🎆 2022 was filled with progress and optimistic news

🎆 2022 was filled with progress and optimistic news

Don't be fooled by all the misery in the regular news feed. 2022 was filled with positive events. Animals making a comeback, AI breakthroughs, plastic being cleared from the oceans, smarter children, and many climate entrepreneurs.

Mathias Sundin
Mathias Sundin

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If you ask someone what happened in 2022, most people answer "the war in Ukraine". It's also the first thing that pops into mind for me. But when I scrolled through all the optimistic news we published this past year, a completely different, much brighter picture emerged.

All the positives that happened do not negate the horrors of Ukraine or other miseries around the world, but it does show that we should not only fixate on the negatives. That's only part of the story.

Animals making a comeback

A strong trend is all the different animal species making a comeback. Humpback whales, sea turtles, black bears, alligators, and storks.

🐻 Five species that have recovered from near extinction
These five animal species have been on the brink of extinction but have made a booming comeback.

Tigers in Nepal are no longer on the verge of extinction and are joined by cheetahs.

50 years ago there were less than 100 Indian rhinos in the wild. At this year's count, there were over 4,000.

Also in Europe, things are looking bright for several species. Many large mammals have increased by hundreds and in some cases thousands of percent in the last 60 years.

🐂 European wildlife sees strong comeback
Many large mammals have increased by hundreds and in some cases thousands of percent in the last 60 years.

Dramatic changes take time

Traditional news media often miss the very biggest stories because they take time. Like that 415 million Indians have left poverty in the last 15 years. That's about the same number of people living in the entire EU.

In India, a lot of rice is eaten, so the fact that a research group succeeded in creating a super rice that managed to increase the yield by 40 percent, is good news.

Or that the number of fatal accidents among Swedish children has halved in the last 30 years.

We learned in April that fewer people died in natural disasters in 2021. In 2021, a total of 10,492 people died due to natural disasters. That is well below the 61,212 deaths per year that was the average from 2001 to 2020.

For the tenth year in a row, the Swedes broke records in recycling.

AI for the benefit of humanity

Artificial intelligence has (again) had a strong year. Recently, OpenAI released its chatbot ChatGPT, which took the world by storm. In five days it reached one million users. Something that took Facebook 10 months and Instagram almost three months. For me, it was like when I searched and played songs on Spotify for the first time. I could hardly believe it was true.

Now I asked it to write a speech about optimism in the same style as Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and three seconds later it spited this out.

Before ChatGPT, however, it was AI that creates images that got the most attention. It allows millions of people to become artists.

💡 Optimist’s Edge: You can also be an artist – with the help of an AI
💡 AI painting upends creative boundaries by empowering anyone to create art that previously required the skill of professional artists.

In 2022, we also saw computer programs that can see what reading difficulties a child has.

DeepMind has been stacking AI breakthroughs on top of each other and 2022 was no exception. Among other things, by helping to read ancient texts, programming, writing scripts for theater plays and films, playing Stratego and Diplomacy, helping mathematicians develop algorithms, and facial recognition for turtles(!)

But heaviest of all is an earlier breakthrough, the mapping of proteins. Last year, a tool was released that makes it possible to understand what a protein looks like. Something that previously needed to be done in a lab at great expense, for a single protein. Now DeepMind has mapped 200 million proteins. These are almost all cataloged proteins known to science.

Cleaning oceans and beaches from plastic

Boyan Slat is the name of the teenager who, on holiday in Greece, saw how the ocean was destroyed by plastic and decided to fix it. Ten years later, his solar-powered barges prevent 50 tons of plastic per day from reaching the sea, by intercepting and capturing it in the rivers. Out at sea, his shisp picks up the plastic that still made it all the way there.

🚢 Solar-powered barges can capture 50 tons of plastic from rivers each day
The Ocean Cleanup has come up with a novel solution to stop plastic entering our oceans via rivers - a solar-powered barge which uses curved barriers to catch waste floating downstream.

In Australia, plastic litter on beaches has decreased by almost a third.

Exciting new vaccines

Researchers from the University of Oxford have tested a malaria vaccine that works so well that there is the hope of completely stopping malaria from spreading. It would then save the lives of 400,000 people, mostly children, every year around the world.

Work is also underway on a vaccine against HIV based on the new mRNA technology.

The kids will be alright

Children who play more computer games than average also increase their IQ scores more than other children.

🎮 Computer games can make children smarter
Children who play more computer games than average also increase their IQ score more than other children.
Photo: Indivisible Gaming

During the pandemic, there was a lot of concern about young people's mental health, but no deterioration has been noted among young adults, according to the Institute for Future Studies.

Nor do they, or anyone else, risk getting brain tumors from cell phones, according to a large 20-year study.

Tough times for serial killers

Some who do not look optimistically to the future are serial killers. Considering all the podcasts, TV shows, and movies about these horrible people, you'd easily think the number is on the rise. But no.

In fact, serial killers are dying out. In the last 30 years, they have decreased by over 80 percent.

Heavy arguments for optimism

Enough about the world, time for some navel-gazing. The most-read article of the year on Warp News was actually published last year. Wired's founder, Kevin Kelly, wrote The Case for Optimism.

💡 Kevin Kelly: The Case for Optimism
Kevin Kelly is the founder of Wired Magazine and author of several books, among them The Inevitable. For Warp News he presents his case for optimism.

For TED, he made a shorter version, which now has over two million views.

"We should be optimistic, not because our problems are smaller than we thought, but because our capacity to solve them is larger than we thought."
- Kevin Kelly

This year he was joined by an intellectual giant, David Deutsch. He is a professor at Oxford and the father of the field of quantum computing. His book The Beginning of Infinity is one of the two best books I have read and contains strong intellectual arguments for optimism and why the future should come sooner.

For Warp News, he wrote about optimism, cynicism, and pessimism.

💡 David Deutsch: Optimism, Pessimism and Cynicism
With so much progress in the world, how can pessimism still be widespread? It is because of cynicism, denying that “so-called-progress” is progress, argues David Deutsch, professor at Oxford University and one of the world’s leading intellectuals on optimism.
"Although they may have sometimes inspired others to think outside the conventional box, no wonderful discovery, invention, or idea is named after a cynic."
- David Deutsch

Optimist's Edge galore

During the year, we have published a new Optimist's Edge each week. That's the advantage fact-based optimists have when looking at the world.

Food of the future

There is a lot going on in the food area. Fruit and vegetables that do not need a plastic cover, sugar that is not so harmful, refined with CRISPR, and food from the air are produced. Or how about some milk without cows?

💡 Optimist’s Edge: Milk without cows
A factory in Denmark can replace nine percent of Danish cows. Milk and other dairy products can be produced in bioreactors by precision in the fermentation process. Foodtech companies all over the world are now working hard to create a future where cows become redundant.

We have started to grow food in new ways too, vertically.

Space is becoming increasingly accessible

Launching things into space is getting cheaper so that it will soon cost a thousandth of what it did just a few years ago.

💡 Optimist’s Edge: Launching into space will be 99.9% cheaper
💡 In just a few years, launching rockets into space will become 99.9 percent cheaper than today, opening up space like never before.

It makes space available for much more human activity, such as building large space colonies near Earth. Or why not a space parasol to reduce global warming, as our astronaut Christer Fuglesang suggested?

But more space also helps us solve problems on Earth.

Democracy is humanity's best hack

If all countries and all people lived in democracies, humanity's major problems would be solved or dramatically reduced.

💡 Optimist’s Edge: The hack to solve all of humanity’s major problems
If all countries and all people lived in democracies the major problems of humanity would be solved or be dramatically smaller.

For example, we would avoid famine and war.

Too bad to be true

The media logic is to think "that sounds too good to be true." But scrutiny should also take place from the other point of view: "That sounds too bad to be true."

Warp News has started a series of such articles, and the first two are written by former Dagens Nyheter (Sweden's largest daily newspaper) journalist and editor, Anders Bolling.

