Coffee House

The biggest shocker of 2013? That it really is a wonderful world

28 December 2013

9:42 AM

28 December 2013

9:42 AM

Next year marks a millennium since the sermon given in 1014 by Archbishop Wulfstan in York where he declared that “the world is in a rush and is getting close to its end.” Ever since, people (especially clergy) have had a similar story to tell: the world is moving too fast, people are too selfish and things are going to the dogs. The truth is that the world is in a better shape now than any time in history – a claim which may sound bizarre, but it’s borne out by the facts.

I was on LBC radio earlier, discussing the leading article in the Spectator Christmas special which explained why 2013 was the best year in human history. Never has the world been wealthier, never has the growth been more fairly distributed.


What is going wrong with the world is vastly outweighed by what is going right. And the run of depressing news stories can actually blind us to the greatest story of our age: we really are on our way to making poverty history. Thanks to the way millions of people trade with each other, via a system known by its detractors as global capitalism.

It’s a story that no one organisation or government can take credit for – and a story that doesn’t particularly suit anyone’s agenda. But the story is there, for those with an eye to see it.

PS And for anyone interested in this general idea, I can heartily recommend two things. One is a subscription to the Spectator (we’re extending our Christmas deal, our best-ever offer). The other is a short book that explained it all to me – and changed my mind about a lot of things (and one I still give as a present to friends) : In Defence of Global Capitalism by Johan Norberg.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • nikkkom

    The lack of freedom and astronomical amount of money stolen by corrupt rulers in third world is probably the largest problem today.

    Think about it. Third world people aren’t much dumber than ones from developed world. They can be rich too (Japan and Germany proved it takes less than 30 years to go from total devastation to prosperity); but their Presidents-for-life et al. just rob them of 90% or more of generated wealth; and beat down anyone who tries to stop that.

  • Chris Thomas

    Calm before the storm my friends, calm before the storm.

  • pp22pp

    Overpopulation is not a myth. We are running low on lots of things for which we are finding it difficult to find replacements,especially tin and copper. Take a trip to Western Europe, Japan or China and see for yourself. The bits of the planet that are habitable are seething. Making the Sahara habitable would require vast resources – which are, believe it or not finite.

    Distributing bulk items like food and fuel takes energy.

    97% of scientists agree? Bad statistics! Before you can throw out a statistic like that you would need to decide exactly who is and is not qualified and then either canvass the hole lot of them or choose a representative sample. No one ever has.

    No. A lot of the most vociferous “scientists” are nothing of the sort and seek to deny funding and work to those who disagree.

    If you really believe that people are responsible for climate variation, why are you not more concerned about the destruction of the rain forests. They are a huge carbon sink.

    • dodgy

      …Overpopulation is not a myth. We are running low on lots of things for which we are finding it difficult to find replacements,especially tin and copper…

      No we’re not. This myth was comprehensively disproven in the 1970s by Julian Simon. Get a bit more up-to-date…

      • pp22pp

        My knowledge is very up-to-date.
        Julian Simon is ages ago. Most of what he said was spot on. Human ingenuity has been very good at finding replacements for some of the things were we running low on like rare earths, but tin is a problem.
        I am also completely away that Michael Mann was a liar. You need a minimal knowledge of geology to know that. I suspect AGW is hogwash.
        But simple logic dictates that sooner of later finite resources must run out.
        If you don’t mind living in an overpopulated slum, move to Bangladesh. the cost of living is really low.

        • dodgy


          Why do you think that tin is currently a problem? It is half the price that it has been in the 1970s, and it is just currently recovering after a decade of really low prices caused by the collapse of the world regulating body when Brazil and China came online and flooded the market. See

          The current price recovery is driven quite strongly by regulation – primarily the substitute of tin for lead in solder for no particularly good reason and because tin production is small this has had quite an impact. All I see are expected market fluctuations and no indication that we are facing a crisis.

          The mere fact that a discovery is old is not a reason to decry it – rather the opposite. We do not ignore gravity because both Newton and Einstein are historical. Simon pointed out that ‘Resources’ equal ‘Raw Materials’ plus ‘Human Ingenuity’ – and while raw materials may run out, human ingenuity won’t. Note that Simon pointed out that not only do humans find new ways of obtaining scarce raw materials, they can also quite easily substitute one item for another and develop entirely new products. If tin were to suddenly become (magically) completely unavailable I do not think that it would cause much disruption at all – we would simply go back to lead solders and use plastic coating on ‘tins’. And that’s without allowing for any new breakthrough.

          The key point to make is that humanity has NEVER collapsed through ‘lack of raw materials’. To think that this will happen is a Malthusian myth. Simon pointed out that, as humanity expands, each generation lives a better life than its predecessor and that, in reality, life keeps on getting better in spite of our continual belief that it’s just about to get worse…

          • pp22pp

            I live in New Zealand. We have clean air and open spaces. That’s worth a lot.
            Things like tin, copper, scandium and God knows what else only form in quite specific circumstances. The planet is not full of them. There has to come a point when we run out.
            Japan used to be a massive source of silver and copper. It’s all gone. Britain used to supply tin and copper. It’s all gone. Rare earths form in one specific kind of pegmatite. Most of what is available is in China. There are also major deposits in Greenland. Then what? What happens if new technologies down the line need these materials. Do we really want to leave nothing to the next generation?
            With all the Jamaican gang-bangas and single muvvas having all the kids, human ingenuity could also turn out to be a finite resource.
            Palaeontology and evolution are also part of geology. Human beings are subject to the laws of evolution. The welfare state and massive foreign aid have created an environment I call survival of the dumbest. The population of the world adds ninety million a year. That’s China every 15 years and it’s not the bright ones having all those kids.
            Human intelligence is a rare commodity and it formed under quite specific circumstances.
            The planet is not infinite. I don’t care what Julian Simon says.

