Search Results for "energy-and-civilization-a-history-mit-press"

Energy and Civilization

Energy and Civilization

A History

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 0262338319
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 568
  • View: 1217
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"I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next 'Star Wars' movie. In his latest book, Energy and Civilization: A History, he goes deep and broad to explain how innovations in humans' ability to turn energy into heat, light, and motion have been a driving force behind our cultural and economic progress over the past 10,000 years. -- Bill Gates, Gates Notes, Best Books of the Year Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows -- ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity -- for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel--driven civilization. Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts -- from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity's energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil's Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time.

Energy and Civilization

Energy and Civilization

A History

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: Mit Press
  • ISBN: 9780262536165
  • Category: History
  • Page: 568
  • View: 574
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Revised edition of: Energy in world history / Vaclav Smil. 1994.

Energy and Civilization

Energy and Civilization

A History

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 9780262035774
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 568
  • View: 9720
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A comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society throughout history, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel–driven civilization. "I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next 'Star Wars' movie. In his latest book, Energy and Civilization: A History, he goes deep and broad to explain how innovations in humans' ability to turn energy into heat, light, and motion have been a driving force behind our cultural and economic progress over the past 10,000 years. —Bill Gates, Gates Notes, Best Books of the Year Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows—ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity—for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel–driven civilization. Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts—from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity's energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil's Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time.

Energy at the Crossroads

Energy at the Crossroads

Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 9780262693240
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 427
  • View: 4891
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An objective, comprehensive treatment of the world's energy situation assesses the major trends in energy consumption across the globe while examining the potential of wind, solar, hydroenergy, and biomass energy. (Technology)

Made in the USA

Made in the USA

The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 0262019388
  • Category: Business & Economics
  • Page: 263
  • View: 3958
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An argument that America's economy needs a strong and innovative manufacturing sector and the jobs it creates.

Energy Transitions

Energy Transitions

History, Requirements, Prospects

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO
  • ISBN: 0313381771
  • Category: Business & Economics
  • Page: 178
  • View: 4992
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This bold and controversial argument shows why energy transitions are inherently complex and prolonged affairs, and how ignoring this fact raises unrealistic expectations that the United States and other global economies can be weaned quickly from a primary dependency on fossil fuels. * Includes case studies of energy transitions in eight nations * Presents graphs of energy transitions on global and national scales, showing both common features and idiosyncratic patterns * Features photographs of the containment vessel of America's first nuclear reactor and of a stationary gas turbine * Provides a thorough bibliography

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: Lulu Press, Inc
  • ISBN: 136558190X
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 1244
  • View: 1219
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How much further should the affluent world push its material consumption? Does relative dematerialization lead to absolute decline in demand for materials? These and many other questions are discussed and answered in Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization. Over the course of time, the modern world has become dependent on unprecedented flows of materials. Now even the most efficient production processes and the highest practical rates of recycling may not be enough to result in dematerialization rates that would be high enough to negate the rising demand for materials generated by continuing population growth and rising standards of living. This book explores the costs of this dependence and the potential for substantial dematerialization of modern economies. Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization considers the principal materials used throughout history, from wood and stone, through to metals, alloys, plastics and silicon, describing their extraction and production.

Harvesting the Biosphere

Harvesting the Biosphere

What We Have Taken from Nature

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 026201856X
  • Category: Nature
  • Page: 307
  • View: 467
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An interdisciplinary and quantitative account of human claims on the biosphere's stores of living matter, from prehistoric hunting to modern energy production. The biosphere--the Earth's thin layer of life--dates from nearly four billion years ago, when the first simple organisms appeared. Many species have exerted enormous influence on the biosphere's character and productivity, but none has transformed the Earth in so many ways and on such a scale as Homo sapiens. In Harvesting the Biosphere, Vaclav Smil offers an interdisciplinary and quantitative account of human claims on the biosphere's stores of living matter, from prehistory to the present day. Smil examines all harvests--from prehistoric man's hunting of megafauna to modern crop production--and all uses of harvested biomass, including energy, food, and raw materials. Without harvesting of the biomass, Smil points out, there would be no story of human evolution and advancing civilization; but at the same time, the increasing extent and intensity of present-day biomass harvests are changing the very foundations of civilization's well-being. In his detailed and comprehensive account, Smil presents the best possible quantifications of past and current global losses in order to assess the evolution and extent of biomass harvests. Drawing on the latest work in disciplines ranging from anthropology to environmental science, Smil offers a valuable long-term, planet-wide perspective on human-caused environmental change.

Oil - A Beginner's Guide 2nd edition

Oil - A Beginner's Guide 2nd edition

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications
  • ISBN: 1786072874
  • Category: Technology & Engineering
  • Page: 224
  • View: 3745
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Packed with fascinating facts and insight, this book will fuel dinner party debate, and provide readers with the science and politics behind the world’s most controversial resource. Without oil, there would be no globalisation, no plastic, little transport, and a global political landscape that few would recognise. It is the lifeblood of the modern world, and humanity’s dependence upon it looks set to continue for decades to come. In this captivating book, the author of the acclaimed Energy: A Beginner’s Guide, Vaclav Smil, explains all matters related to the ‘black stuff’, from its discovery in the earth, right through to the political maelstrom that surrounds it today.

