How Can We Be Better Ancestors?

When it comes to our finances, health, homes, and even the planet, it’s easy to avoid thinking long-term and focus instead on tomorrow, or maybe next week.

The results? Companies that fail to innovate end up failing altogether. Superbugs born out of the overuse of antibiotics endanger our health. Natural disasters turn deadly for towns that failed to take precautions. This tendency to put off hard decisions threatens the economy, politics, even our very survival, as Bina Venkataraman explains in her recent TED talk.

As an adviser in the Obama administration, Venkataraman helped communities and businesses prepare for climate change. She learned firsthand why people don’t think ahead—and what can be done to change that. In her new book The Optimist’s Telescope, she combines her reporting from around the world with new research to explain how we can make decisions that benefit us over time. Rejecting the idea that human nature is impossibly reckless, she argues that we can individually, and as a society, adopt some surprising practices to help us confront the future—and leave the best possible world for those who will come after us.

On September 24, 2019, New America's Fellows Program and Future Tense in Washington, DC presented a conversation with Bina Venkataraman, author of The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age and New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali on how we can become better ancestors.


Bina Venkataraman, Class of 2016 National & Future Tense Fellow, New America Director of Global Policy Initiatives, Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard Author, The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age

Wajahat Ali, New York Times Contributing Op-ed Writer CNN Contributor Playwright, The Domestic Crusaders

Moderated by James Fallows, @JamesFallows National Correspondent, The Atlantic Board Member, New America

September 24, 2019
Run time
New America
Presented by:
Future Tense