrown out of his teaching gig at Yale.
          Oh shit. Well, I guess I won’t meet him now… he just died 8 days ago. Crap. Crap. CRAP.

        2. “In short, how does the national debt work?”

          I’m sure there are others who know more about this than I do. In simplest terms, though, the money is borrowed from future generations and is repaid through economic growth. So it would seem that government borrowing to invest in infrastructure development makes perfect sense.

  10. The discussion you two have about climate change is astonishing. This website has been wrong about climate change from the beginning…tantamount to a hoax, emails that proved fraud, no real problem and minimal warming. I guess we’ve “progressed” to the point that the harmful effects will be “significant,” so at least you’re learning. Well. Ron is anyway.

    So now it’s just that it will be resolved by a miracle that’s sure to come. And libertarians think environmentalism is a religion. And dollars in your pocket will make you and everyone forget about it and live with it.

    Are you paying any attention to the massive fires in the west? And fires that get worse every year? To the recent spat of powerful storms that increase every year? To the 120 degree temperatures in LA, and the temperature increase every year globally? To the rising sea levels that get worse every year and the impact that will have on millions all over the world? To the rising temperatures in the oceans and the impact that will have on sea life? What, are glaciers and ice at the poles increasing?

    We are all living this in 2020. You think this slowing down over the next 30 years? But relax…a miracle is coming. Thanks.

    1. We will all be dead next week from the ‘rona .

  11. ✔✔✔✔ Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing j0bs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8894 a month. I’ve started this j0b and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…
    ++++++++++++++➤➤ReadMore.

  12. And I’ll add one more thing, Gillespie…your framing of the issue around “catastrophic” climate change is total BS and you know it. Let me ask you a question…what’s your definition of “catastrophic?”
    Is California going through a catastrophe now with fires? How about New Orleans when Katrina hit? How about droughts in Africa? Tell us all…exactly when is it a catastrophe when sea life populations dramatically get reduced?
    That’s right…you further the BS by lumping in to catastrophe your “end of the world” comment, which no one has suggested.
    Libertarians. Furthering BS as much as our President.

    1. The weather is not the climate.

      1. Brilliant. Weather trends over a long period of time IS climate. But of course you’re libertarian…

      2. So go ahead and tell us temperatures aren’t rising…over a period of time. Tell us how the results of such increase hasn’t led to sea level rise…over a period of time. Tell us how storms haven’t increased in number and severity…over a period of time. Tell us how oceans aren’t warming and acidifying…over a period of time. And when you do tell us all that, I’ll let Bailey correct you.

        1. Tell us how those Ehrlich predictions worked out and how he won his bet with Julian Simon.

          1. Ehrlich? Wasn’t aware of that climate scientist.

  13. I’m pretty sure Steven Pinker already wrote this book, its called Enlightenment Now.

Please to post comments