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Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities (The MIT Press) Hardcover – Illustrated, September 24, 2019

4.5 out of 5 stars 182 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

An epic, multidisciplinary analysis of growth.—Guardian

Smil, whose research spans energy, population and environmental change, drives home the cost of growth on a finite planet. It is high: polluted land, air and water, lost wilderness and rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.... Growth urges us to think differently. That is desperately needed to manage the trade-offs in making renewables more efficient, improving economic incentives for fast adoption, minimizing environmental degradation and bettering lives in a swelling population.

Nature

Growth, whether biological, social or economic, may be normal, [Smil] says, but the exponential growth in economies and lifestyles we have seen in recent decades isn't, and can't continue without disastrous consequences.

New Scientist

Growth is filled with numbers, graphs and mathematical notation. Yet it's written to be easily understood by non-mathematicians, making brilliant but accessible use of statistics to illustrate salient features of growth in all its terrestrial forms (the book's scope is limited to Earth). In short, Growth is a compelling read.

Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses

A somewhat eccentric but really rather compelling read. The subtitle indicates its ambition. We do literally go from the growth dynamics of archaea and bacteria all the way to empires.... The joy of this book is less in the big picture than in the detail. And what a lot of it! The mind boggles at Smil's extensive reading and absorption of information. We get the speed at which marathons are run – over the entire course of human history; the growth rates of piglets and weight of chickens over time; sales of small non-industrial motors over time; the envelope for the maximum speed of travel; Kuznets cycles; Zipf's law for city size.... The middle section of chapters offer a fantastic overview of technical progress over long periods in a wide range of technologies. I love all this detail.

Diane Coyle, The Enlightened Economist

A rich and unique work from one of the leading interdisciplinary minds in the world today.... An outstanding reference guide for growth in its many forms, I don't hesitate to say that Growth should find its way onto the bookshelves of everybody interested in understanding the complexity of growth and how it affects the urban landscape.

Spacing Vancouver

In his new book, Growth — a dense, 500-page treatise that covers everything from 'microorganisms to megacities,'... Smil makes perhaps an even-more-off-putting proposition: that in order to 'ensure the habitability of the biosphere,' we must at the very least move away from prioritizing growth and perhaps abandon it entirely.

New York Magazine

Smil's weighty tome turns out to be both entertaining and erudite, exploring the benefits and limits of material growth to reach a fundamental point about the uncertainty of civilization's survival and the importance of maintaining a habitable biosphere to ensure it.

——

Review

Vaclav Smil does for the history of energy what Thomas Piketty did for the history of inequality. And his findings are just as uncomfortable.

Rutger Bregman, historian and author of Utopia for Realists (2017) and Humankind (2020)

Product details

  • Item Weight : 2.3 pounds
  • Hardcover : 664 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0262042835
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0262042833
  • Dimensions : 6.38 x 1.63 x 9.38 inches
  • Publisher : The MIT Press; Illustrated edition (September 24, 2019)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 182 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
182 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on May 12, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on December 26, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

Peter - Denmark
1.0 out of 5 stars I gave up after 100 pages...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 25, 2020
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Pat
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 16, 2020
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Lady B Bellie
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 8, 2019
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Theo Kitsos
5.0 out of 5 stars Received
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 31, 2020
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Pouria B.
4.0 out of 5 stars Ocean of Knowledge
Reviewed in Canada on October 21, 2019
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