            P.S. This is a serious question. Could you recommend a good textbook on advanced statistics?

            • dodgy

              …With all the Jamaican gang-bangas and single muvvas having all the kids, human ingenuity could also turn out to be a finite resource…..The welfare state and massive foreign aid have created an environment I call survival of the dumbest. The population of the world adds ninety million a year. That’s China every 15 years and it’s not the bright ones having all those kids.
              Human intelligence is a rare commodity and it formed under quite specific circumstances.
              The planet is not infinite. I don’t care what Julian Simon says.

              I don’t know if it’s intentional, but this outburst comes across as casually racist and willfully ignorant.

              A suitable advanced book for you on statistics would depend greatly on which area you wanted to learn about. I suspect, for instance, that you would not be interested in reading Prof. Ian Jolliffe on Principle Component Analysis? If you are interested in historical resource availability across the population of the planet, then there are few people better than Prof. Julian Simon, who has made the study of this subject his life’s work. “The Philosophy and Practice of Resampling Statistics” might be of interest? Or his “Economics of Population: Key Modern Writings”?

              However, if you “do not care what Julian Simon says”, I suspect that you will not learn much from them….

              • pp22pp

                Racism, schmacism. Fill the country full of Congolese and you won’t get much scientific innovation

                • dodgy

                  The business analyst Julian Simon was a (much) better economist than Watson. And we are talking about economics here. Are racial characteristics some kind of obsession that you try to get into every discussion?

            • dodgy

              …Things like tin, copper, scandium and God knows what else only form in quite specific circumstances. The planet is not full of them. There has to come a point when we run out.
              Japan used to be a massive source of silver and copper. It’s all gone. Britain used to supply tin and copper. It’s all gone. Rare earths form in one specific kind of pegmatite. Most of what is available is in China. There are also major deposits in Greenland. Then what? What happens if new technologies down the line need these materials. Do we really want to leave nothing to the next generation?…

              This leaves me deeply confused.

              You can divide world resources up into ‘renewable’ and ‘fixed’ resources. Renewable resources are constantly renewed. Fixed resources are just that – fixed. They do not get destroyed. They can not run out. If there are 100 tonnes of tin in the world there will ALWAYS be 100 tonnes of tin in the world. It can’t be ‘all gone’. How would you destroy it?

              Where do you get the idea that Japan was ever a massive source of silver and copper? It’s rather famous as always having been pretty devoid of all natural resources.

              In particular I can’t understand your idea that somehow, if one generation uses something, then another generation can’t have it. And your strange idea that technologies might spring up and then suddenly realise: “Oh, we can’t actually run this factory because we haven’t got any unobtanium. Better send the workers home…”

              Take gold as an example. Gold was probably deposited in the Earth’s crust by meteorites. In pre-classical times there were ingots resting on the ground, where they had been exposed by erosion. Are you seriously suggesting that they should have been left there so that we could use them? Are you seriously suggesting that the iron ore, coal and limestone in the UK should have been left there by the early iron-masters so that our later generation could smelt it? If so, how would we have gained the iron-working skills that we have now?

              Each generation should make the maximum use of all the resources it has. It is using these resources to the limit of human ingenuity which allows humanity to advance over the generations. It is because someone dug coal and iron ore by hand out of a Lancashire pit in the 1700s that we were able to use a steam engine, later a petrol one and then a jet, allowing you to reap the benefits of a global economy. And allowing us, incidentally, to develop new ways of finding coal and iron ore, and new ways of using them.

              Fixed resources on this planet are NOT held in some kind of larder-like provisions mechanism, where one child might gather all the red lollipops and leave none for anyone else. If I try to push that analogy closer to the truth, the ‘lollipops’ would have to be endless ones that never ran out, and the action of getting them would generate access to more shelves in the larder, holding not only more lollipops, but all manner of other foods. I would rather that the children before me had obtained as much as they were able, so as to provide a wider set of options for me. I, in turn, will use as much resource as I can to ensure a far better future for my grandchildren…

              • pp22pp

                You were saying the world is not overpopulated. I think it is.
                Look up CR Boxer on Japan as a source of copper and silver. It and Peru drove the world economy in the seventeenth century. Iron is everywhere, tin isn’t.

                • dodgy

                  Japan as a source of copper and silver. It and Peru drove the world economy in the seventeenth century

                  What has that got to do with anything? The small mines in Japan have been put out of business by vast mines in South America and Australia. There are no shortages.

                  Once you’ve mined something, it can be very difficult to use it again.

                  That is frankly stupid. It’s MUCH easier to use it again. And we do. Any gold item you have could well have passed through Roman hands. By now you’re simply making assertions with no possible way to back them up. And Rare Earths famously aren’t rare…

                  You do not understand the economics and practices of raw material exploitation, and you are making no effort to understand them. Instead you are producing a mixture of anecdote and activist raving. Let us take your example of 100 tonnes of tin – enough for 6 bn but not for 60 bn.

                  That’s 10x less tin per person. So two things happen.

                  1 – processes using tin adapt to using 1/10 of the amount they did previously. Easily possible – look in a tin of tomatoes and you’ll probably find a layer of lacquer or plastic which substitutes some of the tin.

                  2 – the price of tin goes up 10x. Immediately, that means that known deposits of tin which were uneconomic to mine become economic. The world reserves therefore increase at a stroke. It starts to be worth funding tin prospecting, so new deposits stat to come online. And work is done on developing newer automated methods of processing this new resource.

                  Taken together, these effects lower the price of tin below what it was initially, AND produce enough to satisfy demand. I don’t have to prove that – that was proven by Simon in his famous Simon-Ehrlich wager. We have concrete evidence showing that the simple scarcity model is wrong, and yet you continue to put it forward. Why?

