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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: 201,601

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 a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of more than thirty books, including Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Taken from Nature and, most recently, Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing, both published by the MIT Press. In 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2013 Bill Gates wrote on his website that "there is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil."

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