Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Lulu Press, Inc

ISBN: 136558190X

Category: Science

Page: 1244

View: 3198

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.

Making the Modern World

Materials and Dematerialization

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 1118697960

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 248

View: 329

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 as well as their dominant applications. The evolving productivities of material extraction, processing, synthesis, finishing and distribution, and the energy costs and environmental impact of rising material consumption are examined in detail. The book concludes with an outlook for the future, discussing the prospects for dematerialization and potential constrains on materials. This interdisciplinary text provides useful perspectives for readers with backgrounds including resource economics, environmental studies, energy analysis, mineral geology, industrial organization, manufacturing and material science.

Still the Iron Age

Iron and Steel in the Modern World

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann

ISBN: 0128042354

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 280

View: 3820

Although the last two generations have seen an enormous amount of attention paid to advances in electronics, the fact remains that high-income, high-energy societies could thrive without microchips, etc., but, by contrast, could not exist without steel. Because of the importance of this material to comtemporary civilization, a comprehensive resource is needed for metallurgists, non-metallurgists, and anyone with a background in environmental studies, industry, manufacturing, and history, seeking a broader understanding of the history of iron and steel and its current and future impact on society. Given its coverage of the history of iron and steel from its genesis to slow pre-industrial progress, revolutionary advances during the 19th century, magnification of 19th century advances during the past five generations, patterns of modern steel production, the ubiquitous uses of the material, potential substitutions, advances in relative dematerialization, and appraisal of steel’s possible futures, Still the Iron Age: Iron and Steel in the Modern World by world-renowned author Vaclav Smil meets that need. Incorporates an interdisciplinary discussion of the history and evolution of the iron- and steel-making industry and its impact on the development of the modern world Serves as a valuable contribution because of its unique perspective that compares steel to technological advances in other materials, perceived to be important Discusses how we can manufacture smarter rather than deny demand Explores future opportunities and new efforts for sustainable development in the industry

Should We Eat Meat?

Evolution and Consequences of Modern Carnivory

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 1118278690

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 280

View: 6746

Meat eating is often a contentious subject, whether consideringthe technical, ethical, environmental, political, or health-relatedaspects of production and consumption. This book is a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary examinationand critique of meat consumption by humans, throughout theirevolution and around the world. Setting the scene with a chapter onmeat’s role in human evolution and its growing influenceduring the development of agricultural practices, the book goes onto examine modern production systems, their efficiencies, outputs,and impacts. The major global trends of meat consumption aredescribed in order to find out what part its consumption plays inchanging modern diets in countries around the world. The heart ofthe book addresses the consequences of the "massive carnivory" ofwestern diets, looking at the inefficiencies of production and atthe huge impacts on land, water, and the atmosphere. Health impactsare also covered, both positive and negative. In conclusion, theauthor looks forward at his vision of “rational meateating”, where environmental and health impacts are reduced,animals are treated more humanely, and alternative sources ofprotein make a higher contribution. Should We Eat Meat? is not an ideological tract for oragainst carnivorousness but rather a careful evaluation of meat'sroles in human diets and the environmental and health consequencesof its production and consumption. It will be of interest to a widereadership including professionals and academics in food andagricultural production, human health and nutrition, environmentalscience, and regulatory and policy making bodies around theworld.

Feeding the World

A Challenge for the Twenty-First Century

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 9780262692717

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 360

View: 1466

A realistic yet encouraging look at how society can change in ways that will allow us to feed an expanding global population. 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

A Beginner's Guide

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

ISBN: 1786071347

Category: Science

Page: 240

View: 2541

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.

Power Density

A Key to Understanding Energy Sources and Uses

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262326930

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 5799

"There's no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil." -- Bill GatesIn this book, Vaclav Smil argues that power density is a key determinant of the nature and dynamics of energy systems. Any understanding of complex energy systems must rely on quantitative measures of many fundamental variables. Power density -- the rate of energy flux per unit of area -- is an important but largely overlooked measure. Smil provides the first systematic, quantitative appraisal of power density, offering detailed reviews of the power densities of renewable energy flows, fossil fuels, thermal electricity generation, and all common energy uses.Smil shows that careful quantification, critical appraisals, and revealing comparisons of power densities make possible a deeper understanding of the ways we harness, convert, and use energies. Conscientious assessment of power densities, he argues, proves particularly revealing when contrasting the fossil fuel--based energy system with renewable energy conversions. Smil explains that modern civilization has evolved as a direct expression of the high power densities of fossil fuel extraction. He argues that our inevitable (and desirable) move to new energy arrangements involving conversions of lower-density renewable energy sources will require our society -- currently dominated by megacities and concentrated industrial production -- to undergo a profound spatial restructuring of its energy system.

Global Catastrophes and Trends

The Next 50 Years

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262195860

Category: Science

Page: 307

View: 4168

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.

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: 6051

The compelling history of the long-sought discovery of ammonia synthesis and its vital role in the modern industrial world.

Energy and Civilization

A History

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262338319

Category: Science

Page: 568

View: 5782

"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 Myths and Realities

Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Government Institutes

ISBN: 9780844743455

Category: Science

Page: 232

View: 1839

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.

Transforming the Twentieth Century

Technical Innovations and Their Consequences

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780198037750

Category: History

Page: 368

View: 8848

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.

Stuff Matters

Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World

Author: Mark Miodownik

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: 0544237048

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 7584

New York Times Bestseller • New York Times Notable Book 2014 • Winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books “A thrilling account of the modern material world.” —Wall Street Journal "Miodownik, a materials scientist, explains the history and science behind things such as paper, glass, chocolate, and concrete with an infectious enthusiasm." —Scientific American Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that renowned materials scientist Mark Miodownik constantly asks himself. Miodownik studies objects as ordinary as an envelope and as unexpected as concrete cloth, uncovering the fascinating secrets that hold together our physical world. In Stuff Matters, Miodownik explores the materials he encounters in a typical morning, from the steel in his razor to the foam in his sneakers. Full of enthralling tales of the miracles of engineering that permeate our lives, Stuff Matters will make you see stuff in a whole new way. "Stuff Matters is about hidden wonders, the astonishing properties of materials we think boring, banal, and unworthy of attention...It's possible this science and these stories have been told elsewhere, but like the best chocolatiers, Miodownik gets the blend right." —New York Times Book Review

China's Past, China's Future

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1134377681

Category: History

Page: 256

View: 4619

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.

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: 4676

An argument that America's economy needs a strong and innovative manufacturing sector and the jobs it creates.

Harvesting the Biosphere

What We Have Taken from Nature

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 026201856X

Category: Nature

Page: 307

View: 997

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.

Creating the Twentieth Century

Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand

ISBN: 0195168747

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 350

View: 9240

The two pre-World War I generations encompassed the greatest innovative period in history. Technical inventions of 1867-1914 & their rapid improvement & commercialisation created new prime movers, materials, infrastructures & information means that provided the lasting foundations of the modern world.

Oil - A Beginner's Guide 2nd edition

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

ISBN: 1786072874

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 224

View: 6691

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.

Why America Is Not a New Rome

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 026228829X

Category: History

Page: 240

View: 2908

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.Smil, a scientist and a lifelong student of Roman history, focuses 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; 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.