Every New Year, I look forward to seeing this list. I love seeing this since small, incremental improvements that are norm rarely make the news, but unrepresentative catastrophes gobble up the headlines. FutureCrunch put together a list of 99 positive stories that they see as representing human progress but that don’t get much publicity. They categorize these stories into six categories:
- Human Rights
- Global Health
These stories all focus on global progress that occurred in the year 2022. Gradual, small improvements aren’t new: here are the FutureCrunch lists of 99 good stories from 2021, 2020, and…you get the point. Every year there are setbacks, but the incremental gains are the main trend. For my students, do some added research on some of these 99 stories of 2022 that interest you.
- Identify 6 changes that surprised you and explain why you found the new information surprising. Bonus points for exploring a story from each of the listed categories. Label them A-F.
- How do these stories impact your perspective or worldview?
Post-script: While preparing this post about an article on the positive, surprising news, unsurprisingly, I stumbled upon its exact opposite, a New Year’s Day.
We are filled with negativity in social media that is often intended to exacerbate partisan divides and stoke animosity. This is nothing new, but at the start of a New Year, a symbolic chance for rebirth, seeing 60 minutes interview Paul Ehrlich was disheartening for me (he’s both a long-discredited doomsday prophet but also a Stanford ecologist that the media loves since his message taps into our primal, existential fears that drives engagement).
This article from Human Progress is an excellent, quick rebuttal to the positions advanced by Ehrlich in the interview. Over 50 years of horrendous predictions that shows that his environmentalism prioritizes alarmism and activism over data and intellectual integrity. Saying that the world is getting better (as I did in my TEDx talk) isn’t just optimism, it’s a recognition of reality. Sure, there are real, profound problems, but that doesn’t negate the progress that has been made. We need more incremental progress in the new year and should keep pushing for progress every year for the rest of our lives.
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