Abstract Undergraduate students ( N = 128) drew curves to reflect the perceived risk over time for nine environmental factors (population, food, water, environmental pollution, disease, genetic defect, mental disorder, nuclear power and nuclear war). Each curve began half-way up the y axis at the year 1982. Four upper time bounds (year) were employed: 2000, 3000, 4000 and 7000. Average statistical profiles were then developed to represent entire sets of curves. Subjects were most optimistic about disease factors and most pessimistic about nuclear power and nuclear war. The upper time limit seemed to have little effect on the results; these students' view of the future appears to be the same over relatively short (20 years) and very long (5, 000 years) time scales.