Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Door Meten tot Weten

"In contrast to many energetics studies of the past which focus on narrow segments, 
--  GENERAL ENERGETICS   Energy in the Biosphere and Civilization  --  
presents a 'supersynthesis', linking biosphere and civilizational aspects, but still retains all the relevant critical energy storages, flows and conversions.

The book is the first comprehensive, single-volume treatment of all important aspects of biospheric and civilizational energetics. 

Since the 1960s, the growing activity in interdisciplinary analyses of complex systems has resulted in the publication of major sectIonal syntheses in many areas. This book combines these syntheses and the author's original interdisciplinary research in various fields of energetics over the past 25 years to form a grand overview of energy's indispensability in natural processes and in human affairs." 

...so advises the dust-cover blurb.  And it was not only in 1991 the 'first comprehensive, single-volume treatment' of 'Energy in the Biosphere and Civilization', but remains so to this day, as far as I could find out. A view of the index will illustrate:

Long studying and learning from the writings of Vaclav Smil, 
                          [37]  http://cleanenergypundit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/tyger-tygers.html

and when Amazon found Smil's GENERAL ENERGETICS I had to have it - never mind the publication date of 1991; the whole gamut of Energy in the Biosphere and Civilization by the 'Einstein of Energetics' was not to be missed.  Greatly rewarded when reading alone the guiding principles of this book  --

from the Preface:

Energy is the only life and is
from the Body;
and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
Energy is the only delight.
 William Blake
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
and heading Chapter 1:

And the things best to know are first principles and causes.
for through them and from them all other things may be known but not they through the things covered by them...
But these things, the most universal, are perhaps the most difficult things for men to grasp,
for they are farthest removed from the senses.
all of which brought to mind:

Door Meten tot Weten
Through Measurement to Knowledge
or due to the closer language affinity to German

Durch Messen zu Wissen
Heike Kamerling Onnes
Dutch cryogenist and Nobel Laureate

The remainder of the cover blurb:

"GENERAL ENERGETICS stands apart owing to Its comprehensive, interdisciplinary, evolutionary coverage. It progresses from a detailed look at the planetary energetics (from solar radiation to earth tectonics), photosynthesis and heterotrophic metabolism, to an assessment of human energetics and food needs. Next it traces energetic foundations of all critical stages of Human evolution, from simple foraging to traditional agricultures and complexification of pre-industrial societies to the emergence of high energy fossil-fuelled civilization with its technical advances, social and environmental consequences, and uncertain prospects. It concludes with discussions of general patterns and trends of energy use, environmental implications, and socioeconomic considerations.

The book is also unique for its unifying approach based on several fundamental physical variables -- energy and power densities and intensities -- that are used as common denominators of otherwise disparate energy processes to assess the rates and limits of natural and anthropogenic conversions. It also focuses on the essentials to present defensible generalizations, outline critical processes, and portray a grand image of natural and civilizational energetics. This book will be of great benefit for readers from anthropologists to engineers and from biologists to historians." 

In the light of this last introductory paragraph alone, I would have thought that a more recent version of such an energetics overview must be available somewhere, but could not be found. And then I realised that the only reason I was able to obtain this invaluable overview of the whole gamut of energetics considerations was because a university exorcised it from its library:

Another similar instance happened when stumbling across The Birth of Thermodynamics cf. http://cleanenergypundit.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/thefour-laws-withoutwhich-nothing.html [not forgetting its corollary: http://cleanenergypundit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/eroei-or-iou.htm] where another university resorted to similar exorcism of an historical scientific finding of lasting significance.

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it's enemy action” -- are there more instances of such university library clearances of significant publications providing insights of albeit historical milestones not to be forgotten or of 'context reckoners' 
crying out to be brought up-to-date? 

The existing chapter headings in outline might continue to do their service:
while first level subheadings might also serve as named if passing scrutiny:
before their respective fundamental physical variables are updated in line with the yellow highlighted quotation and paragraph above.  

My great hope would be that Vaclav Smil, a publisher and Bill Gates -- known proponent of Vaclav Smil  -- 
between them and co-opted others would find a solution to update and sustain this 'supersynthesis' .

Monday, 5 September 2016


Possibly the most all-embracing WHODUNNIT ever written  -  and it wasn’t the Butler either. Definitely needs reading from start to finish – one long crescendo outperforming Ravel’s – with a virtuoso cadenza bound to generate a long reverberation-time embracing not only individual brains but diverse whole cultural fiefdoms.

