Global Catastrophes and Trends
The Next 50 YearsBook - 2008
A wide-ranging, interdisciplinary look at global changes that may occur over the nextfifty years--whether sudden and cataclysmic world-changing events or gradually unfoldingtrends.
Fundamental change occurs most often in one of two ways: as a "fataldiscontinuity," a sudden catastrophic event that is potentially world changing, or as apersistent, gradual trend. Global catastrophes include volcanic eruptions, viral pandemics, wars,and large-scale terrorist attacks; trends are demographic, environmental, economic, and politicalshifts that unfold over time. In this provocative book, scientist Vaclav Smil takes a wide-ranging,interdisciplinary look at the catastrophes and trends the next fifty years may bring. Smil firstlooks at rare but cataclysmic events, both natural and human-produced, then at trends of globalimportance, including the transition from fossil fuels to other energy sources and growing economicand social inequality. He also considers environmental change--in some ways an amalgam of suddendiscontinuities and gradual change--and assesses the often misunderstood complexities of globalwarming. Global Catastrophes and Trends does not come down on the side of eitherdoom-and-gloom scenarios or techno-euphoria. Instead, Smil argues that understanding change willhelp us reverse negative trends and minimize the risk of catastrophe.