Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years

Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years

Paperback

By (author) Vaclav Smil

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  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 170mm x 221mm x 18mm | 431g
  • Publication date: 16 October 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass.
  • ISBN 10: 0262518228
  • ISBN 13: 9780262518222
  • Illustrations note: 74 figures
  • Sales rank: 287,558

Product description

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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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.

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