                  Your last point is so stupid I won’t bother to address it. Just google the difference between ‘world’ and ‘space’…

    • nikkkom

      The resources are only finite if we don’t extend beyond Earth.

      If we don’t extend beyond Earth, we are as dead as dinosaurs anyways, since Earth won’t be habitable forever.

      If we do extend beyond Earth, even the Solar System alone has vastly more resources than we need in the next many thousands of years.

      And after that, there are about 100 billion other star systems in this galaxy.

  • Brookesia_Micra

    A good year for humans maybe. But not so good for the rest of the species on the planet.

    • Drogoth

      I care about the rest of the planet only insofar as it effects us. Environmental protection is not done for the environment’s sake, it’s done for ours.

      • Brookesia_Micra

        Right, it’s called ecosystem services.

  • Xor

    If it was “capitalism” that made things better than what about capitalism from the 1800s and on? Do those centuries just not count?

  • Andrew Verrijdt

    You’re mostly right but your article completely ignores the evidence about how climate change is going to kick our butts.

    The world really is doing better than ever EXCEPT with regards the environment.

    I’d like to call this Panglossian optimism but ‘optimism’ implies looking to the future and you’re completely ignoring it.

    • Augustus

      It recently snowed in Egypt and in Israel where snow has long been a rarity. Perhaps that’s a sign that the Earth is in what will likely be a lengthy cycle of cooling climate change, rather the lies presented hitherto as ‘evidence’ that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing the planet to become warmer.

      • Andrew Verrijdt

        Actually scientists predicted that as well.

        As the Earth warms (and right now no climatologists doubt that the planet is warming) more moisture evaporates. This means that some areas will experience greater precipitation (rain, snow, hail etc.). This doesn’t mean the warming isn’t happening. It is in fact further evidence that it is happening.

        It’s the difference between a local fluctuation and a global trend.

        One example of this is in the Arctic where one glacier has been growing at a measurable rate (this is often cited by ignorant denialists to argue that global warming isn’t happening) but almost all the others are shrinking at a rapid rate.

        One glacier that is growing doesn’t mean all the others aren’t shrinking.

        And two unusual snow patches doesn’t mean global warming isn’t happening.

        97% of the world’s CLIMATE scientists agree that global warming is happening, that humans are the cause and that we need to do something about it.

        The only people who disagree are the coal, oil and natural gas companies, the politicians they’ve bribed and people who aren’t scientifically literate.

        I urge you to read the science. It is unambiguous.

        • Augustus

          When the surface water of the Earth heats up part of that heat ends up in ocean depths. The mass of the water in the oceans is about 300 times the mass of the air in the atmosphere. The specific heat of water is about four times as large as that of air. That means that the heat capacity of the oceans is about 1200 times that of the atmosphere. The Oceans can absorb enormous amounts of heat without anyone on dry land even noticing. Almost a bottomless sink, in fact, as far as heat is concerned. If all solar heat were to penetrate the seas and oceans without any evaporation whatsoever, and without any melting taking place, the oceans would only heat up, on average, about 0.05 degrees C per century. Melting down of polar ice occurs mainly due to warm sea water drifting under ice flows, especially during Summer. When that happens, and more warm water flows to the Poles, with more Arctic ice melting, the Earth in fact gets colder, because to melt ice requires heat. People assume that if the atmosphere rises by X degrees, ocean waters also rise by X degrees. This is not accurate, at least not within the foreseeable future. Because of their tremendous heat capacity the oceans would be able to last for thousands of years before any lasting atmospheric temperature change became noticeable.

          • Andrew Verrijdt

            Actually that argument is based on old data.

            It’s true that the oceans absorb more heat than the atmosphere does but all this effect has done is HIDE some of the evidence of global warming.

            More recent data has completely disproved your theory because the oceans are actually already warming.

            There was a time when your argument was plausible but climate scientists have comprehensively disproved it.

            • Augustus

              Global warming (the greenhouse effect) is based on the theory that a significant part of the incoming solar heat is radiated into the atmosphere, part of which is radiated back to earth. But, as only a tiny percentage of radiated heat above the seas (which comprise about 70% of the Earth’s surface) is radiated back, any ‘extra’ greenhouse effect above the seas must be negligible. That fact alone, in my opinion, must call the global warming theory into question. The presence of such large amounts of water play an extremely important role in the climate of planet Earth. All that water ensures that warmth is spread widely over the Earth’s surface, and it also ensures thermal stability. Changes in the intensity of solar radiation, or any temperature changes in the atmosphere, are largely muted by the oceans’ presence, making any additional greenhouse effect above the seas virtually insignificant.

              • Andrew Verrijdt

                Why would you assume that light hitting the ocean doesn’t get reflected? Have you never seen light shimmer off water? That’s reflected energy from the son, by definition.

                Secondly, why would you say that the rest “must” be negligible? There is no evidence that this is true and lots of evidence that it is false.

                Lastly, just because seas tend to spread warming around (in exactly the same way that air or any other medium does) does not mean that the warming isn’t happening.

                The heat of a hot bath is evenly distributed, but that doesn’t make the bath any colder.

          • GBR

            Sea level has risen about 8 inches over the last century and is currently rising at about 3mm per year, which is faster than 50 years ago. Most sea level experts expect that rate to continue to accelerate.

            About half of that rise is due to thermal expansion of the oceans, so you are right that the oceans have the ability to absorb a lot of heat. But one affect of that is sea level rise. They have been expanding and will continue to expand as long as heat is added (plus whatever comes from melting ice).
            The extra foot or so of sea level near New York City probably added several hundred million dollars to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and has prompted the City of New York to propose a $20+B project to protect against future, higher storm surges. That’s pretty big money.