Tom Wolfe: Jonathan Cape, London, 2016


COMMENT added 06 SEP 2016:

It occurred to me that a TYGER like Tom Wolfe might have a comment on Donald Trump – and found an interview in The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/65918_tom-wolfes-view-trump/  from which I would like to quote this part:

           “If you go through our history, the strictly intellectual component of the presidency is not all that important. Just look at Reagan. He was a huge success. He was considered an idiot by half of the people in the political field.
           I remember Henry Kissinger was at a university once, holding a seminar for ten students and he didn’t know that his remarks were being recorded. And he said something like, “You know, when you first meet Reagan and you spend a half hour with him, you leave saying, ‘Oh my God, how could the future of the free world be dependent on such a stupid guy?’” But then Kissinger said, “And yet every move he makes is right.” Kissinger was horribly embarrassed when that came out. The point is that decision making is not necessarily an intellectual talent.

           One of the stories about Reagan that I remember is the time he went to Germany to speak before the Berlin Wall. It was at the time when the Berlin Wall was still a big factor. And so Reagan had a discussion with his advisers about whether or not he should say that the “wall should come down.” And they said, “Oh, don’t say that,” and then told him what he should say instead. But when Reagan gave the speech, he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and it was a real turning point in the Cold War. It was just Reagan’s gut reaction to the facts.”

This brought to mind something in relation to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 which I recently mentioned in one of my blogs --  http://cleanenergypundit.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/brexit-musings.html -- where I quote Vaclav Smil: 

          “Russia, too, is part of my Europe. Arguments about Russia’s place in (or outside of) Europe have been going on for centuries… I have never understood the Western reluctance of the Russian hesitancy to place the country unequivocally in Europe… its history, music, literature, engineering, and science make it quintessentially European.” p.93
Global Catastrophes and Trends [MIT Press, 2008]

in relation to which I found this comment by Noam Chomsky:

          “The near-universal Western condemnation of Putin in­cludes citing the "emotional address" in which he complained bitterly that the U.S. and its allies had "cheated us again and again, made decisions behind our back, presenting us with completed facts. With the expansion of NATO in the East, with the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. They always told us the same thing: 'Well, this doesn't in­volve you.'

          Putin's complaints are factually accurate. When Presi­dent Gorbachev accepted the unification of Germany as part of NATO -- an astonishing concession in the light of history -- there was a quid pro quo. Washington agreed that NATO would not move "one inch eastward," referring to East Germany.

          The promise was immediately broken, and when Gorbachev complained, he was instructed that it was only a verbal promise, so without force.
President Clinton proceeded to expand NATO much farther to the east, to Russia's borders. Today there are calls to extend NATO even to Ukraine, deep into the historic Rus­sian "neighbourhood." But it "doesn't involve" the Russians, because its responsibility to "uphold peace and stability" re­quires that American red lines are at Russia's borders”.
[Because We Say So, Hamish Hamilton, London, 2015]

While it is apparent from Tom Wolfe’s book that Noam Chomsky and epigones dismally failed Sir Karl Popper’s litmus test of

          “Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve”

being one of my ‘wooden-nickel-detectors’,

it is in relation to many other topics -- as in the Gorbachev reference – that Chomsky can be welcomed as a quite  perspicacious detector of wooden nickels.



Monday, 22 August 2016


I found a book in an antiquarian bookshop which contains a proposal for a European federal constitution. I would like to present some excerpts in translation.

The book in question is:
Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi:  DIE EUROPÄISCHE NATION [The European Nation], Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Stuttgart, 1953
Coudenhove-Kalergy is described on the title page as “President of the Pan-European Movement and Professor of History at the University of New York”.

A translation on the Contents page may be of interest:

                                                         I.          The European Nation             
a.      Nations Rise and Fall
b.      European Culture
c.      European Race
d.      European Common Fate

                                                        II.          History of the European Nation
a.      The Greek Prelude
b.      Pax Romana
c.      The Christian Occident
d.      Modern Europe

                                                      III.          History of the Concept of Europe
a.      Dante and Dubois
b.      King George of Bohemia and Sully
c.      Penn and St. Pierre [Abbé de St. Pierre, 1658-1743]
d.      From St. Pierre to WW 1.

