Global Catastrophes and Trends (Hardcover)

The Next 50 Years

By Vaclav Smil

MIT Press (MA), 9780262195867, 307pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2008

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (9/14/2012)

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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.

About the Author

Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba and the author of many books, including "Energy at the Crossroads: Global Perspectives and Uncertainties" (2005), "Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems" (2007), "Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years" (2008), and "Why America Is Not a New Rome" (2010), all published by the MIT Press. In 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers.