Another Drop September 2019
The United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is pleased to invite you to its next free, public lecture!
Why Almost Everything (Including Progress on Water and Sanitation) is Better Than We Think it is
In an era of seemingly constant bad news and predictions of imminent or future disastrous outcomes for humanity, it is necessary to step back and look at the dramatic improvements in almost everything that have happened during our history. Using United Nations and other sources of data, such a perspective shows immense improvements in the economy, life expectancy, birth rates, population growth, child and maternal deaths, infectious diseases and health, nutrition and food safety, the environment, accidental deaths and general safety and happiness (in many, but not all, countries). After a general survey of these improvements, the state of water and sanitation around the world will be examined.
There are obvious problems still to be dealt with, but a historical perspective gives grounds for a cautious optimism. This pessimism is not new. A 19th century politician summarized it well when he said that “We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason........ on what principle is it then, that we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” Thomas Macaulay, (1830) English politician and author (History of England) 1800 to 1859.