Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems

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MIT Press, Jan 1, 2008 - Science - 480 pages
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Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and comprehensive 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 Societyis a broad and unique, 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.
  

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Review: Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems

User Review  - unperspicacious - Goodreads

This is an ambitious but accessible introduction to a holistic anatomy of energy flows in both the past and present. It is also, I think, a good entry point into Smil's vast collection of energy ... Read full review

Review: Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems

User Review  - DJ - Goodreads

treatise on how energy drives all (and surprisingly has been misappropriated by new-agey crackpots) Read full review

Contents

1 THE UNIVERSAL LINK
1
2 PLANETARY ENERGETICS
23
3 PHOTOSYNTHESIS
61
4 HETEROTROPHIC CONVERSIONS
89
5 HUMAN ENERGETICS
119
6 TRADITIONAL FOOD PRODUCTION
147
7 PREINDUSTRIAL COMPLEXIFICATION
173
8 FOSSIL FUELS
203
11 ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES
307
12 ENERGETIC CORRELATES
335
13 GRAND PATTERNS
365
APPENDIX
389
SELECTED ABBREVIATIONS ACRONYMS AND SYMBOLS
399
REFERENCES
401
NAME INDEX
461
SUBJECT INDEX
463

9 FOSSILFUELED CIVILIZATION
241
10 ENERGY COSTS
273

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About the author (2008)

(2010), all published by the MIT Press. He was awarded the 2007 Olivia Schieffelin Nordberg Award for excellence in writing and editing in the population sciences.

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