        • dodgy

          …I urge you to read the science…

          I did. It was rubbish, and frequently didn’t prove the points it was making. Most Climate Change papers seem to write the conclusions first, and then make up any old rubbish for the data.

          Incidentally, what could possibly DISPROVE the AGW hypothesis? Nothing? I thought so…

    • Owen Spedding

      With global warming, even if what all the scientists, whose livelihoods depend on global warming/climate change theorising, are true then there is little point preaching to the West. We lost our position as the world’s makers a while back – go and speak to the developing world about it – they grow 5 to 10% a year we barely grow at all.

      Climate Change pessimism is so strong that it is apparently so inevitable that unless we all voluntarily return to the stone age it’s going to happen anyway so we may as well go forward with a skip in our step about all the other wonderful things in the world and hope for the best. A pragmatic attitude about reducing waste, taking advantage of renewable energy where it is cost effective, and conserving the environment we can see and feel around us will get us further than quasi-religious anti-carbon rubbish.

    • dodgy

      …your article completely ignores the evidence about how climate change is going to kick our butts…

      There isn’t any. There’s a load of scaremongering from committed activists who have already stated that they are happy to lie to achieve their gaols. A lot of them are now stuck in the Antarctic ice because they believed their own propaganda and went down there to show how the ice was melting…

  • rtj1211

    Perhaps you’d like to write one story like this each week, which ensures that people are grounded rather than force-fed scare stories or else?

  • Otto

    Provided you are not one of the billion or so in starving conditions and several billions more merely surviving, and are as hard-hearted as Himmler – yes.

  • Simon_in_London

    “Thanks to the way millions of people trade with each other, via a system known by its detractors as global capitalism.” An increasingly vast swathe of the planet doesn’t actually produce anything to trade, and is maintained by Inter-state welfare known as ‘foreign aid’. Africa is fed by cheap, subsidised grain produced in the USA, allowing populations to explode without famine. Is this really a good thing? We saw the food riots when the US diverted some grain to ethanol production. Eventually the music will stop – either the subsidised food flow will dry up, or the beneficiaries’ populations will exceed the capacity of the flow to sustain them.

    • Daniel Maris

      International development aid was $133 billion in 2011. Even if it ALL went to Africa (not that it does of course) that would amount to about $100 dollars per person. Or about 30 cents a day.

      And I can guarantee you that the vast majority of Africans work far harder than you ever do to keep alive. When you’ve walked ten miles to fetch water, or gone without food for 24 hours, we might treat your comments with some seriousness.

      • pp22pp

        Yes, because we have more productive ways of spending our time than spending all day just scraping by. Africa’s population growth is THE global problem.

        • Andrew Verrijdt

          No, global warming is a much bigger problem.

          Stop reading the news and start reading the science.

          • pp22pp

            I have been trained as a geologist and so I know a little. Geology is a soft science and only covers a small amount of the knowledge you need to cover, but I do know enough about earth history to know that some of the articles I read are untrue. I am also aware that we live in an interglacial and that wanting the world to cool down is wishing for the wrong thing. I also know the limitations of computer models.

            Are you an atmospheric physicist? If so, I bow to your superior knowledge. If not, don’t talk to me about reading science. I can only just manage to understand the higher maths needed for some of this stuff. Can you read it with confidence?

            Also, the biggest problem we all face is too many people. Do you really think the rain forests of Africa will be around when the Continent has more people than Asia? Will the savannahs still be covered in grass or will they have been turned into deserts by millions of hungry goats?

            • Andrew Verrijdt

              Well, the great thing about science is that it’s a group endeavour; we don’t have to understand it ourselves.

              In fact these days it’s impossible to be an expert on all of the things that affect us.

              But if we can find reliable sources with a proven track record then we can use their ideas with confidence.

              I have no shame in admitting that I do not have the expertise to critique the work of experts.

              So instead I do the intelligent thing: I admit that I’m out of my depth and I read what the experts are saying.

              And the fact is that 97% of climatologists believe that global warming is real, that humans are the cause and that we need to do something about it.

              You are right, we are in an interglacial period, but the funny thing about that is that we are supposed to be cooling. We should be heading back into an ice age that was supposed to hit in a few millennia. But global warming has gotten so bad that we are actually reversing this macro trend.

              And even if that wasn’t the case the rate of warming is far greater than would be expected under any normal fluctuation. It can’t be explained by anything except anthropogenic climate change.

              Lastly: over population is a myth.

              The fact is that we have more than enough resources for everyone (remember that most humans survive on a few dollars a day or less). What we lack is an effective and efficient method of distribution.

              • pp22pp

                This was misdirected by Disqus.

                Overpopulation is not a myth. We are running low on lots of things for which we are finding it difficult to find replacements,especially tin and copper. Take a trip to Western Europe, Japan or China and see for yourself. The bits of the planet that are habitable are seething. Making the Sahara habitable would require vast resources – which are, believe it or not finite.

                Distributing bulk items like food and fuel takes energy.

                97% of scientists agree? Bad statistics! Before you can throw out a statistic like that you would need to decide exactly who is and is not qualified and then either canvass the whole lot of them or choose a representative sample. No one ever has.

                No. A lot of the most vociferous “scientists” are nothing of the sort and seek to deny funding and work to those who disagree.

                If you really believe that people are responsible for climate variation, why are you not more concerned about the destruction of the rain forests? They are a huge carbon sink.

                • Andrew Verrijdt

                  Why would you assume that I’m not interested in the destruction of the rain forests? I definitely am, because as you say, they are an important part of the ecosystem.

                  And I am not saying that humans are responsible for all climate variation. I am repeating what climatologists are saying which is the current warming pattern is definitely the result of human activity.

                  Speaking of which about the 97% figure: your points are true, which is why the researchers DID ALL OF THAT.

