[eBook] Energy and Civilization: A History (The MIT Press)Author Smil, Vaclav (Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Manitoba) – Z55z.co

This is one of those books which should be widely read a concise explanation of energy as relates to society beginning with terms and definitions which most people do not consider Smil starts with the obvious but often overlooked statement that we on earth have no source of energy which is not provided by the sun in some form or another.From there, we start with the calculations regarding the number of calories any human needs to get through the day pretty basic and clearly explained values.This is followed by the overall history of energy in human society, beginning with foraging and scavenging societies, using human muscle energy in effective forms as a result of human reasoning tools Accompanied by largely effective sidebar notes, the narrative then progresses through the use of draft and ridden animal muscle, direct water and wind power, and then on to the use of stored solar energy in the form of carbon and radioactive fuels, to the present The fragility of society prior to modern use of those stored sources is eye opening and should serve as a corrective to anyone hoping to return to some romantic, pristine, autarky.I m sure this was not intended for the general audience the terminology and notation suggests and requires a certain level of education But at times Smil seems to change units of measure in what looks a bit of braggadocio Joules, calories, watts, any will do, but switching back and forth requires mental gymnastics and introduces the chance of errors there is no reason to make a book less understandable than the transfer of information requires.Similarly, there is no reason for the pedantry regarding the phrase Industrial Revolution I recall no one using the phrase to mean a revolution in X years As it was intended to mean a rapid change in many social arrangements, it was just that and is a useful shorthand for that phenomenon.Disregarding such caviling, we are, at well researched and well argued length, presented with the uncontroversial fact that we are consuming carbon energy resources far beyond replacement rates and that use is resulting in environmental problems which could be very serious Fortunately, the author is not given to hyperbole those environmental problems are neither certain in time or severity.But as Smil makes clear, there are really few alternatives Our recent fantasies regarding wind or solar are never going to provide the energy surplus we currently enjoy, even if we had 100% battery storage technology There is simply not enough instant solar energy available to support the style to which we have become accustomed and others hope to achieve.Citing some studies regarding happiness vs wealth which I find far from convincing, the author seems to come down on the side of drastically reduced energy consumption He never suggests coercion to achieve that end, but it s doubtful that those who are used to luxury and those who quest for it are likely to voluntarily reduce that standard of living or the desire for it, regardless of Smil s personal righteous choice of a 1Kw automobile.Begging to differ, I come down on the let s develop non carbon energy side nuclear And if we are to prevent those possible environmental problems, we d better get going on developing safe nuclear energy right now, rather than whingeing about the morality of Exon s profit margin. I was really disappointed in this book It s a history and is full of facts that seem almost randomly addressed There is a lot of interesting information, but none of it seems to have a point , it s just a collection of data The citations are probably important to someone, but to a non academic they are just irritating and disrupt the flow of the text I found Richard Rhodes book Energy a human history much informative and much much entertaining. I purchased this book based on a recommendation by Bill Gates It s very interesting and takes you through the history of how humans have used and transformed energy and how that increasingly efficient energy use has advanced societies and where it hasn t.Be aware that it is very technically dense with a lot of specifics and almost reads like a textbook so it s not what I would call a light read but if you like that sort of thing than this book is recommended. I am only 70% through the book, knowing that the rest will touch upon the noton that our dependence on a very high consumption of energy based on fossil fuels is unsustainable and that renewables gives only some comfort to this conclusion As an economist I truly which that this perspective was commonly available through education, as the available energy influcence on economic wealth and especially a long term perspective on this is severly overlooked in todays financial world.So thumbs up, 5 stars, is given to the author for puting the whole energy history in context, and how vital it is to appreciate our fossil fuel workhorses for now and it also led to my appreciation that we can use the energy surplus as today to prepare for a sustainable future of tomorrow Even with less energy, it is possible to sustain a civilisation based on energy helpers so that living standards are still acceptable The calculations back and forth when it comes to Joules tons kwh or even barrels is very useful for engaging the mind outside speed reading An eye opener for me was the 90% energy conversion for electricity for kinetic energy as opposed to 40% for diesel and 25% for gasoline Going electric for personal transportation based on renewables really makes sense overall As a mechanical engineer, I was taught a lot about energy and worked with it my whole career I ve always loved history as well Now, I read a book that traces the human story along with the thread of how energy is found, grown, used, eaten, wastedall thatand really dominates society in so many ways This is a book long on detail so some may feel overwhelmed by it My favorite part was the last 20% where the author appears to summarize the influence of energy on all the major domains of civilization A book that I am keeping for reference and rereading. A Comprehensive Account Of How Energy Has Shaped Society Throughout History, From Pre Agricultural Foraging Societies Through Today S Fossil Fuel Driven Civilization I Wait For New Smil Books The Way Some People Wait For The Next Star Wars Movie In His Latest Book, Energy And Civilization A History, He Goes Deep And Broad To Explain How Innovations In Humans Ability To Turn Energy Into Heat, Light, And Motion Have Been A Driving Force Behind Our Cultural And Economic Progress Over The Past , 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 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 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