There are moments when bad news piles up like a snowdrift and it becomes impossible to dispute that the world is doomed. This is one of those moments.
The earth is cooking: Last year was the hottest ever recorded, resulting in global weather weirdness such as devastating Mississippi River floods in December. Stock markets are plunging: The Dow has lost 1,700 points, almost 10%, in three weeks, reflecting deepening fears of multiple economic woes, such as… China is slowing: Its economy grew last year at its slowest pace in 25 years and, as my Fortune colleague Scott Cendrowski points out, the official growth numbers are almost certainly exaggerated. Oil is falling: The rout continues, with prices now around $26, and while that may be an eventual economic benefit for many countries, it’s an immediate problem for the world economy. It’s one reason why… Global growth is disappointing: The World Bank recently cut its forecast of 2016 global growth, and most other forecasters are doing the same. And as if all that weren’t bad enough… Bernie Sanders is surging: He leads Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and maybe in Iowa, propelled in part by fantasyland economic proposals that would stop any growth the U.S. economy has left in it.
Depressed yet? I detail this catalog of misery because part of a leader’s job is to offer hope, which seems almost impossible at the moment. Yet it can be done. We just need to lift our gaze from today’s news and look at the slightly bigger picture. Among the things you may notice, chosen at random and in no particular order:
-The developed world—the U.S., the European Union, and Japan—stopped using more energy just before the last recession. Their economies have grown since then (if not terribly fast), but they haven’t used more energy. This is unprecedented in world history.
-The world’s people are better off than they used to be. In the developed countries we’re focused on stagnant wages, missing the larger reality that billions of people have risen from incredibly miserable poverty in the past 20 years. There’s a long way to go, but this is astounding progress.
-People are living longer. Yes, the trend brings problems. But on the whole I bet you’d agree that life is good and more of it is better.
-We live in the most peaceful world there has ever been. I realize that sounds crazy, but it’s a fact that Harvard’s Steven Pinker has documented in his brilliant book The Better Angels of Our Nature, which Bill Gates has called “the most important book of the decade.”
-Pretty soon we won’t have to drive. Maybe you can remember when it was fun, but now it’s just dangerous drudgery. Accidents are declining in the U.S. and will fall dramatically as autonomous vehicles take over. And by the way, the U.S. has now gone over five years without even one person dying in a passenger airline accident.
-There are no statistics on this, but the world is certainly more full of creativity, energy, and promise than ever, with more people who are better educated receiving more opportunities to use their abilities.
-And if you insist on something more immediate to cheer you up, consider that on Sunday afternoon we will get to see two of football’s all-time greatest quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, face one another, almost certainly for the last time, in a high-stakes game.
Even at moments like this, the good news is out there if we look for it. And I would even say it outweighs the bad. Cheer up!
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A British inquiry into the death of a former KGB agent who had become a UK intelligence agent found that Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably” approved the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. The suspected assassins, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, remain under Russian protection despite Britain’s attempts to extradite them. The report adds tension to relations between the countries as the West seeks Russian cooperation in fighting ISIS.
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Citrix hired former Microsoft executive Kirill Tatarinov as CEO.
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Two state agencies “feel that some in Flint are taking the very sensitive issue of children’s exposure to lead and trying to turn it into a political football claiming the departments are underestimating the impacts on the populations and particularly trying to shift responsibility to the state…I can’t figure out why the state is responsible except that [then-state treasurer Andy] Dillon did make the ultimate decision so we’re not able to avoid the subject.” —Dennis Muchmore, former chief of staff to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, in an email on Sept. 25, 2015 to the governor and lieutenant governor
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|