Are Human Lives Improving?

In their 1968 book The Population Bomb, Paul and Anne Ehrlich warned of the dangers of overpopulation. These included mass starvation, societal upheaval and environmental ruin. This and other dire predictions about humankind earned Ehrlich a reputation as a prophet of doom, and fifty years later he doesn’t see much in the way of improvement. Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, on the other hand, prefers to look on the bright side: people are living longer, extreme poverty has been decreasing globally, worldwide literacy is on the rise. Is the glass half empty, or half full? Guests: Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; author, “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress” (Penguin, 2018) Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University; co-author, “The Population Bomb” (Ballantine, 1968) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

by Climate One