The big picture

“Editor’s View” reprinted from The Christian Science Monitor Daily News Briefing, April 19, 2013.

When news is disturbing, it’s worth looking at the big picture. Earth is home to more people than at any time in history. The only wars among 196 countries are a handful of internal conflicts. A recent report in the Norway-based Journal of Peace Research noted the “decline in the frequency and fatality of war”—and not because war is more lethal but because “peace has become more profitable.”

You can see a similar trend in other categories: In developed countries such as the United States, crime has steadily fallen since 1990, according to the FBI. While terrorist attacks have quadrupled since Sept. 11, 2001, the University of Maryland says deaths per year from such attacks have fallen sharply since 2007. Industrial and workplace accidents in the US have declined significantly over the past 11 years, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fewer people live in extreme poverty, says the World Bank. 

Though trends vary from country to country, humans overall are living longer, more peacefully, more healthily than ever. News may not give you that impression, but it’s in the data—and, more important, in the vast number of lives made better each year across the planet.

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