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1,000 Bits of Good News You May Have Missed in 2023

Blog Post | Human Development

1,000 Bits of Good News You May Have Missed in 2023

A necessary balance to the torrent of negativity.

Reading the news can leave you depressed and misinformed. It’s partisan, shallow, and, above all, hopelessly negative. As Steven Pinker from Harvard University quipped, “The news is a nonrandom sample of the worst events happening on the planet on a given day.”

So, why does Human Progress feature so many news items? And why did I compile them in this giant list? Here are a few reasons:

  • Negative headlines get more clicks. Promoting positive stories provides a necessary balance to the torrent of negativity.
  • Statistics are vital to a proper understanding of the world, but many find anecdotes more compelling.
  • Many people acknowledge humanity’s progress compared to the past but remain unreasonably pessimistic about the present—not to mention the future. Positive news can help improve their state of mind.
  • We have agency to make the world better. It is appropriate to recognize and be grateful for those who do.

Below is a nonrandom sample (n = ~1000) of positive news we collected this year, separated by topic area. Please scroll, skim, and click. Or—to be even more enlightened—read this blog post and then look through our collection of long-term trends and datasets.

Agriculture

Aquaculture

Farming robots and drones

Food abundance

Genetic modification

Indoor farming

Lab-grown produce

Pollination

Other innovations

Conservation and Biodiversity

Big cats

Birds

Turtles

Whales

Other comebacks

Forests

Reefs

Rivers and lakes

Surveillance and discovery

Rewilding and conservation

De-extinction

Culture and tolerance

Gender equality

General wellbeing

LGBT

Treatment of animals

Energy and natural Resources

Fission

Fusion

Fossil fuels

Other energy

Recycling and resource efficiency

Resource abundance

Environment and pollution

Climate change

Disaster resilience

Air pollution

Water pollution

Growth and development

Education

Economic growth

Housing and urbanization

Labor and employment

Health

Cancer

Disability and assistive technology

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Diabetes

Heart disease and stroke

Other non-communicable diseases

HIV/AIDS

Malaria

Other communicable diseases

Maternal care

Fertility and birth control

Mental health and addiction

Weight and nutrition

Longevity and mortality 

Surgery and emergency medicine

Measurement and imaging

Health systems

Other innovations

Freedom

    Technology 

    Artificial intelligence

    Communications

    Computing

    Construction and manufacturing

    Drones

    Robotics and automation

    Autonomous vehicles

    Transportation

    Other innovations

    Science

    AI in science

    Biology

    Chemistry and materials

      Physics

      Space

      Violence

      Crime

      War

      Sustainability by numbers | Pollution

      The World Has (Probably) Passed Peak Pollution

      “The health impacts of air pollution are often underrated. There are a range of estimates for how many people die prematurely from local air pollution every year. All are in the low millions. The World Health Organization estimates around 7 million.

      The good news, then, is that the world is probably passed ‘peak pollution’. I say ‘probably’ because confidently declaring a peak is, apparently, the best way to make sure it doesn’t happen.

      Here, I’m talking specifically about emissions of harmful local air pollutants: gases like nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide which causes acid rain, carbon monoxide, black carbon, organic carbon, non-methane volatile organic compounds. I’m not talking about greenhouse gases.”

      From Sustainability by numbers.

      C3 | Pollution

      Lab Grown Algae Could Be Pivotal in Reducing Global Emissions

      “Brilliant Planet, a UK-based climate technology company … aims to harness the power of marine algae to remove emissions by the gigaton, and then sell its service within the broader carbon marketplace. Brilliant Planet relies on a mix of modern engineering coupled with the carbon-capturing capacities of some of the world’s most ancient aquatic organisms.

      The startup essentially replicates the natural algal coastal blooms that sustain marine ecosystems –– albeit on land.”

      From C3.

      Our World in Data | Pollution

      Oil Spills from Tankers Have Fallen by More than 90% since the 1970s

      “In the 1970s, oil spills from tankers — container ships transporting oil — were common. Between 70 and 100 spills occurred per year. That’s one or two spills every week.

      This number has fallen by more than 90% since then. In the last decade, no year has had more than eight oil spills, as shown in the chart.

      The quantity of oil spilled from tankers has also fallen dramatically. Over the last decade, the average is less than 10,000 tonnes per year, compared to over 300,000 tonnes in the 1970s.”

      From Our World in Data.

      The Hill | Pollution

      US Emissions Fell 17 Percent from 2005 Levels

      “Net U.S. emissions increased by 1.3 percent in 2022 for a total of 5,489 million metric tons of carbon dioxide compared to the previous year, according to the EPA. The agency attributed the bulk of the increase to higher levels of fossil fuel combustion as the economic rebound and lifting of pandemic-related restrictions that began in 2021 continued.

      Despite the year-over-year increase, however, the EPA determined that net emissions fell 16.7 percent compared to 2005 levels between 1990 and 2022. This decrease was partly due to a decline in emissions from industry over the last decade, according to the EPA. The agency attributed this drop to several factors, including macroeconomic trends like the shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy. Improvements in energy efficiency also played a role, as did transitions to lower-carbon fuels.”

      From The Hill.