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MLA Full: "2017 is the Best?" YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 12 December 2017,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2017)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2017, December 12). 2017 is the Best? [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2017)
Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "2017 is the Best?", December 12, 2017, YouTube, 03:53,
THE PROJECT FOR AWESOME FUNDRAISER IS LIVE: So many great perks from your favorite Youtubers! (All money raised goes to Save the Children and Last Mile Helath.)
Let me know in comments what the best of 2017 has been for you.
The Project for Awesome:
The fundraiser goes live at midnight tonight!!!

If you're looking to understand big trends in global human life, I highly recommend Our World in Data, which has information on everything from child mortality to human height to greenhouse gas emissions to financing education:

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Good morning Hank! It's Tuesday. Today I'd like to share some good news with you because lately I've been feeling a little bit bleh. You know, I'm kind of fed up with 2017 in general and I find large swathes of the social internet sort of disheartening and I just feel...bleh. But once a year I like to look at some encouraging global trend lines so here are five ways that 2017 is actually kind of the best.

First: charitable giving is at an all-time high even after adjusting for inflation, at least in the United States.

Secondly: it's possible that 2017 will be the second to last year that any human ever gets polio.

The end of polio will be a huge global health victory, won by millions of donors and heroic volunteers. So far this year there have been only 16 new cases of wild polio virus. That's down from 37 last year. For a little bit of context, when I was in high school there were over 100,000 cases of polio every year [ON SCREEN TEXT: (I'm old, but not THAT old)]. 

Third: by some measures 2017 has been the best year in human history, although by many other measures it hasn't been, like if you measure, for instance, by Twitter. But like, percentage of people living in absolute poverty: lowest it's ever been. Percentage of kids in school: highest it's ever been. Percentage of adults who can read: highest it's ever been! Cancer death rates are down - not just in rich countries, but globally! And also, this baby hippopotamus was born.

Of course, there are ways in which the world is getting worse. In the US, for instance, opioid abuse is driving a huge increase in death by drug overdose. South Sudan is experiencing a famine - the world's first official famine since 2012 - and several other countries are on the brink of famine. Horrific ethnic cleansing in Myanmar has killed many people, and forced hundreds of thousands more from their homes.

There are many tragedies that demand better responses from governments and individuals, but even so, on average the human population is healthier, more prosperous, and better educated than it ever has been. 

Okay, fourth: babies! Babies are amazing, and they are being born everyday, and in 2017 a particular amazing baby named Orin learned how to crawl. Also, babies have never been as healthy or as likely to survive into adulthood as they are in 2017.

To understand how dramatically things are improving let's look at Liberia. So back in 1995, when I graduated from high school, 24% of all babies born in Liberia died before the age of five. Today it is below 7%! Now that is still way too high, but it has dropped by more than 2/3 in just 22 years.

Now you might be saying "Oh buy population growth is out of control", except no - like everywhere else in the world, in Liberia when healthcare access improves, and child mortality goes down, families choose to have fewer children. Here's what the fertility rate looks like from 1995.

So these changes are profound, but I should say that they are neither natural nor inevitable. Like, this is happening because of investments we are making as a species, in research, in healthcare systems, and in training and paying healthcare workers. 

For most of human history there was no expectation that over time lives would get healthier or food more abundant, because that's not what happened over time.

In can be hard to process just how dramatic these changes are, so for a little bit of context, in the year my mother was born the child mortality rate in Portugal was about 9%. In 2017, no country on earth will have a child mortality rate that high [ON SCREEN TEXT: (barring some terrible disaster)].

Now lots of organizations are working on keeping this progress going, but I want to highlight 2: Save the Children, which helps kids and families from refugee camps to remote villages worldwide, and Last Mile Health, which trains and employs community health workers in Liberia.

Which brings me to my fifth bit on good news: The Project for Awesome starts this Friday at noon EST! That's when you should upload your video about a charity you care about (more info and thumbnails available at But the fundraiser for the Project For Awesome begins midnight tonight, and during this first half of the Project For Awesome we're raising money for Save The Children and Last Mile Health.

Because of matching donations, every dollar you donate will count as 4 dollars. And also, you can get amazing perks! Like tuatara coins, and deleted scenes from my book Turtles All the Way Down, and a personalized self care bunny.

And some of those perks are limited in quantity, so no pressure, em dash, little bit of pressure...

If it's passed midnight you can find a link to the fundraiser at, or in the doobly-doo below.

Hank! I will see you and the rest of Nerdfighteria at noon eastern time, this Friday, for the 48 hour Project For Awesome livestream.