Despite all our gains, poverty remains the biggest problem in the world today. It is the biggest problem because it immiserates people directly and also because it indirectly causes many other problems, including disease, brutality, ignorance, crime, and even environmental degradation. The central task before us is thus enabling economic growth.
There are many elements needed to secure economic growth. Certainly, people must be politically free to innovate, invest, build, and create things, and they must be incentivized to do so by knowing they can keep the rewards for their efforts. However, from a material point of view, the historical data strongly imply that the two most important factors enabling global economic growth are population and the ability to use carbon.
Note especially the last phrase. Couldn't agree more with this thought-provoking essay. Please read the whole thing.