As a life-long social democrat and positivist I've always believed that the world gets better as history marches on and growth brings with it better health care, longer life-spans and a more tolerant society. This is why I find myself in endless arguments with my greener wife, children and friends.
I found English Philosopher John Gray's book "Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings" unsettling. According to Gray, "The idea of progress is detrimental to the life of the spirit, because it encourages us to view our lives, not under the aspect of eternity, but as moments in a universal process of betterment. We do not, therefore, accept our lives for what they are, but instead consider them always for what they may someday become."
Gray believes that the "dawn of the age of endless expansion" is "perhaps the most vulgar idea ever put before suffering humankind."