If a chimpanzee ventures into the territory of a different group, it will almost certainly be killed. But a New Yorker can fly to Los Angeles–or Borneo–with very little fear. Psychologists have done little to explain this: for years, they have held that our biology puts a hard upper limit–about 150 people–on the size of our social groups. But human societies are in fact vastly larger. How do we manage–by and large–to get along with each other?
In this paradigm-shattering book, biologist Mark W. Moffett draws on findings in psychology, sociology and anthropology to explain the social adaptations that bind societies. He explores how the tension between identity and anonymity defines how societies develop, function, and fail. Surpassing Guns, Germs, and Steel and Sapiens, The Human Swarm reveals how mankind created sprawling civilizations of unrivaled complexity–and what it will take to sustain them.
Global demand for power is doubling every two decades, but electricity remains one of the most difficult forms of energy to supply and do so reliably. Today, some three billion people live in places where per-capita electricity use is less than what’s used by an average American refrigerator. How we close the colossal gap between the electricity rich and the electricity poor will determine our success in addressing issues like women’s rights, inequality, and climate change.
A “fascinating, eye-opening, sometimes alarming, and ultimately inspiring” natural history of rivers and their complex and ancient relationship with human civilization (Elizabeth Kolbert).
In Rivers of Power, geographer Laurence C. Smith explores the timeless yet vastly underappreciated relationship between rivers and civilization as we know it. Rivers are of course important in many practical ways (water supply, transportation, sanitation). But the full breadth of their profound influence on the way we live is less obvious. Rivers define and transcend international borders, forcing cooperation between nations. Huge volumes of river water are used to produce energy, raw commodities, and food. Wars, politics, and demography are transformed by their devastating floods. The territorial claims of nations, their cultural and economic ties to each other, and the migrations and histories of their peoples trace back to rivers, river valleys, and the topographic divides they carve upon the world.
Beautifully told and expansive in scope, Rivers of Power reveals how and why rivers have so profoundly influenced our civilization, and examines the importance this vast, arterial power holds for our present, past, and future.