The state of the world

The state of the world

Read an article about the state of the world to practise and improve your reading skills.

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If your view of the world comes from watching the news and reading newspapers, you could be forgiven for lying awake at night worrying about the future. Apparently, rising violence and population rates mean humans are both killing each other in ever larger numbers and being born at rates the world's resources can't sustain. To make matters worse, all the wealth is concentrated on a handful of people in the world's richest countries. People in low-income countries live in poverty while the West gets richer. Depressing, isn't it?

But do the statistics support our negative world view or is the world actually improving?

Let's take global population first. It's around 7 billion now, in line with figures predicted by the UN in 1958. By the year 2100, the same experts predict it will be around 11 billion. But did you know that 11 billion is probably as high as that number will get? The rate of increase will slow down in the second half of this century thanks to falling birth rates today.

Falling birth rates? Yes, that's right.

In the last two centuries, improvements in technology and health meant fewer children died young, fuelling rapid population growth. These large families produced even more children who survived into adulthood and had their own children. But with the wider availability of contraception in the 1960s, the global average number of babies per woman has declined from six babies per woman to as low as two.

The biggest factor in child mortality is poverty. And while it's still true that only 20 per cent of the world takes about 74 per cent of the world's income, 60 per cent of the world now falls into a middle-income group, with 11.6 per cent – the smallest amount of people in history – still living in conditions of extreme poverty. If the majority of the world's people have money, international aid could realistically achieve the UN target of eradicating poverty by 2030. As poverty goes down, life expectancy goes up, birth rates go down because parents can expect their existing children to survive, and the global population stabilises.

As for news stories that make us think the world is an increasingly violent place, there is cause for some optimism too. Between the end of World War II and 1990, there were 30 wars that killed more than 100,000 people. Today there are still civil wars, but countries are mostly co-existing more peacefully than in the past. However, terrorism has shot up in the last few years and, since World War II, wars have killed many more civilians than soldiers. Even for civilians, though, the statistics are not all bad. Although deaths are nine times more likely to be a result of violent crime than political conflict, the global murder rate fell slightly, from 8 per 100,000 people in 2000 to about 5.3 in 2015.

Of course, none of this means the world is perfect, and whether you personally are affected by war and poverty is often down to the lottery of where you're born. Also, we still face huge problems of our own making, particularly environmental ones like global warming, and wealth and natural resources need to be distributed more fairly. But not all the news is bad news, whatever the TV and newspapers might say.

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Submitted by Max Watt on Wed, 30/12/2020 - 18:50

By 2100, are we really going to survive? Maybe for some people. But with all the problems we're dealing with (global warming, pollution, COVID-19 crisis, destruction of the biodiversity...) right now, I don't think so. You may have guessed, I'm clearly not optimistic. By 2100, if the world's population rate stabilize, we would be approximately 9 billion people. 9 billion humans! Can't you see how much are we going to be? We would need two Earth to feed the whole population. Besides, the amount of natural resources on Earth is decreasing so fast that it can't produce a sufficient quantity for a sustainable future, right? If we don't make drastic changes, our future wouldn't be good-looking.

Submitted by cristianj.munozb on Fri, 27/11/2020 - 03:50

Well, currently the World has got a lot of problems anywhere, it doesn’t matter if you are living in a rich country or in a “third world” one, the problems are in the world and we have to resolve the problems of our home, I want to say, the richest countries have their own problems, the economy, the crime, the violence, the corruption, the global warming, the level of the sea, the deforestation, the shortage, the pandemic, the poverty, the unemployment, the resources, the war, and any other problems, but, in the poor and developing countries, the problems are the same, but they seem to be larger, I think it could be for the people’s life condition, I am sure that the rich countries only have more important problems that the rest of the countries. I am optimistic, although there are many problems, we can solve them, we have to join in one world family to do this, it isn’t easy, but is possible; the solution is first in ourselves, each activity or anything that we can do to improve our condition and the context where we live, is an important step to solve the world problems, we only have to try to make change. Please, just try!!!

Submitted by Rush on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 14:49

Thank you Peter for holistic explanation and clear example.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 14:08

I think I'm not so pessimistic, because we have abilities to adopt ourselves in a pessimistic situation.... ;)

Submitted by Abdulhadi94 on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 09:37

How optimistic are you about the world? I am very optimistic about the future world for many reasons . First reason is that people will hopefully receive the pure and clean water easily especially people who lives in poor countries. Such as, Africa where it is hard to get it right now . Second thing that makes me positive are people fight for peace all around the world which could reflect positively on our life . Last and not least , the world comes as one country. What i mean is that , wherever you live right now you will feel that you are in your home

Submitted by UK01 on Fri, 10/07/2020 - 18:09

Frankly,ı can't say ı am optimistic for future's world due to our constant consumption and losing our cultures and tradions because of globalization.As ı empahised in first matter,we would prefer consume than produce ,most of people lives for today.They don't think of future by thinking possible problems we could have.On the other hand,we have a few things to be hopeful for future such as renewable energy resourches and other great things technlogy could provide us in the future.But as ı said that it is not certain,they may also have bad effects on us.Like the effect of nuclear power in humanity.In the beginning,human being was so hopeful for the projects regarding with the positive possiblle effects of nuclear power.They thought that ıt could be so useful to fulfil world's energy need.But it was not used for the things it had been produced for,it was a dissapointing for mankind,All we had behind nuclear power were waste of money,and more importantly.lots of civilians killed because of errors in nuclear plants mistakenly and bombing to take an adventage among we can not foresee what will happen in the future.but we can do something for our world such as reduction in consumption and increase in production without forgetting to think of what our invents could cause.

Submitted by Giulia B on Sat, 04/07/2020 - 10:23

I believe that this long time of lockdown has reminded us that the earth is our home and that, first and foremost, we should never forget to respect it. It's time people changed habits radically in terms of care for the environment and for developing countries. I really hope for a better world in the near future. My husband and I are trying to do our best to teach our children the importance of living in a sustainable environment, starting from practicing recycling at home, for instance. If we all do something , in our small reality, we will do big steps toward the right direction.

Submitted by wawl234 on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 11:44

Even though there are lots of problems, I'm trying to be optimistic because I can also be a part of this solution -everyone can be- and If I don't believe that everything will be better ,I can't try for it and the world can not be better. So although nothing changes, at least I will be done my part in this world.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 20:39

Am very optimistic sooner the world would become a better place for mankinds' inspite of the flaws around it.
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Submitted by amit_ck on Sat, 14/03/2020 - 05:51

“Tea and beer, two of the nation’s favourite drinks, fuelled the revolution.” What does it mean fuelled the revolution here? Power provided the revolution or something else?