Energy and Civilization

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).

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher:

ISBN: 0262536161

Category: Energiekonsum

Page: 552

View: 715

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 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.

General Energetics

Presented here for the first time is a comprehensive, single-volume treatment of all the important aspects of biospheric civilizational energetics.

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: Wiley-Interscience

ISBN:

Category: Science

Page: 369

View: 343

Presented here for the first time is a comprehensive, single-volume treatment of all the 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. All segments of energetics are examined, including 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. Concludes with general patterns, trends and socio-economic considerations of energy use today plus their impact on the environment.

In the Servitude of Power

This stimulating, informative and at times frightening book provides an overall history of energy usage as a fundamental factor in the evolution of the world's major civilizations, from pre-history to the present day.

Author: Jean-Paul Deléage

Publisher: Zed Books

ISBN: 9780862329426

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 304

View: 916

This stimulating, informative and at times frightening book provides an overall history of energy usage as a fundamental factor in the evolution of the world's major civilizations, from pre-history to the present day. It serves as a history of human impact on the biosphere and the consequences of this for the rise and fall of civilizations. The authors look in detail at how different forms of energy use have shaped society in the earliest civilizations – Egypt, Mesopotamia and India – as well as in Ancient Greece and Rome, Imperial China, Medieval Europe, and during the industrial revolution. They go on to cover the rise of the internal combustion engine, electrification, oil, nuclear power, and contemporary ecological problems. They show how all societies are dependent on fragile and unstable energy systems that combine particular technical knowledge, conceptions of nature, and relations of power. When this system reaches its limits, a major crisis is inevitable. Our own world is entering such a crisis as we exhaust our non-renewable resources and confront the consequences of global warming. And the Third World and Eastern Europe face even worse dilemmas. As for nuclear energy, the authors show it to be an economically unviable attempt to shore up an outworn system. They ask whether there is any technical way of overcoming these limits other than an overall change in the way our society functions. In the Servitude of Poweris an authoritative and comprehensive guide to what promises to be the end of an era.

Energy in Nature and Society

Throughout the book, the author chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models.

Author: Professor of Geography Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262693569

Category: Science

Page: 480

View: 408

Throughout the book, the author chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models.

Growth

In this magisterial book, Vaclav Smil offers systematic investigation of growth in nature and society, from tiny organisms to the trajectories of empires and civilizations.

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher:

ISBN: 0262539683

Category: Nature

Page: 664

View: 132

A systematic investigation of growth in nature and society, from tiny organisms to the trajectories of empires and civilizations. Growth has been both an unspoken and an explicit aim of our individual and collective striving. It governs the lives of microorganisms and galaxies; it shapes the capabilities of our extraordinarily large brains and the fortunes of our economies. Growth is manifested in annual increments of continental crust, a rising gross domestic product, a child's growth chart, the spread of cancerous cells. In this magisterial book, Vaclav Smil offers systematic investigation of growth in nature and society, from tiny organisms to the trajectories of empires and civilizations. Smil takes readers from bacterial invasions through animal metabolisms to megacities and the global economy. He begins with organisms whose mature sizes range from microscopic to enormous, looking at disease-causing microbes, the cultivation of staple crops, and human growth from infancy to adulthood. He examines the growth of energy conversions and man-made objects that enable economic activities--developments that have been essential to civilization. Finally, he looks at growth in complex systems, beginning with the growth of human populations and proceeding to the growth of cities. He considers the challenges of tracing the growth of empires and civilizations, explaining that we can chart the growth of organisms across individual and evolutionary time, but that the progress of societies and economies, not so linear, encompasses both decline and renewal. The trajectory of modern civilization, driven by competing imperatives of material growth and biospheric limits, Smil tells us, remains uncertain.


Power Density

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. “There's no author whose books I look forward to more than ...

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262326930

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 667

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. “There's no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil.” —Bill Gates In 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.




Wealth Energy and Human Values

This work provides a unique and formidable science-based framework for civilization development that complements and enhances the work of preeminent historians and sociologists.