                                                      IV.          History of the Pan-European Movement
a.      Pan-Europe
b.      Beginnings of a Pan-European Movement
c.      Briand’s Initiative
d.      Pan-Europe vs. Hitler

                                                        V.          Birth of a European Alliance
a.      European Movement and Parliamentary Union
b.      The European Council
c.      En route to a Federal State
d.      Perspectives

Documentary Appendix:

        The Pan-European Manifesto (1924)
        Draft of a Constitution for a Federal Europe (1951)

In section III. d. -- From St Pierre to WW1 -- it is interesting to read:
The founding fathers of the United States of America were conscious of creating a model for a United States of Europe. With this in mind, George Washington wrote to Lafayette: “We have sown the Seeds of Freedom and of the Union, which shall bear fruit throughout the Earth. One day, following the model of the United States, the United States of Europe will be founded”.

Similarly, Benjamin Franklin, while helping to draft the American Constitution, wrote to a friend in Paris: “…I enclose a draft of a federal constitution for our United States… If successful, then I see no reason why you in Europe should not realize the project of King Henry IV and create a republic from all the various states and kingdoms by using a similar constitution, for we ourselves had to reconcile many differences.”

Here then is this proposed constitution from the Documentary Appendix (pages 161-164):
 Formulated by the “Constitutional Committee for the United States of Europe”.
Arising from a proposal by the Pan-European Movement during its European Convention in Strasbourg in November 1950, a “Constitutional Committee for the United States of Europe” was to be convened which should consist exclusively of members drawn from members of this Strasbourg European Convention, to draw up a draft Constitution for a European federal state. This draft should later serve as the discussion basis during official negotiations.

The following ten members of the European Convention signed as founders:

Benvenuti (Italy), Bohy (Belgium), von Brentano (Germany), Braun (Saarland), Maccas (Greece), Mackay (Great Britain), Maxudi (Turkey), Philip (France), Schmal (Netehterlands), Wolters (Luxemburg).

The general secretary of the Committee, R.Coudenhove-Kalergy, sent invitations to join this constitutional drafting committee to all members of the European Convention resulting in 76 parliamentarians joining.

After months-long negotiations and two conferences in Basle and Strasbourg, the constitutional committee agreed the following text on 6th May 1951:


We, the people of ……….

in recognition of our common cultural heritage,
endeavouring to promote social justice,
concerned with increasing the general wellbeing,
determined to preserve human liberty,
willing to secure peace,

have agreed to combine our separate states as a federation named UNITED STATES OF EUROPE, whose authorities are enshrined in the Constitution here presented.

 Fundamental Principles
 Article 1.
All member states of the Federation have equal rights and common duties.
 Article 2.
The Federation is a community of sovereign states who have resolved to create and maintain constitutional institutions.
Member states shall continue to carry out their sovereign rights directly, in as far as they have not been transferred to common institutions created in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.
Joining the Federation is voluntary.
 Article 3.
               As soon as the constitutionally empowered organs of at least five European states with a combined population exceeding one hundred million have ratified this constitution, it will be in force for these states.
               Any remaining European states may subsequently join the Federation if they honour the human rights as formulated by the Council of Europe and have similarly ratified their accession. Their accession will have to be approved by the European Federal Assembly.
 Article 4.
               The federation will determine a statute law for all citizens of member states defining their Rights of Citizenship of the United States of Europe.
Article 5.
            The Federation is duty-bound to take all measures to secure public order and peace.
 Article 6.
               The Federation maintains diplomatic and consular relations with powers which are not federation members. It can make international agreements.
               Member states may exchange diplomatic representatives amongst themselves as well with foreign powers.
 Article 7.
               The Federation is empowered to take all measures for the standardization of the European economy.
 Article 8.
               The Federation respects the democratic constitutions of member states.
               In any conflicts between laws of a member state and federal laws, only the federal law is valid.
The Federal Authorities