🌪️ The unknown truth about the non-extreme extreme weather
The summer news drought always means a high season for weather news. We will hear that the weather has become increasingly more extreme. Few will ask the follow-up question: is it true? It’s a shame, because the answer is essentially no.
🌡️ This is how the UN’s worst scenario was normalized and distorted our view of global warming
There is some really good news in last year’s report from the UN climate panel IPCC: The horror scenario is no longer considered credible. We can forget the worst forecasts. But this bombshell of joy has been passed over with silence, not only in the media but also largely in the scientific world.

Green Impact

Climate and the environment are the most popular things we write about. Maybe because other media rarely write anything positive, while we show that there is hope.

The entire green transition creates enormous opportunities. We will live in a better world where we can travel more and cheaper, eat better and cheaper, and use electricity more and cheaper - and it will be clean and environmentally friendly.

💡 Optimist’s Edge: Larger emissions mean greater opportunities
Investing in oil and gas will not pay off as much in the future. Still, people, in general, believe so. As the world shifts to more non-fossil energy sources, it is important to know which companies and areas are best to invest in.

During the year, we met several entrepreneurs involved in creating this green future.

Like Pernilla Westerberg who makes climate-friendly dog food from insects, William Bergh who creates a market for recycled electric car batteries, the renaissance man of nuclear power, John Ahlberg, as well as Fredrik Billing and Tore Stenbock who want to solve the hassle of charging the electric car.

👊 Pernilla Westergren makes dog food from insects: “I want to start a dog food revolution”
Pernilla Westergren changed careers from investment banking to selling dog food made from insects. That reduces the dogs climate paw prints and is also better for their health.

After talking to all these entrepreneurs, I felt that a wave of solutions is underway. "Nothing is happening" for the climate is heard time and time again, but it is not true. An incredible amount is happening.

🌊 A tsunami of climate solutions is on its way
At times it feels like very little progress is made to reduce climate change. Things have to be done faster. However, we will probably be surprised in 2035 how incredibly far we have come in reducing emissions. This is because a tsunami of climate solutions is on its way.

Visiting the future

During the year, our Warp Premium Supporters have visited companies involved in creating this green future several times. Like the electric aircraft company Heart Aerospace and the vertical farmer Ecobloom.

Exciting Premium Supporters

Premium Supporters are our paying members. Among these, there are many exciting people. Like Wall Street legend Jim O'Shaughnessy.

💰 Wall Street legend: “Pessimists sound smart – optimists make money”
Jim O’Shaughnessy is a legendary investor on Wall Street. He shares what he thinks is the biggest opportunity for the future and explains how the world is going through a great reshuffle.

And internet pioneer Jonas Birgersson.

🔌 Jonas Birgersson: “All the electricity you need for a low, fixed fee”
Jonas Birgersson became an internet pioneer by promising and delivering all the internet you need for $20 a month. Now he believes that the same thing can be done with electricity. “For a low, fixed price, you have all the electricity you need.”

Energy in abundance with the energy society

Together with Jonas Birgersson, we have started Project Energy Society. We want to reach a society where clean energy is so abundant that it is not even worth measuring consumption.

In energy, we find one of the biggest and most optimistic events of the year: The breakthrough for nuclear fusion.

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in creating a fusion process that produced more energy than was used to power it.

⚡ Nuclear fusion breakthrough: More energy out than in
For the first time in history, scientists have managed to produce more energy from nuclear fusion than what was required for the lasers to drive it.

Warp News in other media

During the year, we have been seen here and there in other media. Here are some examples. A lot of Swedish media, but also some international.

Gerd Leonhard who has started The Good Future Project invited me to a discussion about why optimists create the future.

Tea and freedom.

Happy New Year!

If you follow the usual news coverage, it can feel pitch black. "We live in troubled times" is repeated like a mantra. The problems are real and serious, but so are the opportunities. While terrible things are happening in Ukraine, the world is improving in many ways.

The world becomes what we make of it, and no group has more influence the future than the optimists.

Happy New Year!

Mathias Sundin
Editor-in-Chief, Warp News

💡 The future is created by optimists
What happens if more people are optimistic about the future? We will have more innovation and faster progress towards a better future.