                  The 97% figure is the most accurate one. If you’d taken the time to google it you would have found all the information you could want.

                  I’m slightly embarrassed for you that you would say “no one ever has” when you clearly didn’t bother to check :/

                  Here, let me get you started:


                  The articles being cited are referenced at the bottom.

                  And, as I mentioned before, the massive systematic review that lead to the 97% figure has been replicated with comparable findings, and the most common critiques of their methods were either dealt with by later scholars (who found pretty much the same thing) or were spurious to begin with.

                  I will say again: there is a consensus amongst climatologists about global warming. They agree that it’s happening, it’s the fault of humans and that CO2 is the largest factor.

                  You have been lied to.

                • pp22pp

                  More people = fewer rain forests = more carbon in the atmosphere. Therefore, overpopulation affects climate. Also, China and India are not interested in limiting carbon emissions. So, even if you right, why worry? Some eco-loons in NZ want us to destroy our economy to reduce our carbon emissions. What would that achieve?

                  Eco-loons also want more immigration. You have to fly to get to NZ. So more people = more carbon emissions.

                  It’s mid-summer here and it’s bloody cold – again.

                • pp22pp

                  I can use google too. Try this:


                  Nasa is gov’t owned and in the end does what it’s told to. It’s not independent.

                  I am going to read some science. I think I’ll do maths today. I missed out higher stats as part of my education. You’d be surprised how useful it is in geology.

                • Andrew Verrijdt

                  Just a minute.

                  You’re saying that you believe that Forbes writer’s that a massive systematic review that spanned 20 years worth of research, and has been replicated, can be disproved by a mere opinion poll?

                  I don’t think you know how science works…

                • dodgy

                  …I am going to read some science. I think I’ll do maths today…

                  Good idea. Why not try some stats – Principal Component Analysis, for example? Then you will be able to see how Michael Mann produced his fraudulent hockey-stick graph by cheating….

              • Simon_in_London

                “And the fact is that 97% of climatologists believe that global warming is real” – That’s just a made-up figure. You have no interest in the actual science.

                • Andrew Verrijdt

                  Whereas you clearly don’t know how to use Google.

                  Go on, Google it. You’ll find plenty of sites that strawman the research but if YOU stick to the science pages you’ll find proper analyses eventually.

                  Try ‘’.

                  Or stay ignorant. Your choice.

      • Simon_in_London

        International Development Aid lines the pockets of fat cats in offices. I was talking about subsidised food exports, which is what makes the big difference. Your comprehension seems limited.

        • Daniel Maris

          Well subsidised food aid must be even less. Why don’t you give some figures. Africa (compared with the Indian sub continent) generally is a very fertile continent. I don’t think food per se is a big issue for most of the continent. It tends to be things like sanitation, poor housing, unequal land distribution, corruption, war, poor education and unemployment that are the real issues.

          The West should help Africans, in terms of things like education, solar power, and road building.

          • Simon_in_London

            So you want Africa to get more welfare subsidies from the West. That’s my point – Africa is heavily subsidised already, it’s not capable of supporting itself, either through trade nor autonomously – it doesn’t produce enough. And the result has been an expanding population but little or no increase in individual wellbeing. Africa is still in the Malthusian Trap.

            • Daniel Maris

              Maybe this little nugget will help your understanding:

              “In 2005, the OECD estimated that farmers in developed countries received $279
              billion in subsidies – an amount equivalent to more than 60% of the GDP of all
              sub-Saharan African countries combined”

              Maybe the developed countries should set an example to Africa by eliminating those $279 billion of subsidies and bringing down the tarrif walls to trade.

              It ain’t gonna happen.

              I am no fan of interfering in African food markets except in cases of famine.

              The way to help Africans is with projects like education, mobile phone networks, laptops, solar power and so on which will help poor directly.

              • pp22pp

                Maybe we should mind our own business. Africa has been swallowing aid for ever. Has any of it worked? Anyway, resource hungry China calls the shots in Africa these days.

                • Daniel Maris

                  Where would China have been without all those mission schools bringing western knowledge to that part of the world? Agreed that China is now the big influence there.

            • pp22pp

              Do you post on Steve Sailer’s forum? I always enjoy your comments there.

              • Simon_in_London

                Thanks, yes that’s me.

  • London Calling

    The saying ‘no news is good news’ is true as today as it was yesterday….it can be very depressing if there’s no balance………..some stations get it right…..but we do tend to feed on the negative more…………Good to have another positive report by you Fraser……… is in deed a wonderful world……..:)

  • Rockin Ron

    And to add to all this good news, the Press in the UK is finally going to be properly regulated. Should bring cheer to Mr Nelson’s heart.

  • Daniel Maris

    Maybe Fraser should also take a look at this:

  • anyfool

    The lefts little fantasy about poverty in the UK is not playing out, so every time any little abnormality in the weather or any deviance from any perception of the natural order is jumped upon to deflect attention from the failure of their ideas, hence price freezes, hate laws and other such silly things that try to change nature but ultimately cause the opposite reaction.
    Now it seems they can descend on really poor countries and tell them they are poorer because the threshold of poverty ie dying ,starving and not having to beg for crusts of bread was the wrong threshold.
    There message is wait till you are an obese bloater with a telly and all the other goodies in your room and your parents have to drive to the food bank for a few freebies, now that’s real poverty, you third world poor really do not know what it is really like, now get back to your hovels and wait for us to make it better.

  • John Smith

    It suits the lefties, like the ubiquitous Greer, Abbott at al to have a glass half empty

    • Fergus Pickering

      Abbot? Are you speaking of the sainted Tony Abbott who reigns down under? Oh. You mean the fat lady. OK

  • LB

    You’re missing off the debts. In the UK the state has run up over 8,000 bn and that figure is rapidly rising.