Taming the Sun

Taming the Sun

Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet

  • Author: Varun Sivaram
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 0262345617
  • Category: Political Science
  • Page: 392
  • View: 1685
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Solar energy, once a niche application for a limited market, has become the cheapest and fastest-growing power source on earth. What's more, its potential is nearly limitless -- every hour the sun beams down more energy than the world uses in a year. But in Taming the Sun, energy expert Varun Sivaram warns that the world is not yet equipped to harness erratic sunshine to meet most of its energy needs. And if solar's current surge peters out, prospects for replacing fossil fuels and averting catastrophic climate change will dim. Innovation can brighten those prospects, Sivaram explains, drawing on firsthand experience and original research spanning science, business, and government. Financial innovation is already enticing deep-pocketed investors to fund solar projects around the world, from the sunniest deserts to the poorest villages. Technological innovation could replace today's solar panels with coatings as cheap as paint and employ artificial photosynthesis to store intermittent sunshine as convenient fuels. And systemic innovation could add flexibility to the world's power grids and other energy systems so they can dependably channel the sun's unreliable energy. Unleashing all this innovation will require visionary public policy: funding researchers developing next-generation solar technologies, refashioning energy systems and economic markets, and putting together a diverse clean energy portfolio. Although solar can't power the planet by itself, it can be the centerpiece of a global clean energy revolution. A Council on Foreign Relations Book

Energy in Nature and Society

Energy in Nature and Society

General Energetics of Complex Systems

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 0262693569
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 480
  • View: 6364
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Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the majorenergy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere andcivilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density andenergy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (thestudy of energy flows and their transformations). The book explores not only planetary energetics(such as solar radiation and geomorphic processes) and bioenergetics (photosynthesis, for example)but also human energetics (such as metabolism and thermoregulation), tracing them fromhunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included arechapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification,fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energeticsfor the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, andsocioeconomic considerations of energy use today, looking at correlations between energy and value,energy and the economy, energy and quality of life, and energy futures. Throughout the book, Smilchooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitiveoutcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides aunique, comprehensive, single-volume analysis and reference source on all important energy matters,from natural to industrial energy flows, from fuels to food, from the Earth's formation to possibleenergy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systemsscience, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University ofManitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth'sBiosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to theBiosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press.

Energy Myths and Realities

Energy Myths and Realities

Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: Government Institutes
  • ISBN: 9780844743455
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 232
  • View: 6737
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There are many misconceptions about the future of global energy often presented as fact by the media, politicians, business leaders, activists, and even scientists_wasting time and money and hampering the development of progressive energy policies. Energy Myths and Realities debunks the most common fallacies to make way for a constructive, scientific approach to the global energy challenge.

Energy

Energy

A Beginner's Guide

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications
  • ISBN: 1786071347
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 240
  • View: 7865
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With his famous equation, E=mc2, Einstein showed us that all matter can be described as energy. It is everywhere; it is everything. In this engaging introduction, renowned author and scientist Vaclav Smil covers a wide range of topics, from the inner workings of the human body to the race for more efficient and eco-friendly fuels. Shedding light on the science behind global warming and efforts to prevent it, and how our daily decisions affect energy consumption, this book highlights the importance of energy in both past and present societies. Whether you're after insight or dinner table conversation, Energy: A Beginner's Guide will amaze and inform, uncovering the science behind one of the most important concepts in our universe.

Global Catastrophes and Trends

Global Catastrophes and Trends

The Next 50 Years

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 0262195860
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 307
  • View: 7707
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Fundamental change occurs most often in one of two ways: as a "fatal discontinuity," a sudden catastrophic event that is potentially world changing, or as a persistent, gradual trend. Global catastrophes include volcanic eruptions, viral pandemics, wars, and large-scale terrorist attacks; trends are demographic, environmental, economic, and political shifts that unfold over time. In this provocative book, scientist Vaclav Smil takes a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary look at the catastrophes and trends the next fifty years may bring. Smil first looks at rare but cataclysmic events, both natural and human-produced, then at trends of global importance, including the transition from fossil fuels to other energy sources and growing economic and social inequality. He also considers environmental change -- in some ways an amalgam of sudden discontinuities and gradual change -- and assesses the often misunderstood complexities of global warming. Global Catastrophes and Trends does not come down on the side of either doom-and-gloom scenarios or techno-euphoria. Instead, Smil argues that understanding change will help us reverse negative trends and minimize the risk of catastrophe.

