"How the World Really Works" by Prof. Vaclav Smil

Posted by Peter Corijn on 01 August 2023

Vaclav Smil represents hard scientific facts. One of those is that we are far more reliant on fossil fuels than many think, making their complete and rapid elimination difficult and unlikely. 

He argues that the world turns on 4 key elements: plastics, steel, cement, and ammonia-based fertilizers (interesting fact: without them we cannot feed 50% of the world’s population). All of these are highly dependent on massive amounts of energy generated by fossil fuels.

Prof. Smil agrees that the climate is being affected by human activities, but an energy conversion cannot be easily achieved, and not in the timelines that are being projected.He also offers solutions. For instance, there is still so much waste in the system, especially when it comes to food consumption. 

You may not like what you are reading but reviewing these facts – even uncomfortable ones – has merit. The book is full of interesting and surprising data that may guide our view on important issues. Well worth a read!