Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reasons for Optimism VIII

1. The number of people imprisoned in the US has been falling since 2008.

2. More cars were sold in 2012 than any other year since the recession began, and sales grew 13% over 2011, more than in any year since 1984.

3. Audi is showing off technology that would allow a car to autonomously find a parking spot within a parking garage and park itself. No word yet on when this will be available for consumers, but a garage-only feature like this might circumvent some of the legal grey areas with autonomous cars, at least in privately-owned garages.

4. The Earth is getting greener. And I don't mean humans are becoming more environmentally-conscious; I mean the physical Earth is literally greener, as measured by satellites, because there's more plants. There are two reasons plants are growing more: higher temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels. This is a another piece of evidence that climate tends to have stable equilibria.

5. Fully 64 new supplies of energy have been discovered in Africa in the past five years, and the pace seems to be picking up (ht). When combined with the previously-featured GravityLight, Africa is on track to save millions of lives in the coming years.

6. The incredible exponential growth of US oil production continues. We are now producing seven million barrels per day for the first time since March 1993.

7. More than two-thirds of Americans are optimistic about their own economic situation in 2013. On the other hand, nearly two-thirds are pessimistic about the economy as a whole. If you believe in Hayek's local knowledge, this is a great reason to feel optimistic about the economy as a whole (though perhaps pessimistic about the media's portrayal of it).

8. Herbert E. Meyer, who is called "the official who predicted communism's demise," says the good news that nobody is noticing is the global rise of the middle class (ht). In a recent interview [mp3] with Jerry Bowyer, Meyer says, "When you stand back from all the yelling and the screaming…you can see what I believe is the most important trend in the word…the world is emerging from poverty fast. ... Each year between fifty and one hundred million human beings are leaving poverty behind. ... By the way, it’s going to be a five billion-person middle class. This will become the most powerful force in the world. Their demand for our goods and services will set off an economic boom…I believe that we’re heading for not just a sonic boom, but maybe a supersonic boom."

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