John Green on 2017

The following short video from best-selling novelist and popular vlogger John Green was posted last December 12 and points out that while 2017 had been marred by a continuing opioid crisis in the United States a famine in South Sudan and near-famines elsewhere, murderous ethnic cleansing in Burma/Myanmar, etc, there was also a lot of remarkably good news: a record amount of charitable giving in the United States (even after adjusting for inflation, an approaching total elimination of polio infections (just 16 known cases worldwide at that point in 2017), the lowest percentage of humans living in deep poverty, the highest rate of adult literacy, the biggest percentage of children in school, and record percentages of babies surviving childhood.

Incidentally, as Green takes pains to emphasize, reduced childhood mortality does not lead to population growth. If anything, in practice it seems to have the opposite effect. While he doesn’t mention it explicitly, greater availability of contraception is an important factor here as well (despite the opposition of well-intentioned but ignorant religious cranks), as is increased education for women and girls.


Here as a bonus is Green talking about his wife’s series about cooking and history and his own forthcoming one reviewing various aspects of the anthropocene (the ambiguously timed geological period in which we live), including his favorite soft drink, Diet Dr Pepper.


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