WE have known for many years about the damage that humans have been doing to the environment in which we live and upon which we depend.

Have we been paying attention? Have we been changing our ways?

When I was writing The Earth and Us a few years ago, I tried to be optimistic, recognising what was wrong but also noting numerous opportunities for doing things better.

The message that we often hear, however, is one of doom, with alarming predictions.

This has left some young people needlessly scared and left others in despair, fearing that nothing can – or will – be done. Others just switch off.

Seeking to redress this pessimism comes Hannah Ritchie with Not the End of the World.

In this book, which wins praise from Bill Gates, Tim Harford, Mark Lynas and others, she strikes a more positive note.

She recognises the severity of the present situation, but goes on to show how much has been achieved in recent years towards reversing the trend of environmental damage.

Across a range of issues, the data shows that great progress has been made: "We have the opportunity to be the first generation that leaves the planet in a better state than we found it."

It may not be quite as easy as Ritchie makes out. The way ahead may require populations to accept higher taxes and higher prices, and/or lifestyle changes.

However, her positive message is honest and realistic, and more uplifting and inspiring than the doom. Our message could be positive: the Future is Green.

Come aboard, for a life that is more fulfilling and satisfying, a life that takes account of the world as it is, a life that values nature and cares about the future.

Henry Haslam is the author of The Earth and Us.