2015: The best year in history for the average human being

Furthermore, terrorism, war, and murder together remain a minor cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 119,463 people died in incidents of “collective violence and legal intervention,” such as civil war, and 504,587 died from episodes of “interpersonal violence,” such as homicide, in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. In the same year, according to the Global Terrorism Index, 11,133 people died in terrorist attacks—suggesting terrorism accounted for about 1.8 percent of violent deaths worldwide. And for all that terrorism deaths have increased since 2012, they remain responsible for perhaps three hundredths of one percent of global mortality. All collective and interpersonal violence together accounted for around 1.1 percent of total deaths in 2012. Rabies was responsible for three times as many deaths as terrorism that year. Stomach cancer killed more people than murder, manslaughter, and wars combined. And the good news about many of the more important causes of global mortality is that the world continued making progress against them in 2015.

Take two fellow horsemen of the apocalypse alongside war: famine and pestilence. Both were on the defensive in 2015. There were fears of drought across the Sahel causing a famine this year—especially in conflict zones such as South Sudan. While the risk of major food shortages in 2016 is high, the fear hasn’t materialized yet, at least. Famine deaths are increasingly rare and increasingly limited to the few areas of the world suffering complete state collapse. Related to that, the proportion of the world’s population that is undernourished has slipped from 19 percent to 11 percent between 1990 and today.