From the New Yorker, did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have it better? John Lanchester on the case against civilization. Samuel Moyn reviews Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States by James C. Scott (and more and more and more and more). Wayne J Hankey (Dalhousie): We Have Come to a Certain End of Western Civilization: Endings and Beginnings. Rachel Nuwer on how western civilization could collapse. How vulnerable are we to collapse? Archaeologists are plumbing the human experience to find out how various societies have responded to changes in climate, shifts in food resources, and natural hazards — among other challenges to human survival. How to survive the next catastrophic pandemic. Warning of “ecological Armageddon” after dramatic plunge in insect numbers. Are mass extinctions periodic, and if so, are we due for one? Ron Hogan is waiting for the end of the world.

Seth D. Baum and Anthony M. Barrett (GCRI): Global Catastrophes: The Most Extreme Risks. Stephen Gardiner (Washington): Accepting Collective Responsibility for the Future. Can universities save us from disaster? Nicholas Maxwell wonders. Craig S. Lerner (George Mason): The Tower of Babel Revisited: Global Governance as a Problematic Solution to Existential Threats. When will the Earth try to kill us again? A good exit: What to do about the end of our species? We have a pretty good idea of when humans will go extinct.

The year in apocalypses: There comes a moment, and perhaps it has come in 2017, when I need to believe something better is coming. A utopia for a dystopian age: Our impulse to imagine better worlds has nearly been extinguished — but we desperately need a new vision of inhabiting the planet. Utopia Inc: Most utopian communities are, like most start-ups, short-lived. What’s your utopia? Imagining an ideal world can help us make this world better.