Vaclav Smil Books In Order

Non-Fiction Books In Publication Order

  1. Energy In The Developing World: The Real Energy Crisis (1980)
  2. Energy Analysis And Agriculture: An Application To U.s. Corn Production (With: Paul Nachman,Thomas V. Long) (1982)
  3. Biomass Energies: Resources, Links, Constraints (1983)
  4. The Bad Earth: Environmental Degradation In China (1984)
  5. Energy, Food, Environment: Realities, Myths, Opinions (1987)
  6. Energy In China’s Modernization: Advances And Limitations (1988)
  7. General Energetics: Energy in the Biosphere and Civilization (1991)
  8. China’s Environmental Crisis: An Enquiry Into the Limits of National Development (1993)
  9. Global Ecology: Environmental Change and Social Flexibility (1993)
  10. Energy In World History (1994)
  11. Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization (1998)
  12. Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production (2000)
  13. Feeding the World (2000)
  14. The Earth’s Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002)
  15. Energy at the Crossroads: Global Perspectives and Uncertainties (2003)
  16. China’s Past, China’s Future (2003)
  17. Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact (2004)
  18. Transforming the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations and Their Consequences: Technical Innovations and Their Consequences v. 2 (2006)
  19. Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems (2007)
  20. Oil: A Beginner’s Guide (2008)
  21. Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next 50 Years (2008)
  22. Why America Is Not a New Rome (2010)
  23. Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects (2010)
  24. Oil Resources Production Uses Impacts (2010)
  25. Prime Movers of Globalization: The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines (2010)
  26. Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate (2010)
  27. Japan’s Dietary Transition and Its Impacts (With: Kazuhiko Kobayashi) (2012)
  28. Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Taken from Nature (2012)
  29. Carbon-Nitrogen-Sulfur: Human Interference in Grand Biospheric Cycles (2012)
  30. Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization (2013)
  31. Should We Eat Meat?: Evolution and Consequences of Modern Carnivory (2013)
  32. Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing (2013)
  33. Power Density: A Key to Understanding Energy Sources and Uses (2015)
  34. Natural Gas (2015)
  35. Still the Iron Age: Iron and Steel in the Modern World (2016)
  36. Energy and Civilization: A History (2017)
  37. Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities (2019)
  38. Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Things You Need to Know About the World (2020)
  39. Grand Transitions: How the Modern World Was Made (2021)

Oneworld Beginners’ Guides Books In Publication Order

  1. Energy: A Beginner’s Guide (2006)
  2. Nutrition (By:Sarah Brewer) (2012)

Scientific American Library Books In Publication Order

  1. Powers of Ten (By:Philip Morrison,Phylis Morrison) (1982)
  2. Cycles of Life: Civilization and the Biosphere (1996)

Non-Fiction Book Covers

Oneworld Beginners’ Guides Book Covers

Scientific American Library Book Covers

Vaclav Smil Books Overview

Energy, Food, Environment: Realities, Myths, Opinions

This book rigorously surveys recent developments in the fields of energy, food, and enviroment, peeling back many of the myths and fallacies that have grown up around them. The author examines the major controversies shrouding these elements and analyzes the environmental consequences of obtaining sufficient energy and food by taking a close look at the three key biogeochemical cycles carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur most affected by human action.

General Energetics: Energy in the Biosphere and Civilization

This volume examines all 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 as all segments of energetics are examined, from 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. The book concludes with general patterns and trends of energy use today, their impact on the environment and socio economic considerations.

China’s Environmental Crisis: An Enquiry Into the Limits of National Development

In 1982, Vaclav Smil turned upside down traditional perceptions of China as a green paradise in ‘The Bad Earth’, a disturbing book. This new volume, drawn on a much broader canvas, updates and expands on the basic arguments and perceptions of ‘The Bad Earth’. This book is not a systematic litany of what went wrong and how much but rather an inquiry into the fundamental factors, needs, prospects, and limits of modern Chinese society, all seen through the critical environmental constraints and impacts.

