Humanity has never had it better.
This assertion is largely defied by the statistical data of humans living in what came to be politically dubbed the 'third world' in the past century. I will quote a small excerpt from 'Deaths and Wars in the 20th Century' by Milton Leitenberg writing for Cornell University's Peace Studies Program:
"In 1994, the historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote that 187 million people were “killed or allowed to die by human decision” in what he called the “short century”–a period of about 75 years from 1914 to 1991." Mr. Leitenberg goes on to write that 44 million human casualties were left out of this figure due to the time frame, collectively bringing the world total up to 231 million people killed by human decision in the 20th century, alone.
This presupposes that when you speak of 'humanity' and its ever-improving conditions that we are also referring to the people of the war-ravaged nations of the Earth as part of humanity. If we accept this supposition, the past century of imperialism and the spread of the United States empire has heralded a severe drop in the living standards of almost all the countries where we have given aid, or where we have had any national security interest. The historical record giving evidence to this is exemplary in its support of this statement. The United States is, of course, not the only malefactor to be seen in the record; but by far it has held the highest death toll in the modern era. Other culprits include Britain, France, the former Soviet Union, China, Japan, Germany, and the list goes on.
At no point in history have more people enjoyed a higher standard of living
It can be argued that pre-colonial America (North and South) enjoyed a much higher standard of living than the present day post-imperial cases. The poverty line in Latin America is astoundingly high compared to first world industrialized nations; I can cite examples of this if you wish. [Edit: It is to be noted, also, that the poverty line increased, not decreased, as the 20th century progressed] Africa shares a magnified version of this very condition, much of Asia resides in the same boat; so when you say that more people enjoy a higher standard of living, are you defining the majority of the world's population as 'people'?
At no point in history have more people enjoyed a higher standard of living, food security, longer and richer lives, access to communication and information, diverse experiences and life choices.
As for food security, let me cite a paragraph from 'worldhunger.org' in opposition to the assertion of the above statement:
"The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people, or one in eight people in the world, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties. There are 16 million people undernourished in developed countries."
The estimate that 1/8 of all humans on the face of the planet are suffering from undernourishment is rather staggeringly against the idea that our food security is the best it has ever been in the history of our species. It is, indeed, true; what we refer to as developed countries have a rather decent rate of food security: however, the nations we disparagingly call the threshold nations, or developing nations...are not so fortunate.
longer and richer lives
The first part is a provable statistic; which, as far as I know, is only true in the first world developed nations; there are many cases to support that the life expectancy of nations in the global south has diminished sharply in the past century. The second part, 'richer lives' is, I believe, subjective in nature. I find gardening enriching to my life, I could have easily done that in many eras of human history.
access to communication and information
I would like to begin, in refuting this statement, to say that I don't entirely disagree with you. If you live in the United States, or France, or any advanced nation, your access to communication and information is likely much greater than it ever has been at any point in the entirety of human history. However, if you live in Cuba, your access to communication may be a bit more limited than those living in the developed Western world. This is a debatable statement, considering a great portion of the world's population live in conditions quite dissimilar to those that we fine gentlemen here discussing them enjoy. Many of them don't have access to modern forms of technological communication.
The same goes for information; many people in the world hear only what their propagandists tell them. In the United States, my own country, I can easily make the case that the mass populace is, in fact, deprived of essential information. There is a documented, open, systematic propaganda system that seeks to shift the focus of affairs from relevant issues to more intangible fancies. I think this is quite secondary to the debate at hand, so I will not go into great detail; if you wish, you can ask and I will elaborate on my opinion.
diverse experiences and life choices.
Again, if you live in Maryland, this may be true. If you're one of the hundreds of millions that face starvation, this is less true.
At no point in history was humanity as well-educated as it is today, nor were the moral standards guiding it as high. Violence at all levels (inter-personal, by small groups all the way to wars, as well as violence against women, children, minorities and animals) is at a historic low.
I will note, firstly, that we have redefined what 'war' is in the United States. We have an entire category of military action known as, 'military operations other than war' which, by the Oxford dictionary definition; qualify as war. The statistics guiding this assertion may be flawed, though I will have to do an amount of research before I make the accusation. However, I can safely assure you that at almost no point in the post-World War II period, has there been a pax universalis. At any given decade you can point to actions that the larger imperial powers of the planet have taken to eradicate untold amounts of innocents. There have been more genocides in this past century than at any point in human history before now; there have been greater casualties than in any period before now. I will say, however, that there is a large gap in intellectual literature concerning this due to the imperial nature of education. We are disciplined to not speak about the policies of ours that murder millions.
