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Energy and Civilization – A History - MIT Press Scholarship Online
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Energy and Civilization: A History

Vaclav Smil


Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows—ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity—for their civilized existence. This book provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today’s fossil fuel-d ... More

Keywords: energy, fossil fuels, electricity, civilization, solar energy, foraging, nuclear reactors, internal combustion engines, quality of life, agriculture

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780262035774
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262035774.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Vaclav Smil, author
University of Manitoba