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Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong by [Bryce, Robert]
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Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong Kindle Edition


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Length: 402 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"A book brimming with well-founded enthusiasm about the amazing present and the prospects for a more amazing future...exploding with fascinating energy facts and...super-fun to read...Bryce takes his appreciation of innovation and uses it to illuminate the past, present, and future of innovation across the board."--Forbes "So what went wrong -- or, rather, right? Why is the human race in much better shape than it was 200, 100, or 50 years ago? Robert Bryce reminds us of the answers in his sprightly new book and promises that even better times lie ahead...Bryce's new book is an enlightening stroll down the sunny side of the street." --Hiawatha Bray,the Boston Globe "Engrossing survey"--Arthur Herman, the Wall Street Journal "A celebration of innovations that have produced cheaper and more abundant energy, faster computing, lighter vehicles and other technological benefits...Bryce [is a] booster for business and technology; he makes many intriguing arguments in this 'rejoinder to the doomsayers [and] rebuttal to the catastrophists who insist that disaster lurks just around the corner.'"--Kirkus Reviews "The author of four books on oil and energy, Mr. Bryce has written a new book well worth reading...Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper...captures the headlong rush of Western culture's endless drive for ever better technology. It is an extraordinary impulse that has created a world in which more people live longer and more comfortably than ever before."--Fred Andrews, New York Times "For years, Robert Bryce has been calling for rationality on energy policy. In this book, Bryce goes beyond energy to explain why the innovation that drives entrepreneurs is the way of the future. I'm an unapologetic capitalist. Reading Smaller Faster has only fortified my belief that the best way to address poverty is through entrepreneurial capitalism that produces more innovation and progress." --John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO, Whole Foods Market, and co-author of Conscious Capitalism "Robert Bryce may be our finest observer of the energy scene. Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper displays all the virtues -- the contacts, the technical savvy, the wit and clear thinking -- that make Bryce indispensable." --Charles R. Morris, author of The Dawn of Innovation and Comeback "Don't be misled by Robert Bryce's very breezy style. His new book makes important and positive observations about the world's energy future. You don't have to agree with every one of his attitudes or conclusions to hope that the reporting and arguments in the book are taken seriously, and that the innovators and start-ups he vividly describes get the support they need." --James Fallows "[Bryce's] new book constitutes a direct assault against the policies of "degrowth" advanced by those who peddle what he calls "collapse anxiety". The book is also a sustained argument against the fundamentally pessimistic worldview that underlies those policies... The claim that we can and should replace fossil fuels with renewables such as wind and solar is, Bryce says, a "damnable lie" that obscures the far more important question of what we should do to make more energy available to more people, especially 'the more than two billion people who are still living in abject energy poverty."--John Daniel Davidson, National Review "Part of the fun of Bryce's book comes from the sheer range of his examples... he has a way of bringing them to life."--Josiah Neeley, Master Resource " I found the contrarian views expressed in Bryce's new book to be a refreshing antidote to the gloom and doom that pervades the TV screens and print media today. He shows us there is hope, as long as the human power to innovate and make changes is present."--Huntington News, review

About the Author

Robert Bryce is the acclaimed author of four previous books, including, most recently, Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, his articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Austin Chronicle, Bloomberg View, Counterpunch, and National Review. An apiarist, he lives in Austin with his wife, Lorin, and their three children.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 8995 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1610392051
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Trade Paper Edition edition (13 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IHGVRZG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #568,102 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8aaec5e8) out of 5 stars 78 reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8aaf0660) out of 5 stars Balanced and thoughtful look at energy, climate change, and a whole lot more 14 May 2014
By Edward Durney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Back in 2008 I read and reviewed another of Robert Bryce's books, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence". While I thought that book was well researched and well written, I also thought he went too far with his language. "Gusher of lies" and "dangerous delusions" are strong words, and I did not think Robert Bryce made his case for using them. Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future too seemed a little too much hyperbole and a little too little balance.

This new book is better. More balanced, more measured, but still with Robert Bryce's journalist eye for the issues, and his research and writing skills. This time around, he makes the argument that people are innovative, and that while we face some stiff challenges as humans, we also have proven in the past that we have the capability to solve problems just as thorny as those we face now. So he gives more of a nod to the arguments made by those who predict catastrophe, while still not accepting their forebodings of darkest doom.

Take energy, for example, which is the main topic Robert Bryce discusses in this book. In the previous books I read, Robert Bryce was quite dismissive of solar power. He told about how he had solar panels on his own roof, but they did not live up to their promise. In this book, by contrast, he is a little bullish on solar power, saying that its costs have dropped so dramatically that what did not make sense before now has a future. (He remains skeptical of wind power, since it takes up so much space, and points out that we are stuck with hydrocarbons for decades if not a century. But his preferred path is N2N, or natural gas to nuclear.)

To make his case that innovation can help us solve problems (note that he just says "help" -- he warns that technology is not going to solve every problem, giving a nod to Evgeny Morozov and his book To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism), Robert Bryce looks back at the history of technology as well as traveling the world to report on what he sees. He looks at how so much of technology has changed the way we live our lives. Hunger was a real problem, and people like Paul Ehrlich predicted a hunger catastrophe that never happened. Hunger still remains a stubborn problem in parts of the world, but no mass starvation has occurred. The Green Revolution proved the catastrophists wrong.