Global Ecology: Environmental Change and Social Flexibility

The magnitude and rapidity of global environmental degradation threatens the perpetuation of life on Earth. Yet our understanding of biospheric change may not be sophisticated enough to adopt the long term management strategies necessary to put modern civilization on a sustainable basis. Global Ecology evaluates the current state of knowledge concerning biospheric change, recognising the limits of scientific studies and quantitative modelling, and analysing the weaknesses and uncertainties of our environmental understanding. A critical assessment of existential needs, this discusses the levels of food, energy, water and materials necessary to support a decent quality of life. Global Ecology juxtaposes the encouraging potential for effective solutions with the numerous environmental, technical and social obstacles that limit and counteract efforts to improve our management of natural resources and reduce environmental degradation. With a strong plea to preserve flexibility of adaptive actions in managing the transition to a more sustainable society, the author leads the reader to a greater understanding of our ability to manage the effects of biospheric change.

Energy In World History

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.

Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization

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.

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

The industrial synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen has been of greater fundamental importance to the modern world than the invention of the airplane, nuclear energy, space flight, or television. The expansion of the world’s population from 1.6 billion people in 1900 to today’s six billion would not have been possible without the synthesis of ammonia. In Enriching the Earth, Vaclav Smil begins with a discussion of nitrogen’s unique status in the biosphere, its role in crop production, and traditional means of supplying the nutrient. He then looks at various attempts to expand natural nitrogen flows through mineral and synthetic fertilizers. The core of the book is a detailed narrative of the discovery of ammonia synthesis by Fritz Haber a discovery scientists had sought for over one hundred years and its commercialization by Carl Bosch and the chemical company BASF. Smil also examines the emergence of the large scale nitrogen fertilizer industry and analyzes the extent of global dependence on the Haber Bosch process and its biospheric consequences. Finally, it looks at the role of nitrogen in civilization and, in a sad coda, describes the lives of Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch after the discovery of ammonia synthesis.

Feeding the World

This book addresses the question of how we can best feed the ten billion or so people who will likely inhabit the Earth by the middle of the twenty first century. He asks whether human ingenuity can produce enough food to support healthy and vigorous lives for all these people without irreparably damaging the integrity of the biosphere. What makes this book different from other books on the world food situation is its consideration of the complete food cycle, from agriculture to post harvest losses and processing to eating and discarding. Taking a scientific approach, Smil espouses neither the catastrophic view that widespread starvation is imminent nor the cornucopian view that welcomes large population increases as the source of endless human inventiveness. He shows how we can make more effective use of current resources and suggests that if we increase farming efficiency, reduce waste, and transform our diets, future needs may not be as great as we anticipate. Smil’s message is that the prospects may not be as bright as we would like, but the outlook is hardly disheartening. Although inaction, late action, or misplaced emphasis may bring future troubles, we have the tools to steer a more efficient course. There are no insurmountable biophysical reasons we cannot feed humanity in the decades to come while easing the burden that modern agriculture puts on the biosphere.

Energy at the Crossroads: Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

In Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil considers the twenty first century’s crucial question: how to reconcile the modern world’s unceasing demand for energy with the absolute necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. With this book he offers a comprehensive, accessible guide to today’s complex energy issues how to think clearly and logically about what is possible and what is desirable in our energy future. After a century of unprecedented production growth, technical innovation, and expanded consumption, the world faces a number of critical energy challenges arising from unequal resource distribution, changing demand patterns, and environmental limitations. The fundamental message of Energy at the Crossroads is that our dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced not because of any imminent resource shortages but because the widespread burning of oil, coal, and natural gas damages the biosphere and presents increasing economic and security problems as the world relies on more expensive supplies and Middle Eastern crude oil. Smil begins with an overview of the twentieth century’s long term trends and achievements in energy production. He then discusses energy prices, the real cost of energy, and ‘energy linkages’ the effect energy issues have on the economy, on quality of life, on the environment, and in wartime. He discusses the pitfalls of forecasting, giving many examples of failed predictions and showing that unexpected events can disprove complex models. And he examines the pros and cons not only of fossil fuels but also of alternative fuels such as hydroenergy, biomass energy, wind power, and solar power. Finally, he considers the future, focusing on what really matters, what works, what is realistic, and which outcomes are most desirable.

China’s Past, China’s Future

China has a population of 1.3 billion people which puts strain on her natural resources. This volume, by one of the leading scholars on the earth’s biosphere, is the result of a lifetime of study, and provides the fullest account yet of the environmental challenges that China faces. The author examines China’s energy resources, their uses, impacts and prospects, from the 1970s oil crisis to the present day, before analysing the key question of how China can best produce enough food to feed its enormous population.

Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact

The period between 1867 and 1914 remains the greatest watershed in human history since the emergence of settled agricultural societies: the time when an expansive civilization based on synergy of fuels, science, and technical innovation was born. At its beginnings in the 1870s were dynamite, the telephone, photographic film, and the first light bulbs. Its peak decade the astonishing 1880s brought electricity generating plants, electric motors, steam turbines, the gramophone, cars, aluminum production, air filled rubber tires, and prestressed concrete. And its post 1900 period saw the first airplanes, tractors, radio signals and plastics, neon lights and assembly line production. This book is a systematic interdisciplinary account of the history of this outpouring of European and American intellect and of its truly epochal consequences. It takes a close look at four fundamental classes of these epoch making innovations: formation, diffusion, and standardization of electric systems; invention and rapid adoption of internal combustion engines; the unprecedented pace of new chemical syntheses and material substitutions; and the birth of a new information age. These chapters are followed by an evaluation of the lasting impact these advances had on the 20th century, that is, the creation of high energy societies engaged in mass production aimed at improving standards of living.

Transforming the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations and Their Consequences: Technical Innovations and Their Consequences v. 2

This inquiry into the technical advances that shaped the 20th century follows the evolutions of all the principal innovations introduced before 1913 as detailed in the first volume as well as the origins and elaborations of all fundamental 20th century advances. The history of the 20th century is rooted in amazing technical advances of 1871 1913, but the century differs so remarkably from the preceding 100 years because of several unprecedented combinations. The 20th century had followed on the path defined during the half century preceding the beginning of World War I, but it has traveled along that path at a very different pace, with different ambitions and intents. The new century’s developments elevated both the magnitudes of output and the spatial distribution of mass industrial production and to new and, in many ways, virtually incomparable levels. Twentieth century science and engineering conquered and perfected a number of fundamental challenges which remained unresolved before 1913, and which to many critics appeared insoluble. This book is organized in topical chapters dealing with electricity, engines, materials and syntheses, and information techniques. It concludes with an extended examination of contradictory consequences of our admirable technical progress by confronting the accomplishments and perils of systems that brought liberating simplicity as well as overwhelming complexity, that created unprecedented affluence and equally unprecedented economic gaps, that greatly increased both our security and fears as well as our understanding and ignorance, and that provided the means for greater protection of the biosphere while concurrently undermining some of the key biophysical foundations of life on Earth. Transforming the Twentieth Century will offer a wide ranging interdisciplinary appreciation of the undeniable technical foundations of the modern world as well as a multitude of welcome and worrisome consequences of these developments. It will combine scientific rigor with accessible writing, thoroughly illustrated by a large number of appropriate images that will include historical photographs and revealing charts of long term trends.

Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems

‘Vaclav Smil’s appreciation of energy systems combines Thomas Edison and Franz Kafka. He celebrates innovation and progress but also vividly shows the strange fates and fall out of what appear to be some of humanity’s best machines.’ Jesse H. Ausubel, Director, Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University Jesse H. Ausubel

Oil: A Beginner’s Guide

Without oil, there would be no globalisation, no plastic, little transport, and a global political landscape that few would recognise. In this captivating book 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. Packed with fascinating facts and insight, this book will provide readers with the science and politics behind the world’s most controversial resource.

Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next 50 Years

A wide ranging, interdisciplinary look at global changes that may occur over the next fifty years whether sudden and cataclysmic world changing events or gradually unfolding trends.

Why America Is Not a New Rome

America’s post Cold War strategic dominance and its pre recession affluence inspired pundits to make celebratory comparisons to ancient Rome at its most powerful. Now, with America no longer perceived as invulnerable, engaged in protracted fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and suffering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, comparisons are to the bloated, decadent, ineffectual later Empire. In Why America Is Not a New Rome, Vaclav Smil looks at these comparisons in detail, going deeper than the facile analogy making of talk shows and glossy magazine articles. He finds profound differences. On the surface, the vision of America as the new Rome has resonance. There are obvious, intriguing parallels and amusing even disconcerting similarities. The America Rome analogy deserves a closer look, and this is what Smil, a scientist and a lifelong student of Roman history, offers. He does this by focusing on several fundamental concerns: the very meaning of empire; the actual extent and nature of Roman and American power; the role of knowledge and innovation in the two states and the importance of machines and energy sources; and demographic and economic basics population dynamics, illness, death, wealth, and misery. America is not a latter day Rome, Smil finds, and we need to understand this in order to look ahead without the burden of counterproductive analogies. Superficial similarities do not imply long term political, demographic, or economic outcomes identical to Rome’s.

Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects

Energy transitions are fundamental processes behind the evolution of human societies: they both drive and are driven by technical, economic, and social changes. In a bold and provocative argument, Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects describes the history of modern society’s dependence on fossil fuels and the prospects for the transition to a nonfossil world. Vaclav Smil, who has published more on various aspects of energy than any working scientist, makes it clear that this transition will not be accomplished easily, and that it cannot be accomplished within the timetables established by the Obama administration. The book begins with a survey of the basic properties of modern energy systems. It then offers detailed explanations of universal patterns of energy transitions, the peculiarities of changing energy use in the world’s leading economies, and the coming shifts from fossil fuels to renewable conversions. Specific cases of these transitions are analyzed for eight of the world’s leading energy consumers. The author closes with perspectives on the nature and pace of the coming energy transition to renewable conversions.

Prime Movers of Globalization: The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines

The many books on globalization published over the past few years range from claims that the world is flat to an unlikely rehabilitation of Genghis Khan as a pioneer of global commerce. Missing from these accounts is a consideration of the technologies behind the creation of the globalized economy. What makes it possible for us to move billions of tons of raw materials and manufactured goods from continent to continent? Why are we able to fly almost anywhere on the planet within twenty four hours? In Prime Movers of Globalization, Vaclav Smil offers a history of two key technical developments that have driven globalization: the high compression non sparking internal combustion engines invented by Rudolf Diesel in the 1890s and the gas turbines designed by Frank Whittle and Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain in the 1930s. The massive diesel engines that power cargo ships and the gas turbines that propel jet engines, Smil argues, are more important to the global economy than any corporate structure or international trade agreement. Smil compares the efficiency and scale of these two technologies to prime movers of the past, including the sail and the steam engine. The lengthy processes of development, commercialization, and diffusion that the diesel engine and the gas turbine went through, he argues, provide perfect examples of gradual technical advances that receive little attention but have resulted in epochal shifts in global affairs and the global economy.

Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate

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: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate debunks the most common fallacies to make way for a constructive, scientific approach to the global energy challenge. When will the world run out of oil? Should nuclear energy be adopted on a larger scale? Are ethanol and wind power viable sources of energy for the future? Vaclav Smil advises the public to be wary of exaggerated claims and impossible promises. The global energy transition will be prolonged and expensive_and hinges on the development of an extensive new infrastructure. Established technologies and traditional energy sources are persistent and adaptable enough to see the world through that transition. Energy Myths and Realities brings a scientific perspective to an issue often dominated by groundless assertions, unfounded claims, and uncritical thinking. Before we can create sound energy policies for the future, we must renounce the popular myths that cloud our judgment and impede true progress.

Energy: A Beginner’s Guide

In this user friendly and informative book, prolific author and academic Vaclav Smil provides an introduction to this far reaching term and gives the reader a greater understanding of energy’s place in both past and present society. Starting with an explanation of the concept, he goes on to cover such exciting topics as the inner workings of the human body, and the race for more efficient and environmentally friendly fuels. 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.

Powers of Ten (By:Philip Morrison,Phylis Morrison)

Over 100,000 copies of this spectacular journey have already been sold. In forty two consecutive scenes, each at a different ‘power of ten’ level of magnification, readers are taken from the dimension of one billion light years to the realm of the atom. The text and other illustrations depict what we can perceive at each progressively smaller level of magnitude. ‘A brilliant pictorial and textual embodiment of a wonderful idea.’ Stephen Jay Gould Videos of Powers of Ten are available from: RITELtd. Cross Tree, Walton Street, Walton in Gordano, Clevedon, Avon BS21 7AW Tel: 01275 340279 Fax: 01275 340327

Cycles of Life: Civilization and the Biosphere

Smil explores the scientific kernel in the mystical shell of the Gaia hypothesis. He describes how living organisms assure their survival by actively participating in the complex cycling of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur. He updates us on what has been learned about the complex interplay of human beings, other organisms, chemical reactions and geological changes in the Earth’s biosphere. Cycles of Life describes how biospheric cycles work, how we interfere in their natural flows, and how we could moderate or avert further deterioration.

Leave a Comment