Vaclav Smil’s books are amazing.
They give you a very deep understanding
of how civilization is developed.
Here in this book, “Numbers Don’t Lie”
he’s boiled it down into 71 Things You Need to Know About the World.
This is the most information he’s ever put in a book,
and yet probably the most digestible.
A great one is about batteries.
He explains to keep the electricity system reliable is going to be very hard
if we only have weather dependent sources like solar and wind.
He gives examples like Tokyo
and what needs go on with batteries
and how little change in batteries there’s actually been.
But it’s nothing like microchips,
which sometimes confuses us to think
that exponential improvement can just show up everywhere.
One of those facts that you just have to go; “That’s wild, I wouldn’t have expected that.”
会让你感到 “很疯狂 我没想到会这样”的事实之一
is the reduction in alcohol consumption.
That was stunning to me, and you know,
when I was reading this thing, I said to people,
“Hey, how much wine people were drinking in 1850,
versus 2020?” Just to guess.
So drinking is pretty constant from 1850 to 1950.
but French wine consumption
is now a third of what it was in 1950.
That’s amazing to me.
I mean, wow!
What happened there?
Was life just so bleak?
Here’s another one.The whole thing about humans that came down from the trees
to chase grass-eating animals.
Our endurance comes from two-legged running
and the ability to sweat,
and that that allows us to run down these rich sources of protein,
that allow our brain to develop,
to enhance the social behaviors
that make us even more effective at being hunter-gatherers.
It’s just super novel, and kind of unusual.
You will love a lot of these numbers.
I unabashedly recommend this book.
It’ll give you a framework to think about things.