Every generation is haunted by a sense of imminent catastrophe. Some part of us seems programmed to believe that, though life has been steadily getting better until now, the good times are about to end. And there are indeed intermittent reverses: wars, recessions, environmental disasters.
The general trend, though, is unmistakable. We are leading longer, fuller, healthier lives than our great-grandparents would have thought possible, and wealth is trickling across the planet. Why? Because the discovery of specialisation and trade has unlocked our species' almost limitless creativity. And, as we get richer, we take better care of our natural environment. Cheer up. Life keeps getting better.