Education is an interesting point, education is largely a tool of indoctrination. It can be used, obviously, as a tool to enlighten humans and to aid them in their pursuit of diverse and fulfilling knowledge that raises their standard of morals. However, our education is anything but moral. How many of the children of my generation were taught that the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans was a sound and moral practice? How many of my generation were taught that we were carrying out humanitarian efforts in our countless interventions? How many of us were taught that national security precludes peace?
At no point in history (perhaps since the stone age) have humans lived in cleaner environment
I assume by 'environment' in the context of this sentence that you are referring to hygiene and the environment of living spaces, not the global environment. If you are referring to or including the natural environment, I would reverse your assertion. At no point in human history have humans lived in a more filthy, atrocious, or forlorn environment. As to personal hygiene and living conditions; that varies so widely from household to household and from nation to nation that the assertion seems rather dubious. The millions who can't afford food certainly aren't living in the best conditions humanity has ever seen, I would safely assume that hundreds of millions more whom have food don't necessarily have any sort of reasonably clean environment. Again, in this case I will cite examples if need be. It isn't hard at all to find data to support these statements of mine, as I find they are unfortunately, most true.
with cheaper access to energy and other natural resources.
This is a fair example of precisely what I was talking about in my original post. The access to our resources is cheap...what does that imply? That we are over-mining, that we are creating an abundance of energy resources. I don't know where you live, but where I live the vast majority of energy resources are fossil fuels. Your statement here is indicative of humanity facing destruction, not of higher human standards of living.
I will admit, I like energy as much as the next man. However, in my own country, the statistics of people who rely on personal transportation in the form of a motor vehicle is staggering. To say they have transportation and this increases their standard of living is true on its face; but it disregards that there are other, vastly more efficient systems that are marginalized or completely neglected in our society. The consumption of fossil fuels is, scientifically, a bad thing for the species. Not just our species, either, the entirety of terrestrial species. The access to energy resources in the form of fossil fuels, therefore, precludes a higher standard of morality. It is not moral to utilize these resources in the fashion that we currently are.
In conclusion, I think that your statements are patently false, and that your perception is naive in that it only takes into account the wealthier nations of the world. These nations are not wealthy by accident or by simple luck, as though fate bestowed upon them some great fortune. These nations are wealthy by imperial dominion over the majority of the Earth, whom they subject to miserable living conditions, working conditions, and generally treat as slaves. I would be glad to elucidate upon this position if you have any doubts of it, I assure you it is the standard for powerful states in history, and it has not changed simply due to the rhetoric being improved.
Our chances of destruction are imminent, not simply rising. I will, if asked, elucidate the number of recorded
events where nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was only narrowly avoided. As for the environment, this is science. There is no debate in the scientific mainstream community that we are facing catastrophic environmental disaster in the future if we continue to consume energy resources (fossil fuels) at the rate we currently are. In support of the statement, it is estimated that consumption of fossil fuels will only rise dramatically in the future; there are very few measures being taken to limit the growth of the market, most are to expand it.
Godstud wrote:The world, and the humans on it, will eventually achieve an equilibrium. Of course, there will be problems until that happens, but no one ever said it'd be easy, or simple.
That said, I do NOT think that humanity is heading towards destruction. There might be some serious renovations and house cleaning, of course.
The future is always uncertain, yes; but not all things are uncertain in what is thus called the 'foreseeable future'. For example, if I start rolling a ball down a hill, I can foresee it will continue rolling of it's own kinetic momentum. There are some aspects of human society and global condition that are no less apparent than this example. It is apparent, by repeated observation and predictions proved true; that we are facing environmental catastrophe. It is apparent that the human population on the Earth is rising at an exponential rate. It is known that there is limited arable land and limited resources. Currently we have room to grow, say, for another three or four billion inhabitants. However, this supposition presupposes that we have a socialist world government wherein all arable land is cultivated and we distribute the produce of this cultivation equally among the members of the race.
Your statement, calling for equilibrium, is a call for the massacre of the majority of the world's population. House cleaning is...what? To find equilibrium in an imbalanced system of consumption one of two things must occur: Either we must limit the consumption of our resources by the parties that are consuming them; or we must reduce the parties that are consuming them to maintain some semblance of equilibrium. So either we severely slow or stop using fossil fuels, for instance; or we kill off the majority of the world and use the remaining resources for ourselves. This applies to food, after a certain population level is reached, as well. There are limits to what we can produce, and even now; when we over-produce food, much of the world is malnourished. So what equilibrium is there?
I'm not saying it's hopeless, mind you, and I don't mean to ridicule your point; I simply find it overly optimistic when it has no cause to be. Given the history of humanity, our current state of affairs, and our foreseeable future; this issue is fairly certain: We are headed towards a mass dying event the likes of which humanity has never experienced.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. - Voltaire