Environmentalists scream that we are poisoning the planet yet:
"life expectancy increased from 47 years to 77 years. Onset of major disease such as cancer, heart, and respiratory disease has been postponed between eight and eleven years in the past century. Heart disease and cancer rates have been in rapid decline over the last two decades, and total cancer deaths have actually declined the last two years, despite increases in population. Among the very young, infant mortality has declined from 100 deaths per 1,000 births in 1913 to just seven per 1,000 today."
The article points out that this is a worldwide phenomena - not limited to the US or the West.
Also important is the broadening of freedoms:
"Equally important, the world is more literate and better educated than ever. People are freer politically, economically, and socially to pursue their well-being as they see fit. More people choose their own rulers, and have freedom of expression. They are more likely to live under rule of law, and less likely to be arbitrarily deprived of life, limb, and property. "
I wonder if freedom precedes the economic boom or the other way around - I would guess more freedom comes first. In China, people have been given freedom to start businesses and there is a huge growing middle class, while in Russia, there is much less freedom and no economic boom.
The article also makes an interesting point lost on environmentalists that want to limit economic growth - it is countries with the best economies that can afford to have the best environments. Globalization (another thing both extreme left and right fight against) seems to be responsible for a more rapid transfer of ideas and technology that not only benefits everyone economically but is important in developing countries adopting better environmental controls sooner then we did.
Yes, we still have problems and I don't see the world through rose colored glasses, but I remain an optimist about mankind's ability to solve problems as they arise. We are creative people and Straight Line thinking is counterproductive.