Vaclav Smil

Smil is a profilic author on energy economics and history, and his work is remarkably well evidenced and broad in its scope. His books are some of the best works of nonfiction I've read, where Energy and Civilisation (EaC) literally changed how I look at the world. In this short piece, I'll try to articulate some areas of disagreement, where I think he's wrong, without reducing my stance into the sort of blind techno-optimism that is pervasive in 2020 Silicon Valley. Given below are some broad and strong claims he makes in either EaC or Creating the Twentieth Century (CTTC). Each claim is either mostly unsubstantiated, or just a flat out an opinion disguised as fact.

Note. CTTC is the title of the book, but I use it to refer to the group of innovations he discusses in the book, innovations made from 1867-1914 (Haber process, x-rays, electricity, telegraph, automobiles, etc) that he believes are far more impactful and epochal than the late computer industry.