A young woman, Melissa – healthy, educated and anxiety-ridden like many in her 18-to-34 age demographic – told her family this summer that she would never have children saying, “I don’t want to bring a child into this world,” so worried is she about the future.
Apparently, Melissa is not atypical. As well as a falling birthrate, studies show that many Millennials are also turning away from the act of reproduction itself.
Yet, for this young generation, the world and its future is the best and brightest it has ever been. Especially for Canadians, the potential to raise children in such a healthy, safe environment would be the envy of every generation that came before.
There has never been a better time to be alive and to be looking forward, despite what one so often sees in the media or on social networks.
A University of Oxford study by Max Roser, the founder of Our World in Data, is among the recent research that should be bedtime reading for our angst-plagued youth. It confirms that they are living in a world where poverty is being eradicated, education is nearly universal, food is more abundant than ever, the majority of people live in a democracy, resources are abundant and society is richer than at any time in history.
Here are some of Roser’s findings, which are verified by the United Nations and other august bodies: life expectancy has increased 33 per cent in the past 50 years and has never been higher; global infant mortality rates have declined 66 per cent in the past half-century; literacy rates around the world have soared and have now reached at least 86 per cent; and the global population “time bomb” is no longer ticking. Experts say it will peak within two decades and then slowly decline.
And the planet is getting greener.
According to 2019 research published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the “global green leaf”coverage has increased by 5 per cent in the past 20 years, equivalent to all of the Amazon rainforests.
There are substantial oil and gas reserves for generations to come, while solar, wind and other low- greenhouse-gas-emitting energy sources are expanding rapidly.
And the world is safer.
We are into the third generation without a war, a near unprecedented phenomenon. “We live in a much more peaceful and inclusive world than our ancestors of the past,” Roser concluded.
Millennials, take an encouraging word from your elders.
“We are the luckiest people to have ever lived on this planet,” commented Simon Fraser University gerontology professor Andrew Sixsmith. “It’s an unprecedented period in history, so let’s make the most of it.”
So, yes, Melissa, there is a better, more vibrant world ahead. Enjoy it with your children.