It's Better Than It Looks (Hardcover)

Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear

By Gregg Easterbrook

PublicAffairs, 9781610397414, 352pp.

Publication Date: February 20, 2018



Is civilization teetering on the edge of a cliff? Or are we just climbing higher than ever?
Most people who read the news would tell you that 2017 is one of the worst years in recent memory. We're facing a series of deeply troubling, even existential problems: fascism, terrorism, environmental collapse, racial and economic inequality, and more.
Yet this narrative misses something important: by almost every meaningful measure, the modern world is better than it ever has been. In the United States, disease, crime, discrimination, and most forms of pollution are in long-term decline, while longevity and education keep rising and economic indicators are better than in any past generation. Worldwide, malnutrition and extreme poverty are at historic lows, and the risk of dying by war or violence is the lowest in human history.
It's not a coincidence that we're confused--our perspectives on the world are blurred by the rise of social media, the machinations of politicians, and our own biases. Meanwhile, political reforms like the Clean Air Act and technological innovations like the hybridization of wheat have saved huge numbers of lives. In that optimistic spirit, Easterbrook offers specific policy reforms to address climate change, inequality, and other problems, and reminds us that there is real hope in conquering such challenges. In an age of discord and fear-mongering, It's Better Than It Looks will profoundly change your perspective on who we are, where we're headed, and what we're capable of.

About the Author

Gregg Easterbrook is the author of ten books, two of them New York Times Notable Books. He was a national correspondent for the Atlantic, and since then has been a contributing editor. He is a former visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution (dual fellowship in economics and in governance studies) and a distinguished fellow of the Fulbright Foundation. He often writes for the Atlantic (nine cover stories), New Republic (seventeen cover stories), and New York Times (thirty-three op-ed pieces and counting). He has been a politics columnist for Reuters and a sports columnist for ESPN. He has written for the New Yorker, Science, Wall Street Journal, Wired, Esquire, Washington Monthly, and Los Angeles Times.