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Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance





Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance

Laurence B. Siegel

ISBN: 978-1-119-52689-6 December 2019 512 Pages



How the world has become much better and why optimism is abundantly justified

Why do so many people fear the future? Is their concern justified, or can we look forward to greater wealth and continued improvement in the way we live?

Our world seems to be experiencing stagnant economic growth, climatic deterioration, dwindling natural resources, and an unsustainable level of population growth. The world is doomed, they argue, and there are just too many problems to overcome. But is this really the case? In Fewer, Richer, Greener, author Laurence B. Siegel reveals that the world has improved—and will continue to improve—in almost every dimension imaginable.

This practical yet lighthearted book makes a convincing case for having gratitude for today’s world and optimism about the bountiful world of tomorrow. Life has actually improved tremendously. We live in the safest, most prosperous time in all human history. Whatever the metric—food, health, longevity, education, conflict—it is demonstrably true that right now is the best time to be alive. The recent, dramatic slowing in global population growth continues to spread prosperity from the developed to the developing world. Technology is helping billions of people rise above levels of mere subsistence. This technology of prosperity is cumulative and rapidly improving: we use it to solve problems in ways that would have be unimaginable only a few decades ago. An optimistic antidote for pessimism and fear, this book:

  • Helps to restore and reinforce our faith in the future
  • Documents and explains how global changes impact our present and influence our future
  • Discusses the costs and unforeseen consequences of some of the changes occurring in the modern world
  • Offers engaging narrative, accurate data and research, and an in-depth look at the best books on the topic by leading thinkers
  • Traces the history of economic progress and explores its consequences for human life around the world

Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance is a must-read for anyone who wishes to regain hope for the present and wants to build a better future.



Part I: The Great Betterment

Chapter 1 Right Here, Right Now

Part II: Fewer

Chapter 2 The Population Explosion, Malthus, and the Ghost of Christmas Present

Chapter 3 The Demographic Transition: Running Out of and Into People

Chapter 4 Having Fewer Children: “People Respond to Incentives”

Chapter 5 Age Before Beauty: Life in an Aging Society

Part III: Richer

Chapter 6 Before the Great Enrichment The Year 1 to 1750

Chapter 7 The Great Enrichment: 1750 to today

Chapter 8 Food

Chapter 9 Health and Longevity

Chapter 10 Energy: A BTU is a Unit of Work You Don’t Have to do

Chapter 11 Cities

Chapter 12 Education: The Third Democratization

Chapter 13 Conflict, Safety, and Freedom

Chapter 14 The Alleviation of Poverty

Part IV: Explorations

Chapter 15 Robots Don’t Work for Free: A meditation on technology and jobs

Chapter 16 The Mismeasurement of Growth: Why You Aren’t Driving a Model T

Chapter 17 The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie: Deirdre McCloskey, Capitalism, and Christian Ethics

Chapter 18 Simon and Ehrlich: Cornucopianism vs. the Limits to Growth

Chapter 19 Obstacles

Chapter 20 “He Shall Laugh”: Why Weren’t Our Ancestors Miserable All the Time?

Part V: Greener

Chapter 21 Prologue: Why poor is brown and rich is green

Chapter 22 A Skeptical Environmentalist: The greening world of Bjørn Lomborg

Chapter 23 Dematerialization: Where Did My Record Collection Go?

Chapter 24 “We are as gods”: The fertile mind of Stewart Brand

Chapter 25 Ecomodernism: A Way Forward

Chapter 26 Afterword

Reader’s Guide: Annotated Suggestions for Further Learning