The topics Robert Bryce covers, the stories he tells, and the lessons from history he draws, are all so rich and varied that a summary will not do them justice. Suffice it to say, as a summary, that he feels that Bill McKibben and others who want to "degrowth" and retreat from the technological frontiers -- what Robert Bryce calls the "40 acres and a mule Green Acres plan" -- are advocating a path that would lead to problems, not to solutions. Instead, Robert Bryce thinks we need a pro-business, pro-innovation, and pro-human outlook, generating the wealth to help scientists, tinkerers, and entrepreneurs to develop the technologies we need. We need to find more energy, not less. More growth, not less. Everything needs to get smaller, faster, lighter, denser, and cheaper. But to do that, we need to move ahead, not back.

Myself, I'm already singing in the choir Robert Bryce is preaching to. So I'm not sure that those who are not, those who think differently than Robert Bryce, will find as much to like in this book as I did. But I think everyone interested in these topics and worried about the way the world is changing should read this book. Whether you agree with him or not, you will (I think) come away from this book with a changed perspective and with more information. And that's good for anyone.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a9aa2d0) out of 5 stars Our Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper (Better) Future 9 Jun. 2014
By Jared Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Robert Bryce has an important message that is lost on many commentators in the media today—that the world has gotten much better.

Instead of accepting this “collapse anxiety,” he provides a full-throated defense of human ingenuity and innovation. Getting back to nature à la Rousseau, Thoreau, and Carson by embracing renewable energy and decreased standards of living is not the way of the future. To continue the advancement of the developed and non-developed world, policymakers need to stop inhibiting progress and embrace the world’s master resource—energy.

Natural gas and nuclear power offer low-carbon solutions to the world’s increasing appetite for growth. Natural gas emits about half as much CO2 as coal does during electricity generation. The growth in U.S. natural gas production has done more to decrease CO2 emissions than every green energy government-mandated program in Europe.

Nuclear power plants have 2,100 times as much power density as wind energy. As Bryce repeatedly points out, density is green. Nuclear energy remains expensive and there are important safety risks to mitigate, but it is still in its infancy. Nuclear is the future, not renewable energy. As Bryce says, “We humans have been relying on renewable energy for thousands of years. And what did we learn in all that time? We found that renewable energy stinks.”

Bryce writes that if someone is anti-carbon and anti-nuclear, they are anti-growth and pro-blackout. Being against these two forms of energy is far from humanitarian since “degrowth” will return a large portion of the world to short lives of mere substance.

The right question to ask is not why we have poverty—it is why we have wealth. Until the recent growth that was enabled by access to cheap, efficient energy, humans lived very difficult lives. The past age that extreme environmentalists romanticize lacked social, intellectual, and economic mobility and was marked by lives of deprivation.

Just 200 years ago, 85 percent of the world lived on under $1 a day. Today, that number is only 16 percent, and falling. Those who want to return humanity to the time when the average life span was under 50 years (the United States before 1900 and the least-developed countries until the last quarter century) are advocating complete rejection of progress and the prosperity that accompanies it.

Most people in developing countries want to increase their life spans and embrace progress. They want to join Bryce’s future—one where human ingenuity is set free to build everything “Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper.”
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b4068f4) out of 5 stars Highly Recommended 6 May 2014
By JAL - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
For doomsayers who thrive on never-ending public pronouncements of impending ecological and societal collapse ... stop. Read this book. Robert Bryce clearly, carefully, and comprehensively explains how and why things have improved so much, thanks to technological advances. The book discusses key concepts, such as energy density, that are ignored by the green/organic/local crowd, and why, for those who believe increasing carbon emissions are altering the earth's climate for the worse, a natural gas to nuclear energy strategy is the only reasonable strategy. The author is no Polyanna, and he recognizes that some of these advances have caused problems. That's to be expected, but the overall tradeoffs have led to improvements in our lives that would astound individuals living just a century ago.

The clarity of Bryce's writing makes short work of even the most technical concepts, and there's even some humor thrown in. All in all, SFLDC is a welcome and overdue antidote to fearmongering and pessimism.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ab0733c) out of 5 stars Fantastic book. A real page-turner. 9 May 2014
By suesan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To start, this book is very practical and easy to read. Bryce addresses some of the world's most daunting issues and clearly discusses what is being done to address these challenges. The book gives a great overview of some of the most impactful innovations that have happened over the past few centuries and highlights some innovations/technologies that have enormous potential going forward. Bryce has a natural talent at explaining complex subjects in a way that is easy for the reader to understand. Power density is extremely important and this book clearly explains why. Regarding technological breakthroughs, I am blown away by how far we have come in a short amount of time. Throughout the book, Bryce entertainingly shows many different ways that humans are doing more with less.
I have read too many books that pinpoint all of the problems the world faces, but offer unrealistic solutions. This is not one of those books. All arguments made by Bryce are supported by facts and data. I recommend this book to anyone interested in innovation, technology, human ingenuity, or energy policy. Because the drive for smaller, faster, lighter, denser, and cheaper is applicable to nearly every industry today, this book applies to all businesses looking to be successful/competitive in the future.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ae2715c) out of 5 stars How the World Works 21 May 2014
By Jeff D. Sandefer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to understand how the world really works, without wading through Hayek or Mises, Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper is a must read.

Manhattan Institute Scholar Robert Bryce understands the driving forces behind energy, economics and history as well as anyone on the planet. If you read Smaller, Faster by Bryce; Bottomless Well by his colleague Peter Huber and The Prize by Daniel Yergin, you'll understand far more about the past, present and future than the editors of the New York Times.
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