1. The Federal Parliament
Article 9.
               The Federal Parliament, consisting of a House of Representatives and of a Senate, has the legislative power of the federation.
               The Parliament shall meet at least once every year.
               The people belonging to a member state, are represented in the House of Representatives in proportion to their numbers, with one representative for every one million or fraction of a million citizens.
               Representatives are elected by direct election for a term of four years, in general franchise, and in accordance with the national laws of each member state.
               Then Senate consist of delegates from national parliaments.
               Every member state is entitled to twelve delegates. States with fewer than one million citizens are entitled to    only six delegates.
               Following each parliamentary election in member states, the respective delegates to the Federal Parliament shall be newly appointed.
               Both chambers of the Federal Parliament shall convene separately.  Their separate authorities, however, remain identical and the approval of both houses is required for any parliamentary resolution.
 Article 10.
               The federal budget is in the sole prerogative of the Federal Parliament.
 Article 11.
               Both chambers of Federal Parliament unite into the Federal Assembly for the following events:
a.      election of the federal council
b.      election of judges for the federal court
c.      accession of new member states
d.      changes to the constitution
2. The Federal Council
Article 12.
               The executive authority is a Federal Council, whose nine members are elected by the Federal Assembly for a tenure of four years.
The Federal Council remains in session until a new Council is constituted.
Article 13.
               The Federal Council is accountable to the Federal Parliament for all its actions.
               Authorities within the Federal Council are distributed among its members in accordance with allocations of administrative departments.
               All decisions are made in the name of the Federal Council.
Article 14.
               In case the external or internal peace or the security of the Federation is disturbed or under threat, the Council must take all necessary measures which it must immediately report to the Federal Parliament.
Article 15.
               The Federal Council elects annually for a term of one year by simple majority one of its members as President and a further member as Vice President. The President, or in case of his inability, the Vice President, is chairman of the Federal Council.
               The President of the Federal Council is at the same time the President of the United States of Europe.

3. The Federal Court of Justice 
Article 16.
               The Federal Court of Justice consists of fifteen members.
               The judges are elected form a list of 45 nominees, prepared by the Federal Council, by two-thirds majority of the Federal Convention for a life-time appointment.  The judges elect a President of the Court from amongst themselves.
Article 17.
               The Federal Court of Justice is responsible for:
a.      the interpretation of the Constitution
b.      for the settlement of disputes amongst member states.
The Federal Parliament can enlarge the responsibility of the Federal Court of Justice by federal law to include other spheres of responsibility.

Constitutional amendments
Article 18.
               Constitutional amendments require a three-quarters majority of all members of the Federal Assembly.


This 1951 draft constitution – while no doubt needing far more work – is at least a solid framework for a democratic federation, from which the current European Union (EU) is about as distant as any other democratically unaccountable fiefdom elsewhere.

Let me start with at what one might mean by ‘Europe’, best explained by various map views.


The view of the strictly geographical definition:

The EU view:

The Council of Europe:

…and its map of current members:

There is, of course also the Europe of thought, perhaps best remembered by thinking of its Greek roots, the age of enlightenment and age of reason, and the unbeatable summary in the words libertéégalitéfraternité of the French revolution, but also not forgetting the various intervening dark ages during the last three millenia or so. We are still far from having sustainably globalized these three guiding stars of liberté, égalité, fraternité requiring constant vigilance against marauders and also need ‘spring cleaning’*  through renaissances – an ongoing Sisyphean task.

As it happened, I stumbled across this ‘ancient’ (1956) pocket book while looking through my random-order library searching for something else recently:

Robert B Downs: BOOKS that changed the World, a Mentor Book
In this list of books there appeared amongst those I have read, one appearing in current news – namely Alfred T Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power Upon History – when reading about recent naval activities inter alia by China, US, India. The next book mentioned in this collection – Halford J Mackinder’s The Geographical Pivot of History – I thought I had never heard of before. On double-checking, however, I found that Buckminster Fuller referred to Mackinder in his Critical Path [Hutchinson, London, 1983], but I had paid attention to, and remembered, only his references to Mahan. This happened very likely because of the impact of this brief quote from Fuller’s Critical Path

          “After the World War I the British were so ‘tired’ that they did not listen to Mackinder as they had before. In the 1920s he tried to make the British realize that the airplane altogether eliminated the world’s shorelines as the limit of travel”.  

Not so, it seems as these two illustrations may show without many words:

 The worlds shipping routes delineate the continental coasts.

While the last picture shows the world’s coastlines simply by lines connecting the terminal ports of shipping routes, it also becomes obvious that all of that sea traffic happens only because the people inhabiting these vast hinterland areas can’t do without that growing interchange of raw materials and manufactured products – while transport of people has shifted to air travel save for ferries and cruise liners. When first visiting the US starting from Munich in 1952/3 the only way to get there still had to be by liner, in my case from Genoa to New York (courtesy American Field Service).

