It is not a surprise that Hans Rosling has died, it's been known for some time that he was terminally ill. However, there is of course a sadness for his family and friends and also for us out here in that wider world. For in his final career he became an evangelist for the truth about our world. Things are getting better, fewer children die, the population explosion is near over as a result, the world is getting richer and better day by day.
This is of course in direct contrast to the usual jeremiads about how capitalism and globalisation are leading us down the path to damnation. And as such, of course, all most useful.
If you've not seen any of his talks then we recommend this, the first and breakout one at TED. This one about the decline in child mortality is also close to our hearts. And we have a very soft spot for this about the washing machine. How the mechanisation of drudgery makes us all so much richer.
If you prefer static imagery and data sets to video talks then Max Roser presents much the same information here.
The essential lesson on offer being, and one without which we simply have no hope at all of deciding what to do next, that the good old days are right now. Further, that as long as we don't mess up there is no reason why they shouldn't keep getting better off into the future.
That is, roughly and imprecisely to be sure, with backsliding here and there, we're on the right track with this economic development thing, with that just passed greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species.
Rosling wasn't feted and awarded in the same manner that Paul Ehrlich, who has been wrong on every point concerning the same matter, has been but then that's just how society seems to work. Gloom sells better than optimism.
All (all!) that Rosling did was stand up and tell us the truth about our world. A worthwhile thing to do with a life, don't you think?