Global Catastrophes and Trends
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Global Catastrophes and Trends : The Next Fifty Years

By (author) Vaclav Smil

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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. Smil first looks at rare but cataclysmic events, both natural and human-produced, then at trends of global importance, including the transition from fossil fuels to other energy sources 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, Smil argues that understanding change will help us reverse negative trends and minimize the risk of catastrophe.

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  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 170.18 x 220.98 x 17.78mm | 430.91g
  • 16 Oct 2012
  • MIT Press Ltd
  • MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Mass.
  • English
  • 74 figures
  • 0262518228
  • 9780262518222
  • 280,030

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Author Information

Vaclav Smil is the author of more than thirty books on energy, the environment, food, and the history of technical advances, including Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Taken from Nature, published by the MIT Press. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. In 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers.

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Review quote

I think Smil should probably be set as homework for every Member of Parliament, and there will be a test later... -- Dick Pountain The Political Quarterly

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