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Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

Cover Image Copyright Year: 2005
Author(s): Smil, V.
Publisher: MIT Press
Content Type : Books & eBooks
Topics: Power, Energy, & Industry Applications
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Abstract

In Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil considers the twenty-first century's crucial question: how to reconcile the modern world's unceasing demand for energy with the absolute necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. With this book he offers a comprehensive, accessible guide to today's complex energy issues -- how to think clearly and logically about what is possible and what is desirable in our energy future.After a century of unprecedented production growth, technical innovation, and expanded consumption, the world faces a number of critical energy challenges arising from unequal resource distribution, changing demand patterns, and environmental limitations. The fundamental message of Energy at the Crossroads is that our dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced not because of any imminent resource shortages but because the widespread burning of oil, coal, and natural gas damages the biosphere and presents increasing economic and security problems as the world relies on more expensive supplies and Middle Eastern crude oil.Smil begins with an overview of the twentieth century's long-term trends and achievements in energy production. He then discusses energy prices, the real cost of energy, and "energy linkages" -- the effect energy issues have on the economy, on quality of life, on the environment, and in wartime. He discusses the pitfalls of forecasting, giving many examples of failed predictions and showing that unexpected events can disprove complex models. And he examines the pros and cons not only of fossil fuels but also of alternative fuels such as hydroenergy, biomass energy, wind power, and solar power. Finally, he considers the future, focusing on what really matters, what works, what is realistic, and which outcomes are most d esirable.

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      Front Matter

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): i - xiv
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Half Title, Also by Vaclav Smil, Title, Copyright, Contents, Acknowledgments, Reflections on a Life of Energy Studies View full abstract»

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      Long-term Trends and Achievements

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 1 - 62
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: A Unique Century, Changing Resource Base, Technical Innovations, The Rising Importance of Electricity, Trading Energy, Consumption Trends, Looking Back and Looking Ahead View full abstract»

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      Energy Linkages

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 63 - 120
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Energy and the Economy, Deconstructing Energy Intensities, Energy Prices, Real Costs of Energy, Energy and the Quality of Life, Energy and the Environment, Energy and War View full abstract»

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      Against Forecasting

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 121 - 180
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Failing Endeavors, Conversion Techniques, Primary Energy Requirements, Demand for Electricity, Energy Prices and Intensities, Substitutions of Energy Resources, Complex Models and Realities, Unexpected Happenings, In Favor of Normative Scenarios View full abstract»

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      Fossil Fuel Futures

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 181 - 238
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Is the Decline of Global Crude Oil Production Imminent?, Different Perspectives on the Oil Era, How Far Can Natural Gas Go?, What Will Be Coal's Role? View full abstract»

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      Nonfossil Energies

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 239 - 316
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Biomass Energies, Electricity from Wind, Direct Solar Conversions, How Promising Are Other Renewables?, Infrastructural Changes and the Future Hydrogen Economy, Is There a Future for Nuclear Energy? View full abstract»

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      Possible Futures

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 317 - 373
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Efficient Use of Energy, Beyond Higher Efficiency, Energy and the Future of the Biosphere, What Really Matters, What Does, and Does Not, Help, Realities and a Wish List View full abstract»

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      Units and Abbreviations

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 375
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      In Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil considers the twenty-first century's crucial question: how to reconcile the modern world's unceasing demand for energy with the absolute necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. With this book he offers a comprehensive, accessible guide to today's complex energy issues -- how to think clearly and logically about what is possible and what is desirable in our energy future.After a century of unprecedented production growth, technical innovation, and expanded consumption, the world faces a number of critical energy challenges arising from unequal resource distribution, changing demand patterns, and environmental limitations. The fundamental message of Energy at the Crossroads is that our dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced not because of any imminent resource shortages but because the widespread burning of oil, coal, and natural gas damages the biosphere and presents increasing economic and security problems as the world relies on more expensive supplies and Middle Eastern crude oil.Smil begins with an overview of the twentieth century's long-term trends and achievements in energy production. He then discusses energy prices, the real cost of energy, and "energy linkages" -- the effect energy issues have on the economy, on quality of life, on the environment, and in wartime. He discusses the pitfalls of forecasting, giving many examples of failed predictions and showing that unexpected events can disprove complex models. And he examines the pros and cons not only of fossil fuels but also of alternative fuels such as hydroenergy, biomass energy, wind power, and solar power. Finally, he considers the future, focusing on what really matters, what works, what is realistic, and which outcomes are most d esirable. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Prefixes

