We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason...
On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?
– Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1830
Matt Ridley, the author of the Rational Optimist, recounts the long, flawed history of pessimistic predictions and invites us to examine the facts behind our inexorable march of progress.
To illustrate, he describes how agriculture is supporting our growing population at an ever lower cost to the environment.
As a result, human well-being and life expectancy are improving at rates previously unimaginable, notwithstanding man-made disasters like biofuel policy.