Dr. Vaclav Smil


N306 Duff Roblin

I am a life-long interdisciplinarian, a natural approach when doing research on energy and its interactions with the environment, economy and food production and its impact on the quality of life and political and strategic matters. The key topics I have worked on since the 1960s include air pollution from large coal-fired plants, history of the global energy use and its environmental impacts (including the emissions of greenhouse gases), hydrocarbon resources and their extraction (including the peak oil controversy), renewable energy conversions (particularly biomass energies, hydroenergy and wind), history of prime movers (combustion engines, steam and gas turbines), interactions between energy and the economy (including energy intensities and developmental correlates), risk assessment of energy uses and conversions and criticism of long-range energy forecasting and energy cost of food production. I have also applied many of these approaches to my work on China’s energy, environment and economy. My most recent work looks both back (examining the role of technical innovations in the formation of modern world) and forward (assessing the global catastrophic risks and trends of the next 50 years).

As of 2008 I have published (or have in press) 27 books and about 350 papers in nearly 100 different periodicals; every year I also give many lectures on energy, environmental, economic and historical topics to workshops, conferences and audiences in North America, Europe and Asia. During my time at the University of Manitoba I have taught courses on energy, atmospheric change, China, population and economic development.



Smil, V. 2008. Moore’s curse and the great energy delusion. The American 2(6): 34-41.

Smil, V. 2008. Water news: bad, good and virtual. American Scientist, 96: 399-407.

Smil, V. 2008. Energy at the Crossroads Global Perspectives and Uncertainties. (Eunnyeong Heo, Tai-Yoo Kim, & Soogab Lee, Trans.). Seoul: Changbi Publishers.

Smil, V. 2008. Oil: A Beginner's Guide. Oneworld Publishers, Oxford, xiii + 202 pp.

Smil, V. 2008. Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, xi + 480 pp.


Smil, V. 2007. Poor visibility on China’s air pollution. Far Eastern Economic Review, December 2007: 35-39.

Smil, V. 2007. The two prime movers of globalization: history and impact of diesel engines and gas turbines. Journal of Global History 3:373-394.

Smil, V. 2007. Technical advances. In: Rider, C., ed., Encyclopedia of the Age of the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1920, Vol. 2, pp. 420-432.

Smil, V. 2007. Steam turbine. In: Rider, C., ed., Encyclopedia of the Age of the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1920, Vol. 2, pp.403-405.

Smil, V. 2007. Hertz, Heinrich (1847-1894). In: Rider, C., ed., Encyclopedia of the Age of the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1920, Vol. 1, pp. 197-198.

Smil, V. 2007. Global material cycles.  Encylcopedia of Earth, June 2, 2007.

Smil, V. 2007. The unprecedented shift in Japan’s population: Numbers, age, and prospects.  Japan Focus, May 1, 2007.

Smil, V. 2007. Light behind the fall: Japan’s electricity consumption, the environment, and economic growth.  Japan Focus, April 2, 2007.

Smil, V. 2007. Peak performance. Tech Central Station, February 23, 2007.


Smil, V. 2006. Energy: A Beginner's Guide. Oneworld Publishers, Oxford, x + 181 pp.

Smil,V. 2006. Transforming the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations and Their Consequences. Oxford University Press, New York, x+358 pp.

Smil, V. 2006. Peak oil: A catastrophist cult and complex realities. World Watch 19: 22-24.


Smil, V. 2005. Nitrogen in modern European agriculture. In: Scholliers, P., L. Van Molle and C. Sarasua, eds. Land, Shops and Kitchens: Technology and the Food Chain in Twentieth-century Europe. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, pp. 110-119.

Naylor, R., Steinfeld, H., Falcon, W., Galloway, J., Smil, V., Bradford, E., Alder, J., Mooney, H. Losing the links between livestock and land. Science, 310: 1621-1622

Smil, V. 2005. China's Thirsty Future. Far Eastern Economic Review. December 2005.

Smil, V. 2005. Peak Curiosity. Tech Central Station, December 3, 2005.

Smil, V. 2005. The next 50 years: Unfolding trends. Population and Development Review. 31: 605-643.

Smil, V. 2005. A different perspective on security: America's infrastructural failures. Tech Central Station, October 26, 2005

Smil, V. 2005. Bad bets. Tech Central Station, September 6, 2005.

Smil,V. 2005. Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact. Oxford University Press, New York, xv+350 pp.

Smil, V. 2005. Feeding the world: How much more rice do we need? In: Toriyama K., Heong K.L., Hardy B., eds. Rice is life: scientific perspectives for the 21st century. Proceedings of the World Rice Research Conference held in Tokyo and Tsukuba, Japan, 4-7 November 2004. Los Baños (Philippines): International Rice Research Institute, pp. 21-23

Smil, V. 2005. The next 50 Years:Fatal discontinuities. Population and Development Review. 31: 201-236.

Smil, V. 2005. Limits to Growth revisited: A review essay. Population and Development Review. 31: 157-164.


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