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 377
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      In Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil considers the twenty-first century's crucial question: how to reconcile the modern world's unceasing demand for energy with the absolute necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. With this book he offers a comprehensive, accessible guide to today's complex energy issues -- how to think clearly and logically about what is possible and what is desirable in our energy future.After a century of unprecedented production growth, technical innovation, and expanded consumption, the world faces a number of critical energy challenges arising from unequal resource distribution, changing demand patterns, and environmental limitations. The fundamental message of Energy at the Crossroads is that our dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced not because of any imminent resource shortages but because the widespread burning of oil, coal, and natural gas damages the biosphere and presents increasing economic and security problems as the world relies on more expensive supplies and Middle Eastern crude oil.Smil begins with an overview of the twentieth century's long-term trends and achievements in energy production. He then discusses energy prices, the real cost of energy, and "energy linkages" -- the effect energy issues have on the economy, on quality of life, on the environment, and in wartime. He discusses the pitfalls of forecasting, giving many examples of failed predictions and showing that unexpected events can disprove complex models. And he examines the pros and cons not only of fossil fuels but also of alternative fuels such as hydroenergy, biomass energy, wind power, and solar power. Finally, he considers the future, focusing on what really matters, what works, what is realistic, and which outcomes are most d esirable. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Acronyms

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 379 - 382
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      In Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil considers the twenty-first century's crucial question: how to reconcile the modern world's unceasing demand for energy with the absolute necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. With this book he offers a comprehensive, accessible guide to today's complex energy issues -- how to think clearly and logically about what is possible and what is desirable in our energy future.After a century of unprecedented production growth, technical innovation, and expanded consumption, the world faces a number of critical energy challenges arising from unequal resource distribution, changing demand patterns, and environmental limitations. The fundamental message of Energy at the Crossroads is that our dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced not because of any imminent resource shortages but because the widespread burning of oil, coal, and natural gas damages the biosphere and presents increasing economic and security problems as the world relies on more expensive supplies and Middle Eastern crude oil.Smil begins with an overview of the twentieth century's long-term trends and achievements in energy production. He then discusses energy prices, the real cost of energy, and "energy linkages" -- the effect energy issues have on the economy, on quality of life, on the environment, and in wartime. He discusses the pitfalls of forecasting, giving many examples of failed predictions and showing that unexpected events can disprove complex models. And he examines the pros and cons not only of fossil fuels but also of alternative fuels such as hydroenergy, biomass energy, wind power, and solar power. Finally, he considers the future, focusing on what really matters, what works, what is realistic, and which outcomes are most d esirable. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      References

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 383 - 418
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      In Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil considers the twenty-first century's crucial question: how to reconcile the modern world's unceasing demand for energy with the absolute necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. With this book he offers a comprehensive, accessible guide to today's complex energy issues -- how to think clearly and logically about what is possible and what is desirable in our energy future.After a century of unprecedented production growth, technical innovation, and expanded consumption, the world faces a number of critical energy challenges arising from unequal resource distribution, changing demand patterns, and environmental limitations. The fundamental message of Energy at the Crossroads is that our dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced not because of any imminent resource shortages but because the widespread burning of oil, coal, and natural gas damages the biosphere and presents increasing economic and security problems as the world relies on more expensive supplies and Middle Eastern crude oil.Smil begins with an overview of the twentieth century's long-term trends and achievements in energy production. He then discusses energy prices, the real cost of energy, and "energy linkages" -- the effect energy issues have on the economy, on quality of life, on the environment, and in wartime. He discusses the pitfalls of forecasting, giving many examples of failed predictions and showing that unexpected events can disprove complex models. And he examines the pros and cons not only of fossil fuels but also of alternative fuels such as hydroenergy, biomass energy, wind power, and solar power. Finally, he considers the future, focusing on what really matters, what works, what is realistic, and which outcomes are most d esirable. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Index

      Smil, V.
      Energy at the Crossroads:Global Perspectives and Uncertainties

      Page(s): 419 - 427
      Copyright Year: 2005

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      In Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil considers the twenty-first century's crucial question: how to reconcile the modern world's unceasing demand for energy with the absolute necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. With this book he offers a comprehensive, accessible guide to today's complex energy issues -- how to think clearly and logically about what is possible and what is desirable in our energy future.After a century of unprecedented production growth, technical innovation, and expanded consumption, the world faces a number of critical energy challenges arising from unequal resource distribution, changing demand patterns, and environmental limitations. The fundamental message of Energy at the Crossroads is that our dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced not because of any imminent resource shortages but because the widespread burning of oil, coal, and natural gas damages the biosphere and presents increasing economic and security problems as the world relies on more expensive supplies and Middle Eastern crude oil.Smil begins with an overview of the twentieth century's long-term trends and achievements in energy production. He then discusses energy prices, the real cost of energy, and "energy linkages" -- the effect energy issues have on the economy, on quality of life, on the environment, and in wartime. He discusses the pitfalls of forecasting, giving many examples of failed predictions and showing that unexpected events can disprove complex models. And he examines the pros and cons not only of fossil fuels but also of alternative fuels such as hydroenergy, biomass energy, wind power, and solar power. Finally, he considers the future, focusing on what really matters, what works, what is realistic, and which outcomes are most d esirable. View full abstract»