Nine Antidotes to Bad News

Right now, it’s tempting for many of us to stick our fingers in our ears and sing, or babble, or just scream when the news comes on. We’re in the midst of a true political crisis, humans have all but wrecked the earth, and North and Saint Kardashian told Kanye that Kim was dead – as a joke. Sinister, right?! But don’t worry, there’s good stuff happening in the world too. We thought you could do with a large dose of positivity this month, so we’ve put together nine antidotes to bad news.

Work is Changing – For the Better

As the people making work wonderful, it would be remiss of us not to begin with good news about the evolution of the workplace. Before the industrial revolution, between 80 and 90% of the world’s population worked in agriculture – and then factories started popping up, and the workforce began to migrate into manufacturing.

Whilst manufacturing was less physically intense than agriculture, it was often intellectually unstimulating. As the 20th century progressed, though, the service sector picked up, and now almost 80% of the population in advanced economic countries work in services ranging from technology to healthcare to arts and entertainment.

And the really good news about the service sector? As well as being generally more emotionally and intellectually fulfilling for most people, it pays better and is less dangerous than agriculture and manufacturing. We’re proud to be part of the worldwide work evolution.

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Women Are Getting Equal

In March we joined the international community to celebrate women in all their glory. It might have been a long time coming and there’s no denying that there’s still a way to go, but it looks like we’re slowly but surely making progress towards a more gender balanced society.

It’s particularly refreshing to see women being actively welcomed into traditionally male dominated roles. EasyJet is one organisation on a mission to become more gender balanced by 2020. 16 year-old Ellie Carter, who recently made history by becoming the UK’s youngest female pilot, is being mentored by EasyJet captain Zoe Ebrey as part of the airline’s initiative to recruit female pilots.

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We Are All Connected

In 1990, the world was introduced to a miracle: The World Wide Web. It’s easy to take this extraordinary beast for granted now that we have it at our fingertips 24/7 – but just 30 years ago it would’ve been impossible to imagine having the answer to any question you could think of in less than a second, or being able to spend face-to-face time with your friend on the other side of the world at a moment’s notice from the comfort of your own living room.

It goes without saying that the internet is also incredibly beneficial to our productivity on every level, and allows us to work anywhere, anytime. By 2020, 52 percent of the world’s population is expected to have online access, pushing its potential for good even further. Granted, it has its downsides – but in general we’re pretty positive that the internet is something to smile about.

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The World is Getting Greener

Climate chaos is big in the news right now, and rightly so – our world is at stake. While the situation is scary to say the least, Nasa satellite images of India and China have recently revealed that in the most literal terms, the world is greener than it was twenty years ago. Some ambitious tree-planting initiatives and intensive agricultural programmes are to thank for this happy change, following a realisation in the 70s and 80s that the loss of vegetation in India and China could have very serious consequences. It just goes to show that when the right action is taken, perilous situations can take a turn for the better.

Our Future is in Good Hands

The climate is in a critical situation – but the kids are determined to do something about it. Greta Thunberg has led an army of schoolchildren in a passionate movement that has swept the world and captured the imagination of all of us, including, we hope, the powerful audience of Greta’s rousing speech at the Un COP24 climate talks in Poland. The promise of change is heavy in the air right here in Brighton and Hove, too. In March we fizzed with pride and anticipation as we watched our young people pounding our streets for the future.

Our Life Expectancy is Longer Than Ever

We can feel proud of the UK for its contribution to breakthrough medical discoveries: we made world headlines recently when a man in London was potentially cured of HIV through a stem cell transplant, and UK company Owlstone Medical is amongst a group of companies investigating screening for early-stage cancer by breathalyser.

The World is at its Most Peaceful

Planet Earth can feel like a dangerous place at the moment, but a quick flick through the history books is a reminder that we’re not so bad off after all. Following a study of conflicts throughout history, Norway’s Peace Research Institute in Oslo has confirmed that the world has become a more peaceful place since the Korean War, with fewer people lost in armed conflicts than ever before.

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Technology has the Potential to Save Us All

Technology is accelerating at a rate never seen before, and there’s a palpable feeling of anxiety in conversations around the future of AI. On the flip side, though, many of us already benefiting massively from the latest socially minded technology, such as Monzo, and we’re in the midst of several health breakthroughs including reversing paralysis with technology and gene therapy 2.0. Tech also has the potential to solve some of our future’s greatest challenges, particularly with regard to the crucial welfare of our planet earth.

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Champions of Positive News are Becoming Mainstream

Modern humans seem to thrive on stories of threat and devastation, perhaps because we’re no longer at immediate risk of being hunted by another animal, so we’re seeking another outlet for our fears. As such, mainstream news tends to report on the bad stuff, because the bad stuff sells. Now though, another rhetoric is emerging. A growing number of scientists, thinkers and reporters are setting out to focus our attention on the good news; and believe it or not, there’s a lot of it.

Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker uses real data in his latest book Enlightenment Now to prove that we’re living in better times than ever and argue for an optimistic future; and Hans Rosling’s Factfulness, published posthumously by his son and daughter-in-law, presents the facts to help us think clearly about the world. On a smaller but equally happy scale, Emily Coxhead’s The Happy Newspaper delivers regular celebrations of good in the world with cheerful news stories and sunshiney illustrations both online and in print. If you’re ready for a dose of hard positivity, turn your attention to these smiley pioneers.

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