For all the world’s problems, human beings have never had it better
For City Journal, Yevgeniy Feyman writes: Bjørn Lomborg is well-known as a climate “skeptic.” He has frequently voiced concerns that money spent battling climate change could shift scarce resources away from more urgent global problems, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. But the most recent book by the self-proclaimed “skeptical environmentalist” does more than just voice concern; it attempts to evaluate the damage caused by a variety of problems—from climate change to malnutrition to war—and project future costs related to these same issues. In How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World?, Lomborg and a group of economists conclude that, with a few exceptions, the world is richer, freer, healthier, and smarter than it’s ever been. These gains have coincided with the near-universal rejection of statism and the flourishing of capitalist principles. At a time when political figures such as New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and religious leaders such as Pope Francis frequently remind us about the evils of unfettered capitalism, this is a worthwhile message.
[Order the book “How Much have Global Problems Cost the World?: A Scorecard from 1900 to 2050″ edited by Bjørn Lomborg (Cambridge University Press) from Amazon.com
The doubling of human life expectancy is one of the most remarkable achievements of the past century. Consider, Lomborg writes, that “the twentieth century saw life expectancy rise by about 3 months for every calendar year.” The average child in 1900 could expect to live to just 32 years old; now that same child should make it to 70. This increase came during a century when worldwide economic output, driven by the spread of capitalism and freedom, grew by more than 4,000 percent. These gains occurred in developed and developing countries alike; among men and women; and even in a sense among children, as child mortality plummeted. Read the rest of this entry »
I normally question official expert recommendations about food consumption, since health expert advice has often been notoriously misguided (the infamous food pyramid, which promoted unhealthy amounts of wheat, grains, carbohydrates, and erroneously demonized fats and oils, for example) but here’s one I’m inclined to agree with. Sugar consumption is something to pay attention to. So much is consumed mindlessly. Compared to our most recent ancestors, the easy abundance of it is problematic. Deducting half is not extreme. A realistic measure that could have proven benefits.
This is something that got my attention a while back: the amount of refined sugar the average American consumed annually in 1900, compared to the amount of sugar consumed per person by the end of the 20th century, is pretty drastic. Though I’m unsure of the exact figure, it’s exploded, multiplied from about one pound per year, per person, to 10-20 pounds per year, per person. How would that affect the health of a population?
From Mail Online:
Adults could be advised to halve the amount of sugar in their diets under new guidelines from the World Health Organisation.
Experts are considering lowering the recommended limit of ten teaspoons a day to just five over fears that it is contributing to heart disease, obesity and tooth decay.
Food companies may have to change their products to lower the sugar content, which would be hugely expensive and could prove unpopular with some consumers.
A single can of cola contains ten teaspoons of sugar, a Mars bar has five, a bowl of Coco Pops has about four and there are eight in some ready meals…
From July, 2012, Eugene Robinson writes: This is an amazing accomplishment, especially because it wasn’t supposed to be possible.
Before PEPFAR, the conventional wisdom was that the drug-treatment regimens that were saving lives in developed countries would not work in Africa. Poor, uneducated people in communities lacking even the most basic infrastructure could not be expected to take the right pill at the right time every day. When the drugs are taken haphazardly, the virus mutates and becomes resistant. Therefore, this reasoning went, trying to administer antiretroviral treatment in poor African countries might actually be worse than doing nothing at all.
The Bush administration rejected these arguments, which turned out to be categorically wrong.
Africans are every bit as diligent about taking their HIV medications as are Americans or other Westerners. While there has been a “modest, contained and not alarming” rise in resistance to one class of drugs, according to a World Health Organization researcher who presented a study at this week’s AIDS conference, scientists no longer envision a nightmare scenario in which drug-resistant strains of the virus run rampant.
Nearly nine out of 10 Chinese children aged 5 and 6 can identify at least one cigarette brand, and roughly one out of five say they expect to smoke when they grow up.
The survey, which questioned 396 children Jialing town in Qi County, Shanxi province, found that 71% of Chinese 5- and 6-year-olds had someone who used tobacco in their household while 86% could identify at least one cigarette brand – higher than survey counterparts in Brazil, India, Nigeria, Pakistan or Russia.
The researchers said they chose Jialing, a small town in China’s northwest, rather than a place like Beijing or Shanghai because they thought it would be representative of what a typical child in China might see. Previous surveys have foundsmoking rates to be higher in the Chinese countryside than they are in cities.