WorldCat Identities

Smil, Vaclav

Works: 137 works in 729 publications in 5 languages and 40,253 library holdings
Genres: History  Longitudinal studies 
Roles: Author, Editor, Contributor
Publication Timeline
Most widely held works by Vaclav Smil
Global catastrophes and trends : the next 50 years by Vaclav Smil( )

27 editions published between 2008 and 2017 in English and Czech and held by 2,908 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

From the Publisher: 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. This is not a book of forecasts or scenarios but one that reminds us to pay attention to, and plan for, the consequences of apparently unpredictable events and the ultimate direction of long-term trends. Smil first looks at rare but cataclysmic events, both natural and human-produced, then at trends of global importance: the transition from fossil fuels to other energy sources; demographic and political shifts in Europe, Japan, Russia, China, the United States, and Islamic nations; the battle for global primacy; 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, relying on long-term historical perspectives and a distaste for the rigid compartmentalization of knowledge, Smil argues that understanding change will help us reverse negative trends and minimize the risk of catastrophe
Feeding the world : a challenge for the twenty-first century by Vaclav Smil( )

18 editions published between 2000 and 2002 in English and held by 2,747 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"This book differs from other books on the world food situation in 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."--Jacket
Energies : an illustrated guide to the biosphere and civilization by Vaclav Smil( )

21 editions published between 1998 and 2009 in English and Spanish and held by 2,602 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"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." "In this 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. 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."--Jacket
The earth's biosphere : evolution, dynamics, and change by Vaclav Smil( )

12 editions published between 2002 and 2003 in English and held by 2,263 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"In his latest book, Vaclav Smil tells the story of the Earth's biosphere from its origins to its long-term future. He explains the workings of its parts and what is known about their interactions. He examines the biosphere's physics, chemistry, biology, geology, oceanography, energy, climatology, and ecology, as well as the changes caused by human activity. He provides both the basics of the story and surprising asides illustrating critical but often neglected aspects of biospheric complexity."--Jacket
Energy at the crossroads : global perspectives and uncertainties by Vaclav Smil( )

22 editions published between 2003 and 2005 in English and held by 2,041 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This text considers the 21st 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
Why America is not a new Rome by Vaclav Smil( )

14 editions published between 2010 and 2014 in English and held by 1,961 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"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."--Jacket
Two prime movers of globalization : the history and impact of diesel engines and gas turbines by Vaclav Smil( )

9 editions published in 2010 in English and held by 1,840 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"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."--Jacket
Made in the USA : the rise and retreat of American manufacturing by Vaclav Smil( )

13 editions published between 2013 and 2015 in English and held by 1,749 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"In Made in the USA, Vaclav Smil powerfully rebuts the notion that manufacturing is a relic of predigital history and that the loss of American manufacturing is a desirable evolutionary step toward a pure service economy. Smil argues that no advanced economy can prosper without a strong, innovative manufacturing sector and the jobs it creates. Reversing a famous information economy dictum, Smil argues that serving potato chips is not as good as making microchips. The history of manufacturing in America, Smil tells us, is a story of nation-building. He explains how manufacturing became a fundamental force behind America's economic, strategic, and social dominance. He describes American manufacturing's rapid rise at the end of the nineteenth century, its consolidation and modernization between the two world wars, its role as an enabler of mass consumption after 1945, and its recent decline. Some economists argue that shipping low-value jobs overseas matters little because the high-value work remains in the United States. But, asks Smil, do we want a society that consists of a small population of workers doing high-value-added work and masses of unemployed? Smil assesses various suggestions for solving America's manufacturing crisis, including lowering corporate tax rates, promoting research and development, and improving public education. Will America act to preserve and reinvigorate its manufacturing? It is crucial to our social and economic well-being; but, Smil warns, the odds are no better than even"--Publisher information
Enriching the earth : Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the transformation of world food production by Vaclav Smil( )

15 editions published between 2000 and 2004 in English and held by 1,501 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The industrial synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen, making possible artificial fertilizers, was of fundamental importance to the modern world. 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. The book 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 and its commercialization by Carl Bosch and the chemical company BASF
China's past, China's future : energy, food, environment by Vaclav Smil( )

19 editions published between 2003 and 2007 in English and Undetermined and held by 1,485 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

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 a full account 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 by Vaclav Smil( )

26 editions published between 2004 and 2005 in English and held by 1,420 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"The greatest technical discontinuity in history took place between 1867 and 1914. This era was distinguished by the most extraordinary concatenation of a large number of scientific and technical advances the synergy of which produced bold and imaginative innovations as well as ingenious improvements of older ideas, by the rapidity with which these innovations were improved after their introduction, by their prompt commercial adoption and widespread diffusion, and by the extent of the resulting socio-economic impacts." "Most of these innovations were greatly improved by subsequent research and development and some were superseded - but no post-WWI period ever equaled the epoch-making impact of pre-1914 technical advances that created the very foundations of modern civilization. This interdisciplinary book systematically traces and explains the genesis, evolution and lasting consequences of this great technical saltation."--Jacket
Harvesting the biosphere : what we have taken from nature by Vaclav Smil( )

