Making the Modern World Materials and Dematerialization

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: Lulu Press, Inc
ISBN: 9781365581908
Release Date: 2016-12-04
Genre: Science

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

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 9781118697962
Release Date: 2013-10-02
Genre: Technology & Engineering

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.

Making the Modern World

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1119942535
Release Date: 2013-12-16
Genre: Business & Economics

"Aiming to elucidate the complexity of material flows of modern societies, their prerequisites and their consequences"--

Should We Eat Meat Evolution and Consequences of Modern Carnivory

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 9781118278697
Release Date: 2013-03-18
Genre: Technology & Engineering

Meat eating is often a contentious subject, whether considering the technical, ethical, environmental, political, or health-related aspects of production and consumption. This book is a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary examination and critique of meat consumption by humans, throughout their evolution and around the world. Setting the scene with a chapter on meat’s role in human evolution and its growing influence during the development of agricultural practices, the book goes on to examine modern production systems, their efficiencies, outputs, and impacts. The major global trends of meat consumption are described in order to find out what part its consumption plays in changing modern diets in countries around the world. The heart of the book addresses the consequences of the "massive carnivory" of western diets, looking at the inefficiencies of production and at the huge impacts on land, water, and the atmosphere. Health impacts are also covered, both positive and negative. In conclusion, the author looks forward at his vision of “rational meat eating”, where environmental and health impacts are reduced, animals are treated more humanely, and alternative sources of protein make a higher contribution. Should We Eat Meat? is not an ideological tract for or against carnivorousness but rather a careful evaluation of meat's roles in human diets and the environmental and health consequences of its production and consumption. It will be of interest to a wide readership including professionals and academics in food and agricultural production, human health and nutrition, environmental science, and regulatory and policy making bodies around the world.

Made in the USA

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262019385
Release Date: 2013-08-16
Genre: Business & Economics

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

Why America Is Not a New Rome

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262288293
Release Date: 2010-01-29
Genre: History

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.

Still the Iron Age

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann
ISBN: 9780128042359
Release Date: 2016-01-22
Genre: Technology & Engineering

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

Energy

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
ISBN: 9781786071347
Release Date: 2017-01-05
Genre: Science

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.

Harvesting the Biosphere

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262018562
Release Date: 2013
Genre: Nature

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.

Energy Transitions

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: ABC-CLIO
ISBN: 9780313381775
Release Date: 2010
Genre: Business & Economics

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

Feeding the World

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262692716
Release Date: 2001-08-24
Genre: Technology & Engineering

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.

Power Density

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262029148
Release Date: 2015-05-15
Genre: Science

The first systematic, quantitative appraisal of power density, offering detailed reviews of power densities of renewable energy flows, fossil fuels, and all common energy uses.

Transforming the Twentieth Century

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199883424
Release Date: 2006-04-13
Genre: History

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.

Natural Gas

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 9781119012849
Release Date: 2015-07-06
Genre: Science

Natural gas is the world’s cleanest fossil fuel; it generates less air pollution and releases less CO2 per unit of useful energy than liquid fuels or coals. With its vast supplies of conventional resources and nonconventional stores, the extension of long-distance gas pipelines and the recent expansion of liquefied natural gas trade, a truly global market has been created for this clean fuel. Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century discusses the place and prospects of natural gas in modern high-energy societies. Vaclav Smil presents a systematic survey of the qualities, origins, extraction, processing and transportation of natural gas, followed by a detailed appraisal of its many preferred, traditional and potential uses, and the recent emergence of the fuel as a globally traded commodity. The unfolding diversification of sources, particularly hydraulic fracturing, and the role of natural gas in national and global energy transitions are described. The book concludes with a discussion on the advantages, risks, benefits and costs of natural gas as a leading, if not dominant, fuel of the 21st century. This interdisciplinary text will be of interest to a wide readership concerned with global energy affairs including professionals and academics in energy and environmental science, policy makers, consultants and advisors with an interest in the rapidly-changing global energy industry.

The Man who Fed the World

Author: Leon F. Hesser
Publisher: Leon Hesser
ISBN: 1930754906
Release Date: 2006-01-01
Genre: Technology & Engineering

The Man Who Fed the World provides a loving and respectful portrait of one of America's greatest heroes. Nobel Peace Prize recipient for averting hunger and famine, Dr. Norman Borlang is credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives from starvation-more than any other person in history? Loved by millions around the world, Dr. Borlang is recognized as one of the most influential men of the twentieth century.