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Tyler Comrie for Vox

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Against doomerism

It’s boom times for doom times, but from artificial intelligence to climate change to food supplies, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic that the future will be better — if we make it so.

Bryan Walsh is an editorial director at Vox overseeing the climate, tech, and world teams, and is the editor of Vox’s Future Perfect section. He worked at Time magazine for 15 years as a foreign correspondent in Asia, a climate writer, and an international editor, and he wrote a book on existential risk.

From climate change to politics, a sense of pessimism about the direction of the world takes hold. To take just one example, according to one major international poll, a majority of young people agreed with the statement that “humanity is doomed.”

That pessimism is understandable given the chaotic state of the world as we see it presented to us. But it badly understates both the amazing material and political progress humanity has made over the past couple of centuries, and especially in the last few decades; and the realistic hope we should have for a future that won’t simply continue, but continue to get better.

That spirit — grounded in facts and realism, energized by what contributor Hannah Ritchie calls “changeable optimism” — is what animates this edition of The Highlight, created by the Future Perfect team at Vox. We hope our stories leave you a little more hopeful about the state of the world and its future — a future that is worth fighting for.

Tyler Comrie for Vox

The doomers are wrong about humanity’s future — and its past

The necessity of progress.

By Bryan Walsh

Image of a robot beneath a rainbow Tyler Comrie for Vox

The case for slowing down AI

Pumping the brakes on artificial intelligence could be the best thing we ever do for humanity.

By Sigal Samuel

Image of a flower beneath a rainbow Tyler Comrie for Vox

We need the right kind of climate optimism

Climate pessimism dooms us to a terrible future. Complacent optimism is no better.

By Hannah Ritchie

Tyler Comrie for Vox

Why the news is so negative — and what we can do about it

We can break the cycle of negativity bias in the media and get a more balanced view of the world.

By Dylan Matthews

How will we feed Earth’s rising population? Ask the Dutch.

The Netherlands’ hyper-efficient food system is both a triumph and a cautionary tale.

By Kenny Torrella

Native American histories show rebuilding is possible — and necessary — after catastrophe

What the medicine wheel, an Indigenous American model of time, shows about apocalypse.

By B.L. Blanchard


Editors: Bryan Walsh, Marina Bolotnikova, Elbert Ventura
Copy editors/fact-checkers: Elizabeth Crane, Kim Eggleston, Tanya Pai, Caitlin PenzeyMoog
Additional fact-checking: Anouck Dussaud, Sophie Hurwitz
Art direction: Dion Lee
Audience: Gabriela Fernandez, Shira Tarlo, Agnes Mazur
Production/project editors: Lauren Katz, Nathan Hall


Mud libraries hold the story of the Earth’s climate past — and foretell its future


How to talk to a loved one about their health


Why do we keep tabs on people we can’t stand?

View all stories in The Highlight