INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Vaclav Smil is my favorite author."âBill Gates
âProvocative but perceptive . . . You can agree or disagree with Smilâaccept or doubt his âjust the factsâ postureâbut you probably shouldnât ignore him.ââThe Washington Post
An essential analysis of the modern science and technology that makes our twenty-first century lives possibleâa scientist's investigation into what science really does, and does not, accomplish.
We have never had so much information at our fingertips and yet most of us donât know how the world really works. This book explains seven of the most fundamental realities governing our survival and prosperity. From energy and food production, through our material world and its globalization, to risks, our environment and its future, How the World Really Works offers a much-needed reality checkâbecause before we can tackle problems effectively, we must understand the facts.
In this ambitious and thought-provoking book we see, for example, that globalization isnât inevitableâthe foolishness of allowing 70 per cent of the worldâs rubber gloves to be made in just one factory became glaringly obvious in 2020âand that our societies have been steadily increasing their dependence on fossil fuels, such that any promises of decarbonization by 2050 are a fairy tale. For example, each greenhouse-grown supermarket-bought tomato has the equivalent of five tablespoons of diesel embedded in its production, and we have no way of producing steel, cement or plastics at required scales without huge carbon emissions.
Ultimately, Smil answers the most profound question of our age: are we irrevocably doomed or is a brighter utopia ahead? Compelling, data-rich and revisionist, this wonderfully broad, interdisciplinary guide finds faults with both extremes. Looking at the world through this quantitative lens reveals hidden truths that change the way we see our past, present and uncertain future.