Author: Thomas P. Wallace

Publisher: AuthorHouse

ISBN: 1438976283

Category: History

Page: 528

View: 346

The degradation of the modern American culture, including its 2008 financial and economic crisis, and the modern rejuvenation of Asian cultures are best understood within the context of 4,000 years of human history. Such are the consequences of the dynamics of cultural change, responding to societal variables of wealth, energy, and human values. This work provides a unique and formidable science-based framework for civilization development that complements and enhances the work of preeminent historians and sociologists. Accordingly, the foundation for societal progress is placed on restrictive scientific definitions, principles, and concepts of energy and wealth consumption, rather than solely on behavioral perspectives derived from empirical data and historical events. Society's dynamic forces are linked to the cultural deterioration and collapse of Ancient Greece and Rome, Imperial Spain, and Great Britain. Specific chapters are devoted to stagnation of Western civilization, Asian and Islamic resurgence, deterioration of the American culture, and ecological degradation of North America's largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay; collateral damage of socio-economic profitability. The characteristics of America's current cultural deterioration parallel those of previous great civilizations. These include abuse of wealth and energy resources; excessive individual and national debt; lack of cultural civility, discipline, integrity, and ethics; unaffordable militarism, escalating income and wealth disparities; unresolved crises in health care and public education; and stultifying cultural complexity and bureaucracy. Themes include the underlying principles responsible for the eventual deterioration of all known civilizations; the basis for the recurring, sequential periodicity of civilization success and failure; and the roles and significance of militarism and religion in civilization growth, decay, and rebirth; Addressing these themes necessitates the integration of the academic disciplines of history, sociology, economics, and science, reflecting human nature and socioeconomic and political realities that fundamentally and continuously alter human values, priorities, and behavior, thus creating human history.

Harvesting the Biosphere

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.

Author: Vaclav Smil

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262312271

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 771

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.

Energy Storage and Civilization

This book provides a starting point for engineers, scientists and energy analysts for exploring the role of storage in energy transition studies, and for gaining an appreciation of the biophysical constraints of storage.

Author: Graham Palmer

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 9783030330927

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 175

View: 648

Fossil fuels comprise the accumulation of prehistoric biomass that was energised by sunlight, and formed by earth system dynamics. Fossil fuels can be conceptualized as stored energy stocks that can be readily converted to power flows, on demand. A transition from a reliance on stored energy stocks, to renewable energy flows, will require a replication of energy storage by technological devices and energy conversion methods. Most analyses of energy storage focus solely on the economic-technical properties of storage within incumbent energy systems. This book broadens the scope of the study of storage by placing it within a broader, historical, biophysical framework. The role and value of storage is examined from first principles, and framed within the contemporary context of electrical grids and markets. The energy-economic cost of electrical storage may be critical to the efficacy of high penetration renewable scenarios, and understanding the costs and benefits of storage is needed for a proper assessment of storage in energy transition studies. This book provides a starting point for engineers, scientists and energy analysts for exploring the role of storage in energy transition studies, and for gaining an appreciation of the biophysical constraints of storage.

Energy Society

Energy and Society (Revised) When first published in 1955, this book was among the first interpretive treatments of the connection between a society's energy conditions and evolution of its culture.

Author: Fred Cottrell

Publisher: AuthorHouse

ISBN: 1449031692

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 484

View: 711

Energy and Society (Revised) When first published in 1955, this book was among the first interpretive treatments of the connection between a society's energy conditions and evolution of its culture. The book begins with a basic discussion of the earliest forms of energy uses and evolves through a discussion of how the evolution of alternative energy converters has impacted the growth of civilization. Dr.Cottrell takes us from food gathering societies up through the beginning of the industrial revolution into the age of nuclear power. With each step of change, he discusses how society has changed and the impact these changes have had on economic, moral and social issues. Today, more than any time in history, the questions of energy sources, energy conversion, energy uses and energy distribution are among the greatest challenges faced by civilization. In this book, Dr. Cottrell does not give you answers or predictions but takes you through the thought processes necessary to overcome the multible barriers we face in moving into the future.

