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New documentary series offers optimistic glimpse into Earth's future: 'As long as humanity has existed, so has hope'

"Showing what the future can be is critical to getting there."

"Showing what the future can be is critical to getting there."

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A new documentary series on PBS is showing a hopeful vision of the planet's future and presenting a notable shift from the predictions of doom and devastation that typically follow discussion of life on Earth in the years to come. 

"A Brief History of the Future," hosted by futurist Ari Wallach, aims to look at solutions to existential threats and examine how choices we can make today can have a remarkable impact on the lives of future generations. 

"We want to create an inspiring counterpoint to the doomerism and dystopia that dominates much of today's public discourse about the future," Wallach said.

The documentary hopes to demonstrate what can be achieved if we all work together to ensure a better tomorrow. The six-part series will look at history, science, technology, and uplifting stories and feature contributions from notable figures such as French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, musician Grimes, and soccer star Kylian Mbappé.

"Showing what the future can be is critical to getting there," said executive producer Kathryn Murdoch. "People need to have hope and to understand what we're capable of. From AI to floating cities, restoring coral reefs to deliberative democracy, there are so many exciting futures to explore." 

Indeed, much of our news cycle focuses on the devastating effects of rising global temperatures. It's easy to get caught up in despair rather than hoping small changes we make to reduce pollution — like installing solar panels, driving an electric vehicle, and avoiding single-use plastics — can lead to a positive future. 

"A Brief History of the Future" intends to look at what we can achieve rather than what we could lose, showcasing existing projects and technologies that are making a difference now and looking forward to upcoming developments that could shape how we proceed as a species. 

"As long as humanity has existed, so has hope," said executive producer Wendy Schmidt.

"A Brief History of the Future" airs on Wednesdays through May 8 on PBS, starting at 9 p.m. ET.

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