Nicholas Kristof: The world is better off than we think

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“I wish education were more fairly allocated in the US, but especially globally, the degree to which more kids have access to education, that gives me hope,” says Nicholas Kristof. Photo from Shutterstock

Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times is all about human rights, women’s rights, health, and human affairs.  Annually, he has written that every year is better than the one before. But, he concedes, last year was different. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was “definitely a setback,” initially creating economic chaos and feeding what Kristof calls “our cognitive bias toward bad news.” He says that’s made things appear “much worse than they really are,” but that there’s still good news if you set out to find it.  

For example, he asks, “What’s worse for any parent than losing a child?” It turns out that childhood mortality dropped 25% from when Kristof was born in 1959 to just 4% today. At the same time, indexes show that global poverty is on the decline. 

As for climate change, the cost of alternative fuels has been dropping fast, and Kristof sees “enormous advancements” in clean-energy technologies.  He points out that the same human species that developed nuclear weapons has now shown the ability to master nuclear fusion for clean energy, alongside other forms of clean technology developing concurrently. 

That’s not to say Kristof is encouraging complacency in the face of all the threats we must be aware of. What he hopes to develop is “a sense of what we can accomplish if we understand what is possible.”




Warren Olney


Andrea Brody