The Future Is Not What It Used to Be

The Future Is Not What It Used to Be

Climate Change and Energy Scarcity

  • Author: Jörg Friedrichs
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 0262316633
  • Category: Political Science
  • Page: 240
  • View: 2963
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The future is not what it used to be because we can no longer rely on the comforting assumption that it will resemble the past. Past abundance of fuel, for example, does not imply unending abundance. Infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible. In this book, Jörg Friedrichs argues that industrial society itself is transitory, and he examines the prospects for our civilization's coming to terms with its two most imminent choke points: climate change and energy scarcity. He offers a thorough and accessible account of these two challenges as well as the linkages between them.Friedrichs contends that industrial civilization cannot outlast our ability to burn fossil fuels and that the demise of industrial society would entail cataclysmic change, including population decreases. To understand the social and political implications, he examines historical cases of climate stress and energy scarcity: devastating droughts in the ancient Near East; the Little Ice Age in the medieval Far North; the Japanese struggle to prevent "fuel starvation" from 1918 to 1945; the "totalitarian retrenchment" of the North Korean governing class after the end of Soviet oil deliveries; and Cuba's socioeconomic adaptation to fuel scarcity in the 1990s. He draws important lessons about the likely effects of climate and energy disruptions on different kinds of societies.The warnings of climate scientists are met by denial and inaction, while energy experts offer little guidance on the effects of future scarcity. Friedrichs suggests that to confront our predicament we must affirm our core values and take action to transform our way of life. Whether we are private citizens or public officials, complacency is not an option: climate change and energy scarcity are emerging facts of life.

Energies

Energies

An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 9780262692359
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 210
  • View: 2110
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Energy is the only universal currency. One of its many forms must be transformed into another in order for stars to shine, planets to rotate, living things to grow, and civilizations to evolve. Recognition of this universality was one of the great achievements of nineteenth-century science, yet even today there is little literature that tries to view the world broadly through the prism of energy.In this highly original book, ecologist Vaclav Smil takes the principle of universality seriously, presenting a comprehensive and integrated survey of all the forms of energy that shape our world, from the sun to the human body, from bread to microchips. Written in a scientifically sophisticated yet accessible style, Energies consists of eighty-two short essays organized under six headings: Sun and Earth, Plants and Animals, People and Food, Preindustrial Societies, Fossil-Fueled Civilization, and Motion and Information. Each essay explains the science of the energy form as well as its implications for the functioning of the universe, life, or human society. Cross-links and summary diagrams allow easy comparisons among the various levels and flows of energy.

General Energetics

General Energetics

Energy in the Biosphere and Civilization

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: Wiley-Interscience
  • ISBN: N.A
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 369
  • View: 5009
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Presented here for the first time is a comprehensive, single-volume treatment of all the important aspects of biospheric civilizational energetics. The author uses measurements of energy and power densities and intensities throughout to provide an integrated framework of analysis. All segments of energetics are examined, including planetary energetics (solar radiation and geomorphic processes) and bioenergetics (photosynthesis) to human energetics (metabolism and thermoregulation) traced from hunting-gathering and agricultural societies through modern day industrial civilization. Concludes with general patterns, trends and socio-economic considerations of energy use today plus their impact on the environment.

Consuming Power

Consuming Power

A Social History of American Energies

  • Author: David E. Nye
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 0262261022
  • Category: Technology & Engineering
  • Page: 352
  • View: 6363
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How did the United States become the world's largest consumer of energy? David Nye shows that this is less a question about the development of technology than it is a question about the development of culture. In Consuming Power, Nye uses energy as a touchstone to examine the lives of ordinary people engaged in normal activities. He looks at how these activities changed as new energy systems were constructed, from colonial times to recent years. He also shows how, as Americans incorporated new machines and processes into their lives, they became ensnared in power systems that were not easily changed: they made choices about the conduct of their lives, and those choices accumulated to produce a consuming culture. Nye examines a sequence of large systems that acquired and then lost technological momentum over the course of American history, including water power, steam power, electricity, the internal-combustion engine, atomic power, and computerization. He shows how each system became part of a larger set of social constructions through its links to the home, the factory, and the city. The result is a social history of America as seen through the lens of energy consumption.

Energy In World History

Energy In World History

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • ISBN: 9780813319025
  • Category: History
  • Page: 300
  • View: 4500
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Every human activity entails the conversion of energy. Changes in the fundamental sources of energy, and in the use of energy sources, are a basic dimension of the evolution of society. Our appreciation of the significance of these processes is essential to a fuller understanding of world history.Vaclav Smil offers a comprehensive look at the role of energy in world history, ranging from human muscle-power in foraging societies and animal-power in traditional farming to preindustrial hydraulic techniques and modern fossil-fueled civilization. The book combines a vast historical sweep with cross-cultural comparisons and is enhanced by illustrations and accessible quantitative material. Students and general readers alike will gain an understanding of energy's fundamental role in human progress.Smil illuminates the role played by various means of harnessing energy in different societies and provides new insights by explaining the impact and limitations of these fundamental physical inputs—whether it is in the cultivation of crops, smelting of metals, waging of war, or the mass production of goods. While examining the energetic foundations of historical changes, Energy in World History avoids simplistic, deterministic views of energy needs and recognizes the complex interplay of physical and social realities.

Enriching the Earth

Enriching the Earth

Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production

  • Author: Vaclav Smil
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • ISBN: 9780262693134
  • Category: Technology & Engineering
  • Page: 338
  • View: 1689
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The compelling history of the long-sought discovery of ammonia synthesis and its vital role in the modern industrial world.