Vaclav Smil

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Vaclav Smil receives 2015 OPEC Award for Research

In 2004, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) established the OPEC Award for Research to honour distinguished individuals who have made outstanding contribution to the petroleum industry and oil-related issues. In particular, the OPEC Award for Research is intended to honour those who have shown dedication to research and analysis of oil-related issues; […]

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Just published – Power Density: A Key to Understanding Energy Sources and Uses

In this book, Vaclav Smil argues that power density is a key determinant of the nature and dynamics of energy systems. Any understanding of complex energy systems must rely on quantitative measures of many fundamental variables. Power density — the rate of energy flux per unit of area — is an important but largely overlooked […]

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Monthly essays for IEEE Spectrum

In January 2015 I began to write monthly essays for the IEEE Spectrum, on of the world’s leading engineering and science periodicals published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in New York. The essays are published under the general heading Numbers Don’t Lie and their goal is to offer some new looks at […]

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Michael Cembalest, Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy at J.P. Morgan, Published Our Annual Energy Reality Check

For the last few years, we have written an annual piece on energy. In doing so, we have worked with Vaclav Smil from the University of Manitoba (see biography below). In a recent article in Scientific American, Vaclav provided a rough road map for what the arc of renewable energy use might look like. The […]

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Bill Gates reviews Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization

The car I drive to work is made of around 2,600 pounds of steel, 800 pounds of plastic, and 400 pounds of light metal alloys. The trip from my house to the office is roughly four miles long, all surface streets, which means I travel over some 15,000 tons of concrete each morning. Once I’m at the […]

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Bill Gates talks to Quartz on Poverty, GMOs, Microsoft and Vaclav Smil’s Latest Books

Vaclav Smil keeps turning out amazing books. Making the Modern World, I just finished, and it’s pretty fantastic. It’s about this idea that we are still using more materials per person, even as advanced economies, though people talk about the dematerialization of steel, the amount of concrete, and other minerals. It’s classic Smil: really explaining how […]

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Clive Thompson interview in WIRED Magazine

“There is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil,” Bill Gates wrote this summer. That’s quite an endorsement — and it gave a jolt of fame to Smil, a professor emeritus of environment and geography at the University of Manitoba. In a world of specialized intellectuals, Smil is an ambitious […]

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The last of my 2013 books — Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization – has been published by John Wiley

  How much further should the affluent world push its material consumption? Does relative dematerialization lead to absolute decline in demand for materials? These and many other questions are discussed and answered in Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization. Over the course of time, the modern world has become dependent on unprecedented flows of […]

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Michael Cembalest, Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy at J.P. Morgan, Published Our Annual Energy Reality Check

While the world has become more energy efficient, it still uses a lot of energy to grow (twice as much as in the 1970s), and most of it based on fossil fuels. Perhaps even more than fiscal policy, energy issues create a lot of debate. Some developed countries have been restricting coal, while others have […]

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Just Published – Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing

“There’s no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil. With his vast knowledge of science and energy, history and business, he brings new insights to every topic he examines.” — Bill Gates “Another irreplaceable entry in Smil’s chronicling of the modern world. If anyone needs help understanding why making ‘things’ still […]

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