    267,000 pounds per taxpayer. Given the median wage is 26K a year its not going to be paid.

    Wealthy? Only if you ignore the debts.

    There are none so blind as those that don’t want to see.

  • dalai guevara

    The published phrase of the year uttered by both Lee Kuan Yew and Helmut Schmidt at their last ever meeting in May 2012 outlined how both men expect a future Europe to become the world’s *playground*.
    Given the current Christmas shopping statistics, how could there be any doubt with regards to the validity of this statement?

  • HookesLaw

    There is no evidence to say we are experiencing any sort of extreme weather. There is no ultimate catastrophe of global warming that we face. Malaria deaths would be zero if all the bogus anti global warming effort had been expended in that direction. And malaria would have been eradicated years ago if all the junk science against DDT had been ignored.
    It is right to point out the world is in a better place and it will continue to get better if we stand up against terrorists and loonies rather than run away. But as things like the global warming rubbish we see perpetuated all the time persists there is one thing that is on the increase – ignorance.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …and you socialist Camerluvvies are leading the charge to that increased ignorance, as we know.

    • Andrew Verrijdt

      Actually mosquitoes were already becoming immune to DDT before it was banned.

      The ‘Libertarian’ argument that malaria would be gone if we’d been allowed to carry on using it contradicted by all the evidence.

      You have been lied to.

      And 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree that global warming is real, it’s man-made, and we need to do something about it.

      Don’t believe me? Google it (and bear in mind that the findings have also been replicated).

      • dodgy

        …Don’t believe me? Google it…

        The last refuge of the incompetent. Now that the science has comprehensively collapsed, all that you have left is continual wailing and repetition over the internet that you are correct.

        Maybe we’ll listen to you when your model predictions come near to matching reality. At the moment they’re drifting further and further apart. Don’t tell me that was predicted as well…!!

  • Maidmarrion

    “When Louis Armstrong sung ‘Wonderful World’ more than 80 per cent of China lived below the poverty line.”
    “sang” surely?

    • Daniel Maris

      “Whispered and growled” surely? (I like the song BTW, respect to Louis.)

  • Daniel Maris

    It’s fair comment to have a go at the gloom-mongers who have tended to get it wrong over the millennia. Some interesting graphs there – one point I would make is that the war deaths graph shows that the “age of imperialism” which many here laud, was in fact “the age of war” – a terrible global calamity.

    Are many people really arguing that things are getting worse on average on a global scale? Few doubt things have been getting better for the average citizen of Brazil, India and China I would suggest. But that doesn’t mean everything in the garden is rosy.

    Some points:

    1. Whilst optimism may be in order globally, in terms of this country, we have a very different situation. As a matter of fact children are becoming poorer than their parents. As a matter of fact youth unemployment is running at about 20%. One third of jobless 18-24-year-olds (250,000 people) have been out of work for more than 12 months, and 15 per cent (115,000) for more than 24 months, the highest level since 1994.As a matter of fact there is a housing crisis with it now being common for children to live with their parents until they are 30. Mass immigration, associated population growth in the UK and globalised trading is creating crises in a whole series of areas: school places, health facilities, welfare and employment (most new jobs going to immigrants or their children). The old link between GDP and individual prosperity has been broken. Also, we have not yet solved the debt crisis. The mountain of debt continues to climb at an alarming and unsustainable rate.

    2. Internationally, the problem of Islam is an extremely difficult one now that it has been freed from the shackles of European colonial rule. Every where there is Islam, there is war and conflict. That is an incontrovertible fact and as the influence of Islam has grown in the post-colonial era so has its impact in terms of war and conflict. This is not going to go away unless the influence of Islam is diminished. In the last 30 years we have seen the influence of Islam rise, not diminish.

    3. In terms of science and technology, we are entering entirely new territory e.g.

    – We see that now we live in a global surveillance society that 30 years ago would have horrified people in terms of its Orwellian character. Is that going to get better or worse. Surely worse. Take one example: spy agencies already have insect size monitoring devices. Are you really telling us that MI5 won’t be deploying these in the homes of suspects?

    – We are entering on a new age of genetic manipulation, which whilst it will bring many benefits in terms of improved health will also carry huge risks for humanity. This is especially so when allied to technologies like brain-computer interfaces, lie detection and so on.

    – Robot technology will soon render millions of people unemployed and probably unemployable in any meaningful commercial sense: millions of jobs will be going in areas like long distance road haulage, bus and train driving, warehouse work, shelf-stacking and check out jobs in supermarkets, security, taxi driving, catering and hotel work. We will be facing an unemployment crisis not seen since the early 19th century.

    • Wilhelm

      Daniel, did you have a ‘white’ Christmas ? I suspect that would be rather difficult you living in London and all.

      • HookesLaw

        How is the grand wizard these days? And how is it that the Spectator allows your sick rancid racist comments?

        A fecking b@stard miserable new year to you, you pervert.

        • Wilhelm

          Thanks Hooky, sharing the love as usual.

        • Fergus Pickering

          he Spectator should allow anyone to comment. Miserable racists in particular, since they don’t get a fair shake anywhere else.

      • Daniel Maris

        No I didn’t have a white Christmas, thankfully. I am not looking to live in a monotone world, besides we were all much poorer when last we did live in a monotone world. That was the age of poverty, early death from disease and malnutrition, widespread illiteracy and smog. We’re doing much better now we are no longer monotone (strange, given your theories – we should all be back in mud huts, shouldn’t we? ) . However, I am concerned that mass immigration is out of control and that, in particular we have imported several million people, who hate liberal democratic values. If you were applying to enter the country I wouldn’t want you in either, whatever your skin tone, given your anti-liberal views.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Oh come. Can only liberals come here? That’s rather illiberal.

