2018 is almost officially over, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s one for the history books. For too many, things went horribly wrong. Or so the general consensus seems to be.
And yet, there are plenty of silver linings as well. All you need to do is shift your focus and things suddenly become much brighter.
So, with let’s have a look at everything that went right for a change, courtesy of Quartz.
1. The share of global energy reached new records
Yes, carbon emissions are set to rise this year over last. We need a steep decline in greenhouse-gas emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change, so the fact that we’ve yet to even flatline is more than troubling. On the other hand, there has been some good news. According to the International Energy Agency, the world got nearly 25% of its electricity from renewables in 2017, and that number should jump to 30% within the next few years (note: even though all graphs were announced this year, some of the numbers refer to previous ones because it can take up to 2 years to collect and crunch all the data).
2. Environmental protection for the world’s oceans
Some 6.7 million additional sq km (2.6 million sq miles) of the world’s oceans were put under environmental protection. The majority of that is in national waters, meaning more countries are actively assisting in the global ocean conservation project. (About 260,000 sq km of land were also added.)
3. 50 animal species are no longer endangered
Over 50 animal species are no longer endangered or threatened thanks to efforts to save them–some of them from surprising sources. Such was the case with the lesser long-nosed bat, which was delisted thanks largely to the efforts of tequila producers, whose agave plants the bats feed on.
4. Global poverty is falling
It can be hard to assess global poverty rates, since context can vary dramatically. One way to look at it is by comparing the difference between what the average person makes a day, and the global poverty line of $1.90 a day (as determined by the World Bank). Based on that measure, global poverty is falling.
5. More people have access to electricity
Electricity is essential to health, education, and general satisfaction. According to new data released this year, 87% of people around the world now have access to electricity.
6. Global adult literacy rate keeps increasing
Here’s one of particular interest to us. Literacy rates have been steadily climbing for decades now, and though it seems incremental, even a fraction of a percentage point can make a huge difference. Considering there are some 5.5 billion adults alive today, the 0.23 percentage-point increase from 2015 to 2016 (the last year for which data are available) means about 11.5 million more people can read.
7. Global health keeps improving
Probably the biggest invisible improvements the world sees year to year are essential indicators of overall global public health, like rates of infant mortality, maternal mortality, childhood stunting, and teen pregnancy. These are important because they represent access the average person alive has to health care professionals, facilities, medicine, and more. All of these rates have been falling in the past few decades, in some cases dramatically. The next set of graphs reflect such changes.
8. Gender gap is nearly closed
Another positive trend that can fly under the radar, especially in wealthier countries, is how the global gender gap in education continues to close. New data published this year show that, in 2016, there were 99.7 girls enrolled in primary and secondary school for every 100 boys. For comparison, in 1986 that number was 85.1.
9. More women in government
The 2018 US elections resulted in a historic new class of congressional representatives: at least 121 women will serve in Congress starting next year, accounting for just under 23% of Congress members. This brings the US in line with the global trend, in which women’s share of government seats passed 23% in 2016, and rose to nearly 24% in 2017.
Let’s hope the new year sees more of the good stuff and less of the bad one and that it’s your best one yet!