Comment: If humanity has never been richer, why do so many feel things are going badly wrong?

The world’s unprecedented wealth has been appallingly maldistributed while the spectre of climate change looms — people need a vision for how their lives can improve in a post pandemic world

‘The bottom billion people may have smartphones and some access to health care, but in many ways, they are not much better off than our pre-industrial Malthusian ancestors.’ Picture: Getty

Humanity as a whole is wealthier today than at any time in its history. And yet, from the short-term challenge of the pandemic to the existential threat of global warming, there is a widespread sense that things are going badly wrong. The start of a new year is an occasion for hope, but is pessimism the more appropriate default?

To answer that question, we should consider our current situation in a broader context. For the ...