It's a sea of pessimism out there, as a great number of people believe mankind has either begun or is on the verge of decline. Matt Ridley sets them straight in The Rational Optimist.
This is not your typical ivory-towered, academic author. Ridley was the chairman of the bank Northern Rock at the time of its collapse in 2007! This book has nothing to do with that though. Ridley is clearly extremely well-read, as he references and discusses a number of aspects of human history, and makes the case that we have a lot to be optimistic about.
I already agreed with his conclusions, so part of the book was an exercise in feel-good confirmation bias, particularly on the topics of specialization and trade. But the book was still a great learning experience for me because of the range of topics in which Ridley is able to tackle with seeming expertise. I think the book is a must-read for the chapter on climate change alone!
Thanks to reader Juan for making this recommendation.