15 editions published between 2013 and 2015 in English and held by 1,388 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"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."--Jacket
Energy transitions : history, requirements, prospects by Vaclav Smil( )

13 editions published between 2010 and 2016 in English and held by 1,314 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Describes the history of modern society's dependence on fossil fuels and the prospects for the transition to a nonfossil world. Vaclav Smil 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. --from publisher description
Energy in nature and society : general energetics of complex systems by Vaclav Smil( )

14 editions published in 2008 in English and held by 1,277 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

A comprehensive, systematic, analytically unified, and interdisciplinary treatment of energy in nature and society, from solar radiation and photosynthesis to our fossil fueled civilization and its environmental consequences
Japan's dietary transition and its impacts by Vaclav Smil( )

11 editions published in 2012 in English and held by 1,267 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"In a little more than a century, the Japanese diet has undergone a dramatic transformation. In 1900, a plant-based, near-subsistence diet was prevalent, with virtually no consumption of animal protein. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Japan's consumption of meat, fish, and dairy had increased markedly (although it remained below that of high-income Western countries). This dietary transition was a key aspect of the modernization that made Japan the world's second largest economic power by the end of the twentieth century, and it has helped Japan achieve an enviable demographic primacy, with the world's highest life expectancy and a population that is generally healthier (and thinner) than that of other modern affluent countries. In this book, Vaclav Smil and Kazuhiko Kobayashi examine Japan's gradual but profound dietary change and investigate its consequences for health, longevity, and the environment."--Publisher's description
Should we eat meat? : evolution and consequences of modern carnivory by Vaclav Smil( )

16 editions published in 2013 in English and held by 1,034 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"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."--Publisher's description
Energy myths and realities : bringing science to the energy policy debate by Vaclav Smil( Book )

13 editions published between 2010 and 2012 in English and Japanese and held by 981 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Myth: New energy sources and technical innovations will eliminate the need for fossil fuels within a few decades. Reality: Comprehensive energy transitions take several generations. Myth: Carbon sequestration is the solution to global climate change. Reality: Because of its costs, technical challenges, and problems with social acceptance, carbon sequestration will not be able to prevent further substantial rise in carbon emissions. Myth: Electric cars will replace conventional automobiles in the near future. Reality: Electric cars are expensive, their adoption rate will be slow, and internal combustion engines will dominate the market for decades to come. These are just a few of the misconceptions about the future of global energy often presented as facts 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 addressing 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. Traditional energy sources and established energy conversions are persistent and adaptable enough to see the world through the 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
Cycles of life : civilization and the biosphere by Vaclav Smil( Book )

17 editions published between 1996 and 2001 in English and Dutch and held by 751 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Smil argues that several of today's principal environmental concerns - such as possible global warming, acid rain, photochemical smog, and the degradation of ecosystems - are tied to human interference in the biospheric cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur. Human society has always interfered in this cycling of elements, but industrialization and development worldwide have intensified the disruption, as burning fossil fuels spew carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur oxides into the air and crop fertilizers overload waters and ecosystems with nitrogen. From the broader perspective offered by this book's examination of biogeochemical cycles, Smil is able to explore the links among environment, energy, food, population, economy, and society that will determine how these interferences shape the planet's future
Making the modern world : materials and dematerialization by Vaclav Smil( )

17 editions published between 2013 and 2014 in English and Undetermined and held by 721 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"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 constraints on materials. This interdisciplinary text will provide useful perspectives for readers with backgrounds including resource economics, environmental studies, energy analysis, mineral geology, industrial organization, manufacturing, and material science"--
Transforming the twentieth century : technical innovations and their consequences by Vaclav Smil( Book )

23 editions published between 2005 and 2006 in English and held by 711 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Post-WWI inventions transformed the technical advances that created the modern world, & added new capabilities ranging from both military uses of nuclear energy to the universal diffusion of microprocessors. This book examines most of these technical transformations, & appraises their economic, social, & strategic impacts
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Why America is not a new Rome
Feeding the world : a challenge for the twenty-first centuryEnergies : an illustrated guide to the biosphere and civilizationThe earth's biosphere : evolution, dynamics, and changeEnergy at the crossroads : global perspectives and uncertaintiesWhy America is not a new RomeTwo prime movers of globalization : the history and impact of diesel engines and gas turbinesEnriching the earth : Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the transformation of world food productionChina's past, China's future : energy, food, environment
Alternative Names
Smil, Vaclav

Smil, Václav, 1943-

Vaclav Smil Canadees geograaf

Vaclav Smil kanadischer Geograph

ואצלב סמיל

스밀, 바츨라프 1943-

シュミル, バーツラフ

スミル, ヴァーツラフ

スミル, バーツラフ

English (325)

Spanish (3)

Japanese (2)

Dutch (2)

Czech (1)