This week’s Resource Recommendation is The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley.
Read the newspapers and magazines of the past and you would read of experts touting large scale famine and unconquerable problems of all sorts. Read your favorite news source or watch the TV news today and you will find the same thing.
The environment is crumbling. We are running out of fossil fuels and food. We can’t sustain ourselves long term.
Throughout history, these thoughts and reports of impending doom (at worst) and nagging pessimism (at best) have gotten the most play and have been spread and believed.
Ridley proposes something different.
He proposes that throughout history, over time, by virtually every measure, things have gotten better. Better environmentally, better socially, better medically, better physically, better economically. Better. We eat better live longer, raise more children past infancy, have more income and less violence — at an accelerating rate.
The book talks at length about how we have gotten better, using cases and statistics throughout history to illuminate the points.
This book doesn’t mean to say that there haven’t been famines or problems, just that history show us that when humans identify a problem, what he calls the “collective brain” of humankind finds solutions.
As a professed optimist, I was drawn to the premise of the book when I picked it up. It is fair to say I was predisposed to its message. Yet with nearly every turn of the page I learned something new, gained data for some of my beliefs and had a far clearer picture of why one can look to the future in a positive way.
This book doesn’t say the future will be perfect, any more than it would propose that past was. It does give much food for thought and a valuable perspective for you as a leader of others and as a participant in the growth and productivity of the planet.