Did you know that the world today is the most peaceful it has ever been in modern human history? Well, despite what those who profit from fear may want us to believe, its true… we are indeed living in a time of peace. The world has been getting more and more peaceful every day for quite some time.
A comprehensive study by the Human Security Center at the University of British Columbia found that “the number of armed conflicts has declined by more than 40 percent since 1992”. This same study also shows how, after five decades of inexorable increase, “the number of genocides and violent conflicts dropped rapidly in the wake of the cold war”. As well “wars are not only less frequent today, they are also far less deadly.”
We are truly fortunate to be part of this generation. Not only are we becoming more peaceful, we are also becoming more prosperous. Up until the 1800′s, the vast majority of us lived in moderate to extreme poverty, and our average life expectancy was 30 years. Now, just 200 years later, only 20 percent of us live in extreme poverty, and the average life expectancy in our world is 70 years.
It is no coincidence that we have more peace and more prosperity, for the two walk hand in hand. As we eliminate poverty from our world, we will be removing a root grievance that leads many people to take up arms – meaning a world without extreme poverty is a world much closer to having a lasting peace.
The phenomenon responsible for such vast improvements over the past two centuries is something we like to call the Snowball Effect, and it refers to how, much like a snowball rolling down a snowy hill, the movement towards a better world has been gaining speed and size with every step.
As we can see in the graphic, gains in any of these key factors leads to a better world, which in turn, makes it easier for us to achieve gains in all the other factors.
To see a real world example of the snowball effect in action, we can look at a case involving a Kenyan farmer named John. John’s life changed when he was introduced to an ingenious device called the MoneyMakerPlus. The MoneyMakerplus is a low-cost, manually powered water pump, designed by a Nairobi based non profit group called KickStart.
John’s land used to be sparse and dry, for he relied on a bucket to water his crop. Now, thanks to his affordable water pump, he sees a seven fold increase in his crop yield. 45,000 others have bought a MoneyMakerPlus, and many, like John, have seem dramatic improvements to their farms.
In this example, we can see many of the factors of the snowball effect at play. The group who designed the pump – KickStart – are people helping to improve the world. The MoneyMakerPlus is the fruit of some advanced engineering, which comes thanks to improved education. The result is cheaper, better technology. This technology, in turn, improves agricultural yields.
Thanks to the surplus crops, farmers like John can now afford a better education for their children and an improved quality of life. For those who’ve been given a way out of the trap of extreme poverty, we can see a real surge of hope and optimism. The same holds true for the people working to improve the world – they get to see that their efforts really can work.
While John and the MoneyMakerPlus may highlight how the snowball effect works, it certainly is not an isolated case. Everywhere around the world, every single one of us have been gaining access to better tools, new resources, more information… all of which will give us the power to become more productive. We will get more out of our days and more from our labor.
To those of us who already live in a developed nation, this might not be an overwhelming improvement, but to the 20 percent of the human race – the 1.4 Billion people who still live in extreme poverty – the snowball effect will show dramatic improvements to their quality of life. It will mean they are no longer starving to death, or getting sick from easily preventable diseases, and to them, this will be life-changing.
And for everyone on earth, the snowball effect will mean that we get to enjoy living in a world that is consistently improving. Eventually, thanks to our cyclically improving world, we will reach the point to where we’ve eradicated extreme poverty, eliminated institutionalized war, and ushered in a new age of equality, peace and prosperity.
With each passing day, our world improves faster than the day before. A better world is coming… believe it.