Feeling anxious, powerless or confused about the future of our planet? This book will transform how you see our biggest environmental problems – and how we can solve them
We are bombarded by doomsday headlines that tell us the soil won't be able to support crops, fish will vanish from our oceans, that we should reconsider having children.
But in this bold, radically hopeful book, data scientist Hannah Ritchie argues that if we zoom out, a very different picture emerges. The data shows we've made so much progress on these problems, and so fast, that we could be on track to achieve true sustainability for the first time in history.
Packed with the latest research, practical guidance and enlightening graphics, this book will make you rethink almost everything you've been told about the environment, from the virtues of eating locally and living in the countryside, to the evils of overpopulation, plastic straws and palm oil. It will give you the tools to understand what works, what doesn't and what we urgently need to focus on so we can leave a sustainable planet for future generations.
These problems are big. But they are solvable. We are not doomed. We can build a better future for everyone. Let's turn that opportunity into reality.
Dr Hannah Ritchie is a Senior Researcher in the Programme for Global Development at the University of Oxford. She is also Deputy Editor and Lead Researcher at the highly influential online publication Our World in Data, which brings together the latest data and research on the world's largest problems and makes it accessible to a general audience. Her research appears regularly in the New York Times, Economist, Financial Times, BBC, WIRED, New Scientist and Vox and in bestselling books including Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now, Hans Rosling's Factfulness and Bill Gates's How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. In 2022, Ritchie was named Scotland's Youth Climate Champion and New Scientist called her 'The woman who gave COVID-19 data to the world'.
"I love Hannah Ritchie [...] I love this book. I emerged from it feeling hopeful, which is a high-priced commodity these days"
– John Green
"An inspiring data-mine which gives us not only real guidance, but the most necessary ingredient of all: hope"
– Margaret Atwood, TED2023
"The climate and environmental crisis now has its Hans Rosling. Hannah Ritchie has charted an invigorating, inspiring, often surprising tour of recent human history and the many marks of progress it contains. Will the world make good on that optimism in the future? That is up to the rest of us"
– David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth
"It shines with practicality and positivity [...] Let's get it into the hands of as many policy makers, politicians and fellow citizens as possible"
– Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind: A Hopeful History
"Such a clear-eyed view of the state we're in"
– Tim Harford, author of How to Make the World Add Up
"A refreshing perspective on the problems that the world faces, providing plenty of optimism while not sugar-coating the deep structural challenges at the root of it all"
– Helen Czerski, author of Blue Machine
"Data is a superpower. Let Hannah Ritchie show you the world as it really is. Then go out and change it for the better"
– Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees
"Some deny there are environmental problems, others deny that we can solve them. Hannah Ritchie reveals that they are both wrong"
– Johan Norberg, author of In Defense of Global Capitalism and Progress
"A refreshingly upbeat guide to achieving sustainability"
– Gaia Vince, author of Nomad Century
"The surprising message in the data is that human civilization is far along toward solving planetary problems"
– Stewart Brand, founder of Whole Earth Catalog and author of Whole Earth Discipline
"Written in chatty, lucid prose, this is a book for anyone who finds it difficult to believe in a better future. It's the most uplifting book I've read all year"
– The Times
"A fascinating memoir"
– New Scientist