Energy Storage and Civilization

3.1 Energy and Force 3.1.1 Introduction In order to appreciate the prospects for different types of storage, some basic grounding in the underlying physics ...

Author: Graham Palmer

Publisher: Springer Nature

ISBN: 3030330931

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 173

View: 432

Fossil fuels comprise the accumulation of prehistoric biomass that was energised by sunlight, and formed by earth system dynamics. Fossil fuels can be conceptualized as stored energy stocks that can be readily converted to power flows, on demand. A transition from a reliance on stored energy stocks, to renewable energy flows, will require a replication of energy storage by technological devices and energy conversion methods. Most analyses of energy storage focus solely on the economic-technical properties of storage within incumbent energy systems. This book broadens the scope of the study of storage by placing it within a broader, historical, biophysical framework. The role and value of storage is examined from first principles, and framed within the contemporary context of electrical grids and markets. The energy-economic cost of electrical storage may be critical to the efficacy of high penetration renewable scenarios, and understanding the costs and benefits of storage is needed for a proper assessment of storage in energy transition studies. This book provides a starting point for engineers, scientists and energy analysts for exploring the role of storage in energy transition studies, and for gaining an appreciation of the biophysical constraints of storage.


Emerging Dynamics Science Energy Society and Values

The book advocates for a science willing to accommodate both human values and scientific facts.

Author: Loucas G. Christophorou

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 3319907131

Category: Science

Page: 219

View: 842

Emerging Dynamics: Science, Energy, Society and Values focuses on the impact of science, science-based technology and scientific values on present-day humanity and its future. The book advocates for a science willing to accommodate both human values and scientific facts. The four main subjects focused on throughout the text are: The overwhelming impact of modern science and science-based technology on virtually every aspect of human life Human values and their significance for science and society The need for mutual accommodation between scientific values and the traditional values of society The fundamental role of energy for civilization and society. The book cuts across scientific disciplines and looks at modern civilization through the knowledge provided by the physical, chemical, biomedical and other branches of natural science. The book is unique in its holistic approach, combining knowledge acquired by deduction, reduction-induction, and experimental scientific methods with knowledge acquired through history, philosophy, the arts, faith and cultural traditions. Modern civilization’s most distinct characteristics are due to science, science-based technology and energy. The role of energy in the sustainability of civilization and the impact of biomedical science on man are especially emphasized throughout this timely book, making a case for a hopeful future based on both science and values. A science guided in its applications by human values and a value system cognizant of the facts of science and willing to accommodate them


The Measure of Civilization

As such, many will be interested in the data and methods made available by this important book. The Measure of Civilization contains valuable and useful ideas and insights.

Author: Ian Morris

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 0691160864

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 400

View: 455

Uses four factors--energy capture per capita, organization, information technology and war-making capacity--to attempt to show which world regions were the most powerful throughout all of human history.

Technics and Civilization

Technics and Civilization first presented its compelling history of the machine and critical study of its effects on civilization in 1934—before television, the personal computer, and the Internet even appeared on our periphery.

Author: Lewis Mumford

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226550273

Category: History

Page: 495

View: 312

Technics and Civilization first presented its compelling history of the machine and critical study of its effects on civilization in 1934—before television, the personal computer, and the Internet even appeared on our periphery. Drawing upon art, science, philosophy, and the history of culture, Lewis Mumford explained the origin of the machine age and traced its social results, asserting that the development of modern technology had its roots in the Middle Ages rather than the Industrial Revolution. Mumford sagely argued that it was the moral, economic, and political choices we made, not the machines that we used, that determined our then industrially driven economy. Equal parts powerful history and polemic criticism, Technics and Civilization was the first comprehensive attempt in English to portray the development of the machine age over the last thousand years—and to predict the pull the technological still holds over us today. “The questions posed in the first paragraph of Technics and Civilization still deserve our attention, nearly three quarters of a century after they were written.”—Journal of Technology and Culture