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Vaclav Smil

Renowned Expert on Energy, Environment, Food & Technical Advances


Professor Vaclav Smil is regarded as being among the most important thought leaders of our time. One of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010, Smil has spent his career exploring new ground in the fields of energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk assessment and public policy. Publishing 35 books and over 400 papers, Smil has revolutionized the way the world thinks about its future energy and food needs. In addition to his published research, he has also worked as a consultant for many US, EU and international institutions.

Smil believes it is his duty to bring hard numbers and hard facts to public debates on energy, environmental changes and feeding the world, using them to moderate exaggerated expectations of rapid innovative solutions. An expert on a vast number of global issues, one of Smil’s major concerns has been the history of technical innovation and the speed of energy transitions. In his fascinating work, Smli points out that the modern energy industry constitutes the world’s most massive, most indispensable, most expensive and most inertial infrastructure.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Vaclav Smil is the range of his expertise. In 2013 alone, he published four new books on a wide array of global issues. Harvesting the Biosphere looks at the extent in which we exploit the world’s resources for food and raw materials. Should We Eat Meat? provides a systematic look at the evolution of human carnivorism and modern meat production. Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing explains how manufacturing made the U.S. a superpower and how that achievement is threatened by that sector’s serious weakening. Finally, Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization focuses on material foundations of modern civilization and on more efficient uses of materials.

Engaging and energetic, Vaclav Smil has taken his messages to hundreds of conferences and workshops around the world. This interdisciplinary scholar leads audiences step-by-step through some of the most important issues facing our rapidly changing world. Wishful thinking, Smil believes, is no substitute for recognizing the extraordinary challenges posed by our future energy and food needs and by the necessity to maintain a habitable biosphere. Tirelessly providing the most cutting-edge information on these challenges, Vaclav Smil remains one of worlds the greatest guides to a better future.


  • 2013: Appointed to the Order of Canada
  • 2010: Named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers
  • 2000: First non-American to receive the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology
  • 1996: Named a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Science Academy
  • 1996-Present: Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba
  • 1980-1996: Professor at the University of Manitoba
  • 1966-1969: Consultant in Energy and Environmental Affairs to the Board of the Chief Architect in the Czech Republic
  • 1961, 1972: RNDr from Carolinum University Prague, PhD from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Pennsylvania State University


Energy: Energy Transitions; Global Energy Outlook; Energy Demand and Technical Advances

Environment: Global Environmental Change; Environmental Risks; Harvesting the Biosphere

Food: Feeding the World; Future of Meat Consumption

Technical Innovation: History of Engineering Progress; Energy Innovations

Current Affairs: Population Growth; Manufacturing and National Prospects

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