Numbers Don’t Lie

71 Things You Need to Know About the World

by Vaclav Smil. 

I am not great with numbers. I know enough about analytics to realise that the most important thing, is to ask the right questions. Vaclav Smil does just that. And he provides some great succinct answers too. I first heard about this book by a review by Bill Gates. Love or hate him, Bill described this as one of his favourite books, and from his favourite author too. And Bill is a smart chap.

“Numbers Don’t Lie is Vaclav Smil’s most accessible book yet.”

Bill Gates

Vaclav asks some bloody big questions. What makes people happy? How far can China go? And digs into some timely subjects, such as why Europe should be so pleased with itself and the harsh realities of Brexit.

“The UK has not been self-sufficient in food production for a few centuries, and its dependency on imports has doubled from about 20 percent in the early 1980s to 40 percent in recent years, and in the short term nothing short of draconian food rationing (and no fresh produce in winter) can significantly reduce this import dependence. Three-quarters of British food imports come from the EU…”

Brexit: Realities that matter most will not change

Is the US really exceptional? How far can China go? And he pits together two global heavyweights, India vs. China. 

The 1880s were lit

I never realised just how mega the 1880s were. The most inventive time in human history. From the safety bicycle, to CocaCola, electricity and the internal combustion engine!

Heinrich Hertz’s experiments proved the existence of electromagnetic waves. Hello 5G, hello WiFi! And where would we be without antiperspirant, revolving doors and elevators?

There is a whole section on fuels and electricity. Why we need bigger batteries and why sunlight is still best.

In transport, we get around such topics as, why electric cars are not as great as we think. And just how safe is flying?

Have you ever wondered, how many people did it take to build the Great Pyramids?

The Great Pyramids, Egypt

Planet of the cows

Finally we move onto the environment. We learn about the planet of the cows, and the deaths of elephants. What’s worse for the environment – your car or your phone?

And Vaclav discusses insulation, arguably the best thing one can do for the environment. Perhaps Insulate Britain are on the right track?

“The quest for untested technical fixes is the curse of energy policy. Take your pick: self-driving solar-powered cars, inherently safe nuclear minireactors, or genetically enhanced photosynthesis. But why not start with what is proven? Why not simply reduce the demand for energy, beginning with residential and commercial buildings? Both in the United States and in the European Union, buildings account for about 40 percent of total primary energy consumption (transportation comes second, at 28 percent in the US and about 22 percent in the EU). Heating and air conditioning account for half of residential consumption, which is why the single best thing we could do for the energy budget is to keep the heat in (or out) with better insulation. The most rewarding place to do that is in windows, where the energy loss is the highest. That is to say, it has the highest thermal transmittance, measured in watts passing through a square meter of material, divided by the difference in temperature in kelvins on either side.”

Triple-glazed windows: A see-through energy solution

Vaccination numbers and pandemic predictions

As the world prepares to administer her 6 billionth Covid-19 vaccine shot. It’s good to know that Vaccinations offer the best return on our investment. But also sobers us up with why it’s difficult to predict how bad a pandemic will be while it is happening. Just remember Vaccinations are an act of love and Covid has led to what has been described as a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated.

“Death due to infectious diseases in infancy and childhood remains perhaps the cruelest fate in the modern world, and one of the most preventable. Measures needed to minimize this untimely mortality cannot be ranked as to their importance: clean drinking water and adequate nutrition are as vital as disease prevention and proper sanitation. But if you judge them by their benefit-cost ratios, vaccination is the clear winner.”

The best return on investment: Vaccination
Bill Gates – Numbers don’t lie video review

For every dollar invested in vaccination, $16 is expected to be saved in healthcare costs and the lost wages and lost productivity caused by illness and death.

The best return on investment: Vaccination

I really enjoyed this book. And I hope you do too. x

Categorized as Love

By Rich Senior

Meditator, Yogi, Tai Chi practitioner, Guitar player, Music maker, Writer and Web developer.

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