1. The overall decrease in armed conflict. With the Iraq war, the Darfur crisis, the Israel/Palestinian conflict, and other armed conflicts in the news (with good reason), it’s sometimes hard to remember that the world is actually much more peaceful now than it was just over a decade ago.
2. Steady donations for disaster relief. Despite various bureaucratic mishandling of Katrina, the Tsunami, etc., a positive trend emerged: generous giving on the part of both individuals and governments all over the world. It’s good to see people stepping up to help their fellow humans, even in other countries.
3. Cities fighting global warming the “think global, act local” strategy may actually have some impact here. While the US federal government turns a blind eye to global warming, people through the country are working on local legislation to reduce green house emissions.
4. Green Design. This is such a broad category, but this site and World Changing are full of stories about new, more environmentally friendly technologies. Of particular note to me are innovations that save energy and materials – good design is green design.
5. International disease control. See this column by Bruce Sterling about SARS, and think about how Bird-Flu hasn’t turned into a global pandemic either.
The upshot of all of this? We’re killing each other less, cooperating more at an international level, and making progress to reduce green house emissions and avert a global energy crisis. There’s a lot to do still (particularly in the areas of poverty and disease), but these are very positive trends.