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Reasons for Optimism in the World Around Us

Reasons for Optimism in the World Around Us

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, July 19

I know that talking about optimism these days is not a wise idea, and at a time when inflation rates are rising globally, and supply chains are being disrupted, pessimism has been on the rise. The pandemic and the seemingly endless war in Ukraine spread misery and despair among all of us. However, there are also objective reasons to celebrate the good in our world and positive things that are happening around us. I recently came across an article titled “Why disasters are getting more severe but killing fewer people.” The article, written by Umair Irfan, examines how impacts of climate change – things like high temperatures, floods, fires and natural disasters – have increased by over five-fold in the last 50 years, and yet the number of deaths they have inflicted has fallen by two thirds during the same period of time. This is a remarkable achievement for humankind, which has developed technologies and coping mechanisms to reduce the number of deaths. The article doesn’t cover scientific advances in the fight against COVID-19, but here, too, we’ve made tremendous progress. Following three years of the pandemic, the number of deaths inflicted by COVID-19 is still significantly lower than deaths caused by the Spanish flu a century ago. Indeed, before the end of this year, the population of Earth will exceed eight billion people — a figure that once made experts believe we would run out of resources and food, but today seems entirely reasonable. A study I came across a few years ago indicated that it is possible for all of humanity, nearly seven billion people at the time, to live in the US state of Texas alone. The idea here is that the important thing is that the social, economic and political organization is effective and simple so that it accommodates and organizes people’s lives in a way that makes them exploit physical spaces with great capacity. Furthermore, nanotechnology has enabled us to make things smaller and simpler, making our use of space ever more efficient and effective. Just think of today’s smartphone, which is an order of magnitude “smarter” than the computer that supported the flight of Apollo to the moon, which took over two rooms. By the way, this optimistic outlook also applies to Egypt, where the pandemic didn’t cause a significant increase in death rates. However, pessimism exists because life has become more complicated and the degree of government bureaucracy has become unbearable. In Egypt, the number of laws in our code book reached 68,000 titles. We are subjected to an infinite number of regulations, rules and decrees. At the present time, our legislative institutions are focused on amending existing laws in ways that don’t actually make them simpler. Therefore, in order to allow our people to live happier and more productive lives, our government must simplify employment and production. This will help us boost our productivity and grow our national resources. Now is the time to part ways with complexity and give way to simplification. –Abd Al-Moneim Said (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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