Is flying dangerous? How much do the world's cows weigh? And what makes people happy?
From Earth's nations and inhabitants, through the fuels and foods that energize them, to the transportation and inventions of our modern world – and how all of this affects the planet itself – in Numbers Don't Lie, Professor Vaclav Smil takes us on a fact-finding adventure, using surprising statistics and illuminating graphs to challenge lazy thinking. Smil is on a mission to make facts matter, because after all, numbers may not lie, but which truth do they convey?
Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of over forty books on topics including energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk assessment and public policy. No other living scientist has had more books (on a wide variety of topics) reviewed in Nature. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, in 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. This is his first book for a more general readership.
"Smil's title says it all: to understand the world, you need to follow the trendlines, not the headlines. This is a compelling, fascinating, and most important, realistic portrait of the world and where it's going"
– Steven Pinker
"The best book to read to better understand our world. It should be on every bookshelf!"
– Linda Yueh
"For anyone confused by statistics or dubious of data in a world where numbers seem to mean everything and nothing"
– BBC Science Focus
"There is perhaps no other academic who paints pictures with numbers like Smil"
"An author who does not allow facts to be obscured or overshadowed by politics"
– New York Review of Books
"He's a slayer of bullshit"
– David Keith, Harvard University