          • Daniel Maris

            Yep, only people fully committed to liberal democratic values (living by parliament’s laws, without recourse to violence, accepting the idea of regular elections to representative assemblies and allowing freedom of thought and speech) should be allowed in. Also, only people who have mastered the English language and are committed to making that the language of their children. Eff the rest.

        • Wilhelm

          Daniel my simple minded soul, I asked if it snowed where you lived and you come out with a demented rant about demographics !!!

    • HookesLaw

      Since when were the 1940’s the age of imperialism? The age of japanese imperialism maybe and Nazi-ism. If you look at the pick up of deaths it coincides with when we gave our empire away.
      You are as crass ignorant and stupid as ever.
      Youth unemployment? What about the million plus new jobs? How can there be any unemployment? What in fact you are looking at are the ‘youth can’t be @rsed to get ouit of bed’ figures.

      • Daniel Maris

        In the 1940s about 90% of the globe was in the hands of Empires: British, German, Japanese, Italian, Dutch, Russian (aka Soviets), French, Dutch, Portugese, Spanish, and Belgian. One might add the Americans who were occupying a number of ex Spanish territories.

        You are paddling in the historical shallows as always.

        Most new jobs go to immigrants. Fact.

        I am not hymning the youth of Britain. Most do indeed need a good kick up the rs to get out of bed, but that doesn’t negate the facts of youth unemployment.

    • Fergus Pickering

      1. Cut off the money that allows idle young persons to sit on their bums.
      2. Make life harder for the Islamic bastards who are here.
      3.Dunno, mate. I expect it’ll sort itself out..

  • Fergus Pickering

    How nice to see an optimistic Scotsman. Let us encourage him.

    • Wilhelm

      There’s one thing being an optimist , another being a day dreaming fantasist / ostrich.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Oh come. Trust in God and take short views. Don’t let your Germanic gloom envelope you.

  • Wilhelm

    Pie charts, graphs, histograms, but no Venn diagrams ? Groan, there’s more to life than counting pennies.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Can I have some of the hallucinatory substance Nelson has laced his Koolade with? When did he turn into a Miss World candidate?

    Lower mortality rates combined with, greater longevity, increased birth rates lead to growing population alongside greater expectations of prosperity which in turn will lead to rapidly growing demand, inability to supply, greater shortages, higher prices (as is already being seen in the energy market) and eventually the sort of decisions being made that are only explored in the most nightmarish of science fiction. In other words its bad for everybody except the parasites at the top of the pile creaming off the profits.

    Still at least we know whose side the dim-witted Fraser is on now……

    • HookesLaw

      What a load of pathetic dross you come up with. For one thing birth rates are falling.

      There is no inability to supply and no shortages. Retailers are bemoaning the fall of in footfall for the sales. The problem we face is an endless supply of mindless tat.

      We have just discovered a massive source of energy under our own soil and we could happily supply limitless sources of nuclear energy if we had a will. There is no reason for energy supplies to be excessively high.

      ‘dim wits’? you were at the front of the queue for them.

      • Fergus Pickering

        What I can’t understand is why we are told that widespread fracking won’t make energy cheaper. Perhaps you know why this is, Hooky. Is it true and if it is, why is it? And why should thousands of horrible windmills make energy cheaper when fracking doesn’t?

        • Daniel Maris

          The operational and maintenance/fuel/transmission costs of wind energy (i.e. what we might call the operating costs) are very low: $16.3 per MwH compared with $51.3 for the cheapest gas.

          For me it comes down to a question of whether we are prepared to subsidise the capital cost of wind energy. Why not? I would much prefer to prioritise creating a green energy infrastructure rather than paying £80billion to build HS2 which is likely to have a negative impact overall. If we put capital investment into wind energy, we would all enjoy cheaper energy bills.

          I think fracking might make energy cheaper, but it won’t be as cheap as in the USA. For one thing the gas here is owned by the crown. So you will have to pay for a licence from the crown as well as buying land on which to frack. For another, land prices are much higher in the UK. For another, we live on a crowded island. There will be huge planning costs associated with setting up fracking ops.

          As for wind turbines, these are a proven technology and we

          • Fergus Pickering

            You are assuming that the windmills need no maintenance. You are also assuming that they all produce energy, which they don’t. They blow over in the wind and I gather the Danes don’t like them at all and they have lots. Of course you may think they are things of beauty but most people hate them. The offshore ones MUST have higher operating costs and it presumably costs more the farther away they are from where the energy is needed. They have lots on Shetland, but no way of shifting te energy five hundred miles to where it migfht be needed. In other words your figures sound a bit back of the envelope..

            • Daniel Maris

              No, the comparative costs I gave INCLUDE all maintenance (and transmission) costs. Wind energy’s costs (like most green energy costs) are heavily concentrated in capital expenditure – but I am arguing we give it priority over HS2 and other high cost capital projects of dubious merit, because the merits of delivering cheap and dependable energy are obvious. With say £50 billion spread over 10 years we could make a real difference.

              Another point is that when the turbines reach the end of their life after say 20-25 years, the towers, rotors and other infrastructure will still be there. For the next generation, we need only replace the turbine in most cases, and that costs only 15-20% of the original capital cost – so the capital cost will also reduce over time.

              I tell you – in 15 years’ time the Germans will be laughing in our faces.

  • Temple Melville

    Ah yes Fraser – no one has actually done anything to make this all happen have they? As I often say, London gets fed and watered every day without anyone directing the trucks about – it’s the collective wisdom of crowds and the operation of global capitalism. Wonderful thing as long as the Politicians don’t interfere

    • Daniel Maris

      Wow – the market built the UK motorway system did it?

      Somehow I must have forgotten that scene where all the road haulage companies got together and said “Forget the profits this year, let’s all club together and build us a lovely motorway system that will allow us to move goods much more quickly.”

