Book Review: “How the World Really Works” (Vaclav Smil)

By -- June 15, 2022 2 Comments

For those wishing to understand the challenges of climate change and the challenge in transitioning to decarbonized world, Smil’s book is a good start. He gives the reader plenty of numbers and analyses, but these do not overwhelm the simple conclusion that our energy reality makes the transition a long-term effort at best.

Smil’s book should be required reading for politicians, not only intellectuals and energy professionals, to help them understand the reality of controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the real world. It is also an excellent tutorial for the layperson not familiar with the details and intricacies of energy, the economy, and climate change.

Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, an institution he joined 50 years ago.

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Vaclav Smil: Antidote to Magical Thinking

By -- May 12, 2022 2 Comments

“What’s the point of setting goals which cannot be achieved? People call it aspirational. I call it delusional.” (V. Smil, below)

In an article filed under “climate crimes,” The Guardian claims that environmental nirvana is reachable if only politicians stop listening to Big Oil and start listening to social scientists. Author Amy Westervelt argues that the technology needed to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions is at hand; we just lack the will and the laws to implement it. She quotes from a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

Factors limiting ambitious transformation [to address climate change] include structural barriers, an incremental rather than systemic approach, lack of coordination, inertia, lock-in to infrastructure and assets, and lock-in as a consequence of vested interests, regulatory inertia, and lack of technological capabilities and human resources.

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DeSmog on Vaclav Smil (this deep thinker is largely correct)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 28, 2022 2 Comments

“In a profile in Science magazine, [Vaclav] Smil constructed his own models of how carbon dioxide emissions might affect climate and found it ‘wanting.’ ‘I have too much respect for reality,’ Smil said.” (DeSmog, below)

I have previously highlighted DeSmog pieces on climate and energy realists to show that simply imparting the subject’s views create good analysis. DeSmog might think they are prima facie hit pieces, but they are the opposite! Back door justice, perhaps….

Note the guilty-as-charged profiles on Robert Bryce, Isaac Orr, Derrick Hollie, John Christy, and myself. Same for DeSmog’s analysis on the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

DeSmog has done so many profiles that it looks like we are in the majority. And in a sense we are! The public is not buying climate catastrophe (yawn), certainly not in paying more for energy.

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‘Lure of the Renewables’ (Vaclav Smil in 1987 for today)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 18, 2016 6 Comments

“Perhaps the most distressing characteristic displayed by the pushers of soft energy was the intellectual poverty of their grand designs, their impatient dismissal of all criticism, their arrogant insistence on the infallible orthodoxy of their normative visions.”

“There is little doubt about the origins and the real message of soft energy dogma: the roots are in the muddled revolts of young Americans in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the goal is a social transformation rather than simply a provision of energy. The latter fact explains the widespread appeal of soft energy sources among zealous would-be reformers of Western ways.” 

Vaclav Smil is one of the leading energy scholars of our day. He has, time and again, tried to inject energy reality into energy fantasy. Some of his previous posts at MasterResource (see here) include ‘The Limits of Energy Innovation’: Timeless Insight from Vaclav Smil and the five-part Power Density Primer.

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‘The Limits of Energy Innovation’: Timeless Insight from Vaclav Smil

By Vaclav Smil -- November 22, 2013 5 Comments Continue Reading

Malthusianism Reconsidered: Desrochers on Smil

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 22, 2020 1 Comment Continue Reading

Smil on Oily Wind Turbines

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 17, 2016 1 Comment Continue Reading

Hansen on Climate/Energy Policy: An Evaluation and Rebuttal

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- July 28, 2022 No Comments Continue Reading

Climate Retreat: Thomas Friedman on COP26 (energy density, anyone?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 17, 2021 1 Comment Continue Reading

Carl Pope on Energy: Exactly Backwards (old-school alarmist in denial)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 3, 2021 No Comments Continue Reading