Science fiction author and essayist David Brin proposes an optimistic outlook. He offers good reasons for optimism in his article. Most notably, as most people seem determined to forget, the war on poverty is actually going well.
Here is yet more news that shatters the cynical incantations and pat nostrums of both the right and the left. In April, the Development Committee of the World Bank set the goal of ending extreme poverty worldwide by the year 2030. Does that sound naive and delusionally utopian? Jeffrey Sachs in the New York Times shows a strong case that this goal can (roughly) be met and indeed is being met.
“According to the World Bank’s scorecard, the proportion of households in developing countries below the extreme-poverty line (now measured as $1.25 per person per day at international prices) has declined sharply, from 52 percent in 1980, to 43 percent in 1990, 34 percent in 1999, and 21 percent in 2010. Even sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the most recalcitrant poverty, is finally experiencing a notable decline, from 58 percent in 1999 to 49 percent in 2010.”
Though his article doesn’t mention climate change, Brin is well aware of it, as reading his latest novel makes clear. And his Facebook gloss for the article claims:
In fact, there is strong reason to believe that restored faith in incrementally pragmatic progress will continue to deliver the goods and even tackle dangerous threats like climate change.
Without becoming too sanguine about the marketplace functioning automatically, it’s worth thinking about how we can actually implement all the progress that is in the pipelines on the climate front. The important thing to understand is that technical solutions, while they may exist, are not enough. Net carbon emissions must stop. Progress is good at adding new items to the mix, but what we have to do now is remove old items from the mix. It’s a harder problem. But it’s not impossible – failure is really not an acceptable outcome, and in the end people will not accept it.