The State of the World

Published by marco on

How not to be ignorant about the world by Hans and Ola Rosling (YouTube)

This video poses a few interesting questions about the state of the world. The two presenters argue that we should be less pessimistic about certain features of global society. For example, extreme poverty and deaths by natural disaster have all gone down significantly. There is almost global parity between men and women on number of years of schooling. These are all good things.

However, they seem to play fast and loose with some statistics. They use the statistics about people in extreme poverty to argue that inequality is going down, but that’s a pretty narrow view of it. It’s not just about whether more people have enough money to survive, but what kind of influence do those people have over their own condition. Perhaps we just have a society where the labor class/zoo animals are being slightly better-fed to keep them from starving to death or from banging on the bars too loudly. If they would have shown global wealth or income distribution, it would have told a far less upbeat story.

Similarly, they happily burble on about how we can use these advancements and improvements to extrapolate forward into a rosy future—completely ignoring the ongoing and accelerating climate crisis. How is it even possible for purportedly intelligent people like this to present simplistic linear-progression models that ignore gigantic influencing factors like climate change or another financial collapse due to extreme inequality? The younger guy extrapolated twenty years into the future without blinking an eye.