But back to the Books that Changed the World, where Mackinder figures as Chapter 9 under the heading HEARTLAND AND WORLD ISLAND – Sir Halford J Mackinder: “The Geographical Pivot of History”.  

Robert B. Downs there writes: 
“Within little more than a decade after Admiral Mahan had demonstrated, so convincingly and conclusively, the historical invincibility of sea power, the applicability of his doctrine to the future was seriously undermined, if not invalidated, by two new factors. One, in the material realm, was the Wright brothers’ first successful experiments, in 1903, with a powered airplane. The second, in the realm of ideas, was a scientific paper, written in 1904, by an English geographer, Halford Mackinder, later celebrated as ‘the father of geopolitics’.
In neither case did the world recognize immediately the monumental significance of these two events; nevertheless, the face of the globe was to be irretrievably changed by them.
No more improbable setting could be conceived for the dissemination of revolutionary theories than the meeting of the Royal Geographical Society in London, January 25, 1904, at which Mackinder read his famous paper, ‘The Geographical Pivot of History.’ Filling only twenty-four printed pages, the work was no more than an ordinary pamphlet in length, but its remarkable analysis of the interrelations of geography and politics, past and present, throughout the world introduced concepts that subsequently swayed the thinking of political and military leaders, economists, geographers, and historians everywhere.
At the end of the World War I, Mackinder developed his argument in considerably expanded detain in Democratic Ideals and Reality, though without essential modification of his original thesis….”

In the course of discussing the Mackinder’s thoughts further right into the forties and fifties of the last century – just like the Coudenhove-Kalergi book referred to earlier. However, in the current context of musing about the possibilities that Brexit, I don’t want to dwell on history, but on ideas worth remembering – and there would be this quote related by Downs from Mackinder’s original paper:

            “Is not the pivot region of the world’s politics that vast area of Euro-Asia which is inaccessible to ships, but in antiquity lay open to the horse-riding nomads, and is today about to be covered with a network of railways? There have been and are here the conditions of a mobility of military and economic power of a far-reaching and yet limiting character.”

 And from the concluding paragraph of Downs’ review of Mackinder’s Geographical Pivot of History : 
            "Criticism has exposed the weakness of some details of Mackinder’s views, but it has not invalidated his basic premises. As ‘the first to provide us with a global concept of the world and its affairs,’ in John C. Winant’s phrase, he will be long remembered. 
           “There is,” declared Mackinder, “no complete geographical region either less than or greater than the whole of the earth’s surface.”

That brings me back to 1963 when I heard Buckminster Fuller in London on his way (back or from?) the UIA (International Union of Architects) conference in Paris where he presented his definition of the overriding onus on all designers – in the sense of 'design is the designation of means to an end’:
“... to render the total chemical* and energy resources of the world, which are now exclusively preoccupied in serving only 44% of humanity, adequate to the service of 100% of humanity, at higher standards of living and total enjoyment than any man has yet experienced.”
*I would add intellectual to this list of resources

Fuller’s magnum opus in following his own design brief is his CRITICAL PATH [© 1981, my copy Hutchinson and Co, London, 1983]. The foreword of this book alone is essential reading, and I have explained this opinion in one of my blogs at 

Another special mention in this blog is the reference to what I called my TYGER reads. Since I only know what I read, and reading time being mostly during the night, William Blake’s poem fitted my night-time astonishments when reading things that really dumbfounded and at the same time inspired me to keep up ‘the pleasure of finding things out’, to paraphrase Richard Feynman.

The first TYGER posting is at http://cleanenergypundit.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/tyger-httpwww.html  where I also mention Vaclav Smil who inspired me beyond dreams with his encyclopaedic knowledge of things ‘energy’ in all its forms – and insisting on measuring ins and outs – similar to the statement of Kamerling Onnes [Physics Nobel Laureate 1913] “Tor meten tot weten”,  from measuerement to knowledge. His work briefly….

When different substances are cooled to very low temperatures, their properties change. In 1908 Heike Kamerlingh Onnes used an ingenious apparatus to cool helium to liquid form. Fluid helium was carefully studied and also became an important aid for the cooling of different substances and charting their properties at low temperatures. In 1911 Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered that the electrical resistance of mercury completely disappeared at temperatures a few degrees above absolute zero. The phenomenon became known as superconductivity.

