Sometimes, it seems like there’s a shortage of good news in the world. We are just over a month into the new year and we’ve already been hit with some bad news like trouble in the Eurozone and the Jordanian Pilot executed by ISIS. But there’s still a lot to be optimistic about going forward into 2015! Here are 8 stories you can feel good about this coming year.
1. The World is Becoming Less Violent
That’s right! Despite the Syrian Civil War, tension in Ukraine and other crisis’s around the globe the world is actually getting safer. Stephan Pinker tracked the prevalence of violence in the world over the course of the last few thousand years. His research takes into account both war and crime and the findings are clear. You are now safer and less likely to be hurt or killed by another human being in 2015 than ever before in history. Even old enemies like Cuba and the US are thawing relations and moving towards a more peaceful relationship.
Also let’s not forget that last year saw the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan. For the first time since 2001 Canadians will not have to fear for the safety of our troops in Afghanistan – and that is something to be optimistic about.
2. Ebola is in Decline
Ebola was one of the biggest stories of 2014 but as 2015 inched closer the disease seemed to fall from the headlines. For a while the fear of Ebola becoming a global pandemic seemed very real.
Beginning in Guinea, the disease quickly spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and other West African countries. Thankfully a quick glance at the headlines reveals that Ebola isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds anymore.
The fight isn’t over yet but the disease seems to be contained. Last month Mali was declared free from Ebola and according to Medicins Sans Frontieres the number of new cases globally has declined. Efforts of governments, aid workers and medical personnel are working.
3. Extreme poverty is lower than ever
According to the World Bank the number of people living in extreme poverty is lower than ever! The number of people living on less than $1.25 per day has decreased from about 50% in 1981 to less than 21% today.
There are still over a billion people living in extreme poverty but thanks to volunteers, donors, NGO’s and responsible governments the number continues to decline. Overall levels of education, literacy and numeracy are also on the rise.
4. Action on climate change
Climate Change might be the greatest threat that we will ever face. Over the last decade the fight against climate change has been bogged down by political and technological challenges. While green technology is on the rise it seemed that politicians were unlikely to change any time soon.
Yet towards the end of 2014 something monumental happened – the US and China announced a joint agreement on climate change. That’s right. The world’s two biggest polluters acknowledged the critical role they have to play in the health of our planet. Cynics might argue that it is too little too late but everyone can at least agree it is a step in the right direction. Might 2015 see more cooperation? We can hope so.
But even if political change continues to be a slow process, technology is catching up. Electric cars and green energy are becoming less expensive. So too are technologies aimed at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Submarines and spacecraft already use CO2 removal systems but some are hoping that the basic idea can be done on a global scale. It is unlikely that CO2 removal technology will appear in 2015 but scientists will be working on it.
5. New Frontiers in Space Exploration
So far in 2015 Google has already announced a $1 billion investment in SpaceX while Virgin Galactic continues to make headway. Private space exploration is a growing industry that promises to bring new and exciting advancements.
Government Space Programs had a much better year. The European Space Agency landed a rover on an asteroid and Japan successfully launched a mission to bring back asteroid samples. China’s successful rocket tests put the rising power on course to land a robot on the moon by 2017. India had the biggest year in space travel. The country sent an orbiter to Mars for less than 10% of the cost of an American orbiter.
NASA wasn’t to be left out President Obama reiterated the US commitment on being the first to put a man (or woman) on Mars. NASA took an important step towards this goal that may prove to be a giant leap for space travel. The space agency successfully tested its new Orion spacecraft on December 5th.
Space flight is becoming cheaper and will no longer be the reserve of rich nations. Prices are dropping, international competition is increasing and the private sector is making inroads. This is all very good news for the future of space exploration.
6. Cheap Oil
Oil prices began to plummet in the last few months of 2014. Few predicted the dramatic slide in price but consumers have benefited and the outlook is looking good for 2015. According to oil forecaster Martin King the price of oil should average out to about $54.50 a barrel.
There are some potential downsides to cheap oil. For instance, petroleum manufactures could be hit hard. On the other hand, oil consumers (i.e. everyone) will benefit. You’ll find big savings at the gas station but also remember that falling oil prices lead to falling transportation prices which should lead to a drop in the cost of everything from clothes to electronics to cars to groceries.
7. The Economy is Getting Better
Even with the recent uncertainty in the Eurozone and the falling price of oil, Canada’s economy looks well positioned. In our biggest trading partner, the US, unemployment is down and GDP is up. Canada’s economic outlook has been hit by the drop in oil prices but the economy is still set to grow by over 2%. The drop in value of the Canadian dollar might hurt cross border shoppers but it could boost manufacturing and tourism from the US. The global economy is still recovering from the lows of the 2007 recession and things are looking up as 2015 begins.
8. Genome Editing Could Revolutionize Medicine
Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the 2015 Breakthrough Prize – a prize funded by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech industry billionaires – for creating a genome editing tool. A small abnormality in a person’s genome can leave them stricken with harrowing diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. Doudna and Charpentier found a way to edit the instructions of DNA. Researchers have been able to alter the genetic instructions of DNA but on a limited research scale. Doudna and Charpentier’s technique combines a number of existing methods with a strong possibility of medical applications. While a medical breakthrough may not occur in 2015, rest assured that scientists will be working towards it throughout the year.
Always Look On the Bright Side of Life
So this year don’t let the news get you down. Remember all the great things that we have to look forward to in 2015 and beyond!
And remember, any time you need a pick-me-up check out the Boost section!
Stay informed. Stay Current.