Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World by Vaclav Smil
Overview: “There is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil.”—Bill Gates
An essential guide to understanding how numbers reveal the true state of our world—exploring a wide range of topics including energy, the environment, technology, transportation, and food production.
Vaclav Smil’s mission is to make facts matter. An environmental scientist, policy analyst, and a hugely prolific author, he is Bill Gates’ go-to guy for making sense of our world. In Numbers Don’t Lie, Smil answers questions such as: What’s worse for the environment—your car or your phone? How much do the world’s cows weigh (and what does it matter)? And what makes people happy?
From data about our societies and populations, through measures of the fuels and foods that energize them, to the impact of transportation and inventions of our modern world—and how all of this affects the planet itself—in Numbers Don’t Lie, Vaclav Smil takes us on a fact-finding adventure, using surprising statistics and illuminating graphs to challenge conventional thinking. Packed with fascinating information and memorable examples, Numbers Don’t Lie reveals how the US is leading a rising worldwide trend in chicken consumption, that vaccination yields the best return on investment, and why electric cars aren’t as great as we think (yet). Urgent and essential, with a mix of science, history, and wit—all in bite-sized chapters on a broad range of topics—Numbers Don’t Lie inspires readers to interrogate what they take to be true.