The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

Author: Matt Ridley
Editor:

Life is getting better—and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violenceinfo-icon are down — all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growthinfo-icon is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of povertyinfo-icon; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people’s lives as never before. The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for two hundred years.Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperityinfo-icon comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchangeinfo-icon and specialization—which started more than 100,000 years ago—has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trustinfo-icon, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnationinfo-icon of the Ming empire to the inventioninfo-icon of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate changeinfo-icon. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human raceinfo-icon for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the twenty-first century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rationalinfo-icon Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.

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