      However, I have no doubt it happened because I also believe in Santa Claus, Peter Pan and fairies at the bottom of the garden.

      • Temple Melville

        Ah well, that would be the requirements of the market forcing the building of the motorways. And I do believe they were built by private enterprise companies….

        • Daniel Maris

          You’re saying state owned construction companies can’t build motorways? That’s a new one on me.

          • Temple Melville

            Which state owned construction companies built our motorway system then? I think not

            • Daniel Maris

              I presumed you were talking about general principles – many roads around the world have been built by state owned companies, just as much of our big housing projects were.

      • beatonthedonis

        Be fair Mr Maris, the haulage and road-building industry did get its place man Ernest Marples elected and eventually chosen as Transport Secretary. He then fixed it for the rail network to be dismantled and millions of taxpayers’ money to be spent with his road-building company.

        It was private money and hard work that enabled this to happen.

  • anyfool

    Among all this Sky News is pimping its way around the current floods looking for self pitying people to whinge about the electricity companies, it was even down to whining about not being able to charge their mobiles, I switched off before they probably blamed Thatcher or Cameron.
    That is the standard of reporting in this country, someone who picked the wrong place to buy a house is given the opportunity to blame the current thing in the sights of the witless Sky News team.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Well it didn’t take long for you to turn into Ebeneezer Scrooge!

      Whilst Sky News is one of the prime examples of the bimbonic plague now laying our media class low its ironic you should pick on a news item which indeed showed David Cameron visiting one of the affected areas and agreeing that more needed to be done.

      PS And given that all other forms of communication were and are down in some of these areas having access to a mobile phone gains far greater significance than it normally would so even those complaining about not being able to power their phones should be given a little slack

      • anyfool

        Yes you are probably right, I am letting my annoyance with the poor and biased quality of Sky News colour my judgement, maybe that qualifies me to join them.

      • HookesLaw

        How did we ever get on before mobile phones. If people cared about emergency planning they would get those battery- connector things that can give your phone a boost.

      • John Smith

        If things were that bad all these people would have solar panels, Wind Turbines, generators & loads of spare batteries

    • HookesLaw

      You are quite correct. Truth is always the first to go out of the window when journalists seek to earn a living. Whether SKY or the BBC – the 24 Hr news syndrome is an insidious sickness. But will journalists speak against their own.

      • swatnan

        It amazes me that some people are so unprepared, after all the warnings and forecasts for these kninds of emergencies which only happen once in 50 years or so. And to ambush Dave is ridiculuous; what did they expect him to do? take out his toolkit and start fixing the leaks? The fact is after a disastrous few days it’ll be back to normal, once the waters have receeded and the flood damage cleared away.
        There’s little that can be done but face up to it with stoicism. Put it down to bad luck to be in the eye of the storm.

    • John Smith

      The weather is a godsend to 24 hr rolling news. The scenario is we have never ever seen this before.
      Except for 1947, 1953, 1963, etc

  • swatnan

    We are becoming a geratric Nation, and World, and that is not progress. its simply creating problems for the future.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Due to the unprecedented immigration we are not becoming a geriatric nation. Germany is. Scotland is. But not England. It IS a mite crowded.

      • HookesLaw

        Russia is on a massive downward spiral. It will be in a real mess far sooner than perhaps most people realise.

      • pp22pp

        Giving Britain the demographic profile of Northern Brazil won’t make us rich. A smaller Germany or Japan will still be wealthy, because they have the smarts to deal with the problems occasioned by low birth rates.

        You seem to believe we should follow the Bangladeshi model of economic development.

        Remember, Fergus, hatefacts are still facts.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Do you know the meaning of geriatric? Low birth rates and no immigration = geriatric nation. Now maybe that doesn’t matter to you, but it does to me.Old people (like myself) are all very well, but you can have too much of a good thing.

          • pp22pp

            We are one of the most crowded countries on earth. This cannot go on for ever. A low birth rate is a good thing.

            Our birthrate is not zero and we have structural unemployment across Europe. Do you really want the native population to go the way of the Red Indians?

            If high birthrates equalled wealth, then Germany would be broke and Subsaharan Africa would be rich.

            • Fergus Pickering

              I’m not talking about ealth. I’m talking about countries stuffed with rich, unhappy, disabled old people who have lost their marbles. A multiplicity of King Lears without the poetry, I really don’t fancy it..What is your stance on euthanasia?

              • pp22pp

                Japan is handling its demographic transition very successfully. I don’t see economic collapse. It doesn’t have the buzz it had in the 80’s but it’s a very viable society. Germany has had a declining population for decades. I would rather be euthanised than cared for by Somalis.

  • telemachus

    “never has the growth been more fairly distributed”
    Not if you heed this:

    Britain told social inequality has created ‘public health timebomb’

    UK is failing its children, women and young people on a grand scale, says Marmot report on links between inequality and health

    “Sir Michael Marmot, who is known worldwide for his work on the social determinants of health, says much of the rest of Europe takes better care of its families. Life expectancy for women and death rates among the under-fives are worse in the UK, where there is also more child poverty.

    The public health time bomb Marmot describes is caused by the large number of so-called Neets – young adults who are not in education, employment or training.”

    • Alex

      Are you aware that the UK is not the same thing as the World?

      • HookesLaw

        Is he self aware at all?

    • Dogzzz

      This is a global picture. Just because the poorest are becoming richer at a slower rate than the richest, does not mean that they are not getting richer.

      Increasing the wealth of the richest by a couple of million dollars a year, will not make much difference to the life of such a rich person. Increasing the wealth of the poorest by 100 dollars a year does make a massive difference to that person.

    • Hexhamgeezer


    • Fergus Pickering

      Sir Michael Marmot? Never heard of him? Is he related to the Mincing Marmots by any chance?