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Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities Hardcover – Illustrated, 24 September 2019

4.5 out of 5 stars 347 ratings

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Review

An epic, multidisciplinary analysis of growth.—Guardian

Smil, whose research spans energy, population and environmental change, drives home the cost of growth on a finite planet. It is high: polluted land, air and water, lost wilderness and rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.... Growth urges us to think differently. That is desperately needed to manage the trade-offs in making renewables more efficient, improving economic incentives for fast adoption, minimizing environmental degradation and bettering lives in a swelling population.

Nature

Growth, whether biological, social or economic, may be normal, [Smil] says, but the exponential growth in economies and lifestyles we have seen in recent decades isn't, and can't continue without disastrous consequences.

New Scientist

Growth is filled with numbers, graphs and mathematical notation. Yet it's written to be easily understood by non-mathematicians, making brilliant but accessible use of statistics to illustrate salient features of growth in all its terrestrial forms (the book's scope is limited to Earth). In short, Growth is a compelling read.

Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses

A somewhat eccentric but really rather compelling read. The subtitle indicates its ambition. We do literally go from the growth dynamics of archaea and bacteria all the way to empires.... The joy of this book is less in the big picture than in the detail. And what a lot of it! The mind boggles at Smil's extensive reading and absorption of information. We get the speed at which marathons are run – over the entire course of human history; the growth rates of piglets and weight of chickens over time; sales of small non-industrial motors over time; the envelope for the maximum speed of travel; Kuznets cycles; Zipf's law for city size.... The middle section of chapters offer a fantastic overview of technical progress over long periods in a wide range of technologies. I love all this detail.

Diane Coyle, The Enlightened Economist

A rich and unique work from one of the leading interdisciplinary minds in the world today.... An outstanding reference guide for growth in its many forms, I don't hesitate to say that Growth should find its way onto the bookshelves of everybody interested in understanding the complexity of growth and how it affects the urban landscape.

Spacing Vancouver

In his new book, Growth — a dense, 500-page treatise that covers everything from 'microorganisms to megacities,'... Smil makes perhaps an even-more-off-putting proposition: that in order to 'ensure the habitability of the biosphere,' we must at the very least move away from prioritizing growth and perhaps abandon it entirely.

New York Magazine

Smil's weighty tome turns out to be both entertaining and erudite, exploring the benefits and limits of material growth to reach a fundamental point about the uncertainty of civilization's survival and the importance of maintaining a habitable biosphere to ensure it.

——

About the Author

Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of forty books, including Energy and Civilization, published by the MIT Press. In 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2013 Bill Gates wrote on his website that “there is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil."

Product details

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 664 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0262042835
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0262042833
  • Customer reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 347 ratings

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Jonathan D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Facts first, tentative opinion later
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1.0 out of 5 stars Don’t buy unless you want to be bored to death
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1.0 out of 5 stars I gave up after 100 pages...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
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Pouria B.
4.0 out of 5 stars Ocean of Knowledge
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