Never before has humanity had such a wealth of material resources and technical and scientific expertise at its disposal. Overall, it has become rich and powerful beyond the imagination of anyone in former centuries. That it is any happier as a result has yet to be proved. Even so, there is no desire to turn back the clock: we are all aware that each new day brings with it ever more opportunities for personal and collective fulfillment. At the same time, it is no longer possible to believe that this accumulation of power can go on forever - in just the same way, according to some unchanging dictate of technical progress - without eventually rebounding on itself and putting humanity's physical and moral survival at risk. With each new day, the signs of potential catastrophe are emerging ever more clearly and worryingly. The only issues in doubt are which threats are the most immediate and which of the urgent problems should take priority. These threats and problems must be constantly borne in mind if we are to give ourselves a real chance of seeing today's promises come to fruition.