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Entropy Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam (September 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553262998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553262995
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,292,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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The authors have no idea what they're talking about.
Pf. Pfister
The basic argument of this book is that the ironically named 'Second' Law of Thermodynamics is the most important force/law in the universe.
4T Student
And I could have found it all in this book decades ago.
Pamela Rice

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By mpower on December 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It is hard to think of anything more important or interesting than applying the truth of physics to everyday life. In this book, Rifkin efficiently dismantles the predominant/global capitalist economic paradigm with the simple, undeniable pillars of physics and thermodynamics. For the blind mice of the developed world - happily living in debt and consuming beyond their means and needs - physics is a forgotten high school annoyance. Rifkin's thesis quickly turns this annoyance into fear, and ultimately understanding, by reminding us that the modern developed world is indeed living on borrowed time and limited resources. Yes, the book becomes repetitive, but then again, Rifkin's point deserves repeating.

Read the first 4-5 chapters of this book and change your perspective on capitalism and your own footprint on this planet...
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By JCV on July 24, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Have we missed something here? Like maybe an actual course on thermodynamics. If we were to accept Rifkin's theory, then there would be no life on this planet. Life is an ordered system, how could it possibly evolve? What Rifkin overlooks is that the requirement of entropy always increasing applies only to CLOSED systems. The world is not a closed system, it operates in conjunction with the sun. The sun produces more than enough entropy so as to permit the entropy decline that defines the history of life on Earth.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kevin F on November 4, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I've really enjoyed reading this book 30 years after it was written, especially curious to see where the author hit and missed the marks on his projections. I was pleasantly surprised to see a small warning on global warming, obviously very relavent these days. The historical placement of the writing of the book has interesting parallels, he wrote it during the energy crisis of the seventies, during the cold war, pre-Chernobyl, pre-IBM PC, etc., and here we are with gasoline recently nearing $5/gallon, fighting two wars not directly related to homeland defense, collapsing corporations being swallowed up by larger ones with government bailouts and talks of further government control, ie, all kinds of cracks in the energy flow line. The real test of the book's projections will be in the next five years, when all of those former third world countries, that have now become highly consumptive of raw materials, have had a chance to consume at a high rate for a length of time.

As for those physicists who question Rifkin's application of the second law to the various macromodels, I think even the author himself was not confident in making a serious scientific statement, he was more interested in getting out the overall message that we must preserve our non-renewable resources and allow nature time to catch up to our acquisitions of renewable resources. This is very relevant to today's fisheries for example. All of the mineral resources he cited, particulary copper, are now very expensive, so much so that thieves are now regularly stripping the metals from our highways, cemeteries, and public works.
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34 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Pf. Pfister on December 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It is almost unfair to review this book, because it has been roundly and rightly ignored for so many years. Mr. Rifkin, for the sake of his more recent work, likely wishes to keep things that way. To anyone interested in thermodynamics, simply look elsewhere; this book is not about entropy in any sense common to science (or English). To those interested in ecology, do not pollute your arguments with this babble. This book is a study in how not to do background research, and how not to construct an argument. The Amazon.com cliché is totally apt: this is the worst book I have ever read.

Rifkin and Howard want to show that energy consumption has accelerated over history, and that we should curb the trend. It's a reasonable sentiment. Unfortunately, they try to make their case for the impending destruction of Earth by borrowing the concept of entropy, or disorder. We all know that energy consumption has been rising ever faster; the authors point out that the laws of thermodynamics dictate that entropy on Earth must also be rising ever faster. Consequently, if these trends continue, disorder will rule and the planet will crumble into dead chaos. The authors prescribe a return to "low-entropy" lifestyles, as in the Classical Age.

Fortunately for us, the laws of thermodynamics do not agree. The authors also do not seem to realize that planet with life is more ordered (has lower entropy) than pre-biotic Earth. Similarly, entropy is mighty low where billions of complicated humans (not to mention other species) interact in countless ways in a miraculous, self-perpetuating system of systems within systems. With each building erected, manatee born, or stock market founded, Earth's entropy falls.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Rice on October 5, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Rifkin's ideas about physics may or may not be on solid ground, but he's predicted many apocalyptic realities with regard to the environment. And for this we must give him much credit. We have to remember. This book was written going on thirty years ago, before our era of manifest global warming. He predicted a warming of the planet. He doesn't call it "peek oil," as it's called today, but this is what he warns us about way back when.

His theory that the so-called Middle Ages ended with the advent of coal as a fuel source is intriguing. It sounds plausible to me. The way we get energy must have a lot to do with the way society is structured. We can certainly say this about agriculture. Once man began cultivating land, the concept of wealth was created, no less...

But back to the many predictions Rifkin made in this book: He warned these many years ago about the dangers of synthetic petrochemical nitrogen fertilizers choking our waters. Imagine that! No one was talking about that then and not even now. The Clean Water Act of 1972 does not address toxic runoff from farms and until that legislation is amended, our waters will be polluted. All over the world, runoff is truly one of the greatest environmental threats; we know this now for certain.

Rifkin, back then, long before the rest of us, was writing about the junk thrown in the oceans. Today we have a whirlpool of the size of Greenland over Midway Island densely clogged with plastic refuse, suffocating and starving out wildlife there.

Some environmentalists today (too, too few) are lamenting the advent of the flushing toilet. Rifkin does not point this out specifically, but he does note how our coasts were, even back then, poisoned by sewage.
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