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Energy in Nature and Society:General Energetics of Complex Systems

Cover Image Copyright Year: 2008
Author(s): Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
Content Type : Books & eBooks
Topics: Geoscience
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Abstract

Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the major energy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere and civilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density and energy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (the study 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 from hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included are chapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification, fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energetics for the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, and socioeconomic 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, Smil chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides a unique, 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 possible energy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systems science, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press.

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      Front Matter

      Page(s): i - xiii
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Half Title, Also by Vaclav Smil, Title, Copyright, Contents, Preface View full abstract»

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      The Universal Link: Energetics, Energy, and Power

      Page(s): 1 - 21
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Evolution of Energetics: From Aristotle to Einstein, Approaches to Understanding: Concepts, Variables, Units View full abstract»

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      Planetary Energetics: Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Lithosphere

      Page(s): 23 - 60
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Sun: The Star and Its Radiation, Energy Balance of the Earth: Radiation Fluxes, Hydrosphere and Atmosphere: Thermal and Mass Fluxes, Water and Air in Motion: Kinetic Fluxes, Geoenergetics: Heat, Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes, Earthquakes View full abstract»

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      Photosynthesis: Bioenergetics of Primary Production

      Page(s): 61 - 88
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Photosynthetic Pathways, Global Primary Productivity, Productivities of Ecosystems and Plants, Phytomass Stores, Autotrophic Scaling View full abstract»

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      Heterotrophic Conversions: Consumer Bioenergetics

      Page(s): 89 - 118
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Metabolic Capabilities, Ectotherms and Endotherms, Locomotion, Biomasses and Productivities, Heterotrophs in Ecosystems View full abstract»

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      Human Energetics: People as Simple Heterotrophs

      Page(s): 119 - 145
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Energy Sources and Basal Metabolism, Requirements and Uncertainties, Thermoregulation, Limits of Human Performance, Gathering, Hunting, and Fishing View full abstract»

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      Traditional Food Production: Humans as Solar Farmers

      Page(s): 147 - 171
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Extensive Practices, Permanent Cropping, Muscles, Implements, Machines, Cropping Intensification, Traditional Agricultures View full abstract»

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      Preindustrial Complexification: Prime Movers and Fuels in Traditional Societies

      Page(s): 173 - 202
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Animate Power: Human and Animal Muscles, Water and Wind: Wheels and Mills, Phytomass Fuels and Metallurgy: Wood, Charcoal, Crop Residues, Construction: Methods and Structures, Transportation: Roads and Ships View full abstract»

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      Fossil Fuels: Heat, Light, and Prime Movers

      Page(s): 203 - 240
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Coals: The Earliest Modern Fuels, Hydrocarbons: Crude Oils and Natural Gases, From Extraction to Combustion: Modern Fossil Fuel Industries, Mechanical Prime Movers: Engines and Turbines, Fossil-Fueled Electricity: Generation and Transmission View full abstract»

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      Fossil-Fueled Civilization: Patterns and Trends

      Page(s): 241 - 272
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Fuels and Fossil-Fueled Electricity: Energy Production and Trade, Nonfossil Contributions: Biomass and Primary Electricity, Global Consumption Patterns: Growth and Inequality, Qualitative Changes: Transitions and Efficiencies, Energy Conservation: Gains and Rebounds View full abstract»

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      Energy Costs: Valuations and Changes

      Page(s): 273 - 306
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Energy Cost of Energy: Net Gains, Basic Materials: From Concrete to Fertilizers, Structures and Products: From Buildings to Computers, Crops and Animal Foods: Subsidized Diets, Modern Food System: Gains, Costs, Efficiencies View full abstract»

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      Environmental Consequences: Metabolism of Fossil-Fueled Civilization

      Page(s): 307 - 333
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Power Densities: Energy and Land, Energy Conversions and Heat Rejection, Energy and Water, Energy and the Atmosphere, Interference in Grand Biospheric Cycles View full abstract»

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      Energetic Correlates: Complexities of High-Energy Civilization

      Page(s): 335 - 363
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Energy and the Economy, Energy and Value, Energy and the Quality of Life, Energy and War, Energy and the Future View full abstract»

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      Grand Patterns: Energetic and Other Essentials

      Page(s): 365 - 388
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Energy in the Biosphere, Energy and Civilization, The Challenges Ahead View full abstract»

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      Appendix

      Page(s): 389 - 397
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the major energy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere and civilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density and energy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (the study 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 from hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included are chapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification, fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energetics for the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, and socioeconomic 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, Smil chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides a unique, 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 possible energy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systems science, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press. View full abstract»

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

      Selected Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Symbols

      Page(s): 399 - 400
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the major energy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere and civilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density and energy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (the study 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 from hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included are chapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification, fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energetics for the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, and socioeconomic 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, Smil chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides a unique, 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 possible energy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systems science, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press. View full abstract»

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

      References

      Page(s): 401 - 459
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the major energy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere and civilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density and energy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (the study 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 from hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included are chapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification, fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energetics for the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, and socioeconomic 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, Smil chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides a unique, 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 possible energy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systems science, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press. View full abstract»

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

      Name Index

      Page(s): 461 - 462
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the major energy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere and civilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density and energy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (the study 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 from hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included are chapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification, fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energetics for the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, and socioeconomic 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, Smil chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides a unique, 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 possible energy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systems science, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press. View full abstract»

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

      Subject Index

      Page(s): 463 - 480
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the major energy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere and civilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density and energy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (the study 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 from hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included are chapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification, fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energetics for the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, and socioeconomic 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, Smil chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides a unique, 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 possible energy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systems science, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press. View full abstract»