One of the biggest challenges in concocting an optimistic near-future setting is just figuring out how we're going to solve the environmental and economic challenges we're facing. Peak oil. Climate change. And so on. So reading Australian professor Peter C. Doherty's optimistic history of the world, as of 2050, is like soaking your brain into a nice warm bath. It turns out we're going to use biopolymers and new, super-efficient solar power derived from copying the natural processes of ocean life to solve all our fossil fuel problems. And everybody's going to come together and agree to play nice. That's a relief. [The Conversation]