Is the world improving?
Let me give you a shocking statistic. In 2007, despite the dismal gloom of health professionals that say that Americans are the sickest people on the planet, the raw numbers reveal that the average life expectancy in America is 77 years.
Can you guess what the life expectancy was in 1900? The answer is 47 years. I am 28 years old right now. If I were living in the first half of the 20th century, I would be past my mid-life crisis by now (a crisis I am very much looking forward to when I turn 50).
A provocative new book called The Improving State of the World suggests that, despite what advocates of the modern green movement say, economic development actually helps the environment, not hinders it. The book suggests that it is actually the richer nations that are more environmentally friendly.
As a missionary who has been around the world, this news came as no surprise to me. As a general rule, I have found that the poorer the country, the more pollution there is. I’m not sure if this outweighs the fact that the U.S.A. has only 4% of the world’s population, yet we burn 25% of the world’s fossil fuels. That would be an argument for the other side of the debate.
In the debate of economic development verses environmental stewardship, I am not sure who is right. Perhaps they both are right in their own ways. Like all things, the truth is probably somewhere in between The Improving State of the World and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. This being said, I doubt an economist would ever win an Oscar.