Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems
Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the majorenergy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere andcivilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density andenergy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (thestudy of energy flows and their transformations). The book explores not only planetary energetics(such as solar radiation and geomorphic processes) and bioenergetics (photosynthesis, for example)but also human energetics (such as metabolism and thermoregulation), tracing them fromhunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included arechapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification,fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energeticsfor the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, andsocioeconomic considerations of energy use today, looking at correlations between energy and value,energy and the economy, energy and quality of life, and energy futures. Throughout the book, Smilchooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitiveoutcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides aunique, comprehensive, single-volume analysis and reference source on all important energy matters,from natural to industrial energy flows, from fuels to food, from the Earth's formation to possibleenergy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systemsscience, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University ofManitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth'sBiosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to theBiosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press.
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