…no wonder I came across his name when reading about thermodynamics – but his level is way beyond my layman’s approach to things scientific.

But there are specialists who also interpret professorial levels of sciences for the likes of me, among them Vaclav Smil, part of my first TYGER reads. I was dumbfounded after reading some of his books, that his name is rarely mentioned in general discussions of things ‘energy’.  I was right away convinced that his books are ‘must reads’.  To quote a description from his home page [2016] at http://www.vaclavsmil.com/ :

“Vaclav Smil does interdisciplinary research in the fields of energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk assessment, and public policy. He has published 37 books and nearly 500 papers on these topics. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Science Academy). In 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the top 100 global thinkers and in 2013 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada. He has worked as a consultant for many US, EU and international institutions, has been an invited speaker in more than 400 conferences and workshops in the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia and Africa, and has lectured at many universities in North America, Europe and East Asia. His wife Eva is a physician and his son David is an organic chemist.”

 I later found that This is the man Bill Gates thinks you absolutely should be reading,
 writes Clive Thompson in WIRED magazine:

“There is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil,” Bill Gates wrote this summer. That’s quite an endorsement—and it gave a jolt of fame to Smil, a professor emeritus of environment and geography at the University of Manitoba. In a world of specialized intellectuals, Smil is an ambitious and astonishing polymath who swings for fences. His nearly three dozen books have analyzed the world’s biggest challenges—the future of energy, food production, and manufacturing—with nuance and detail. They’re among the most data-heavy books you’ll find, with a remarkable way of framing basic facts. (Sample nugget: Humans will consume 17 percent of what the biosphere produces this year.)
His conclusions are often bleak. He argues, for instance, that the demise of US manufacturing dooms the country not just intellectually but creatively, because innovation is tied to the process of making things. (And, unfortunately, he has the figures to back that up.) WIRED got Smil’s take on the problems facing America and the world.”

One of Vaclav Smil’s books – Global Catastrophes and Trends – The Next Fifty Years [MIT Press, Cambridge Mass. 2008] has this to say in my current context: 
From the back cover description:

              "Fundamental change occurs most often in one of two ways:  as a 'fatal discontinuity.' a sudden catastrophic event that is potentially world changing, or as a persistent, gradual trend. Global catastrophes include volcanic eruptions, viral pandemics, wars, and large-scale terrorist attacks; trends are demographic, environmental, economic, and political shifts that unfold over time. In this provocative book, scientist Vaclav Smil takes a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary look at the catastrophes and trends the next fifty years may bring. This is not a book of forecasts or scenarios but one that reminds us to pay attention to, and plan for, the consequences of apparently unpredictable events and the ultimate direction of long-term trends...."

A small paragraph from Chapter 3 Unfolding Trends sums up the essence of trends affecting practically all of human endeavours:

              "Perhaps the most helpful way to think about globalization would be to get rid of the term, and not just because that noun has become so emotionally charged. The term interdependence describes much more accurately the realities of modern econ­omies. Once they left behind the limited autarkies of the preindustrial era, states have come to rely on more distant and more diverse sources of energy, raw materi­als, food, and manufactured products and on increasingly universal systems of communication and information processing. No country can now escape this imper­ative, and as this process advances, it will become impossible for any nation—no matter how technically adept or how militarily strong—to claim a commanding place on top."

After all, local or global wealth creation is not a zero-sum game where one party must lose what another may gain best summarized perhaps by Fuller and Alvin and Heidi Toffler:

In the Brexit context, two further comments by Smil should be kept in mind:

“Russia, too, is part of my Europe. Arguments about Russia’s place in (or outside of) Europe have been going on for centuries… I have never understood the Western reluctance or the Russian hesitancy to place the country unequivocally in Europe… its history, music, literature, engineering, and science make it quintessentially European.” p.93

“Russia has another strength in its intellectual capacity. The country has always had many highly creative scientists and engineers, whose fundamental contributions are generally unknown to the Western public. How many people watching a scanner toting up their groceries know that Russian physicists, together with their US colleagues, pioneered masers and lasers. (Nobel prices in physics were awarded to Nikolai Gennadievich Basov and Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov in 1964 and to Zhores Ivanovich Alferov in 2000.) How many people seeing the images of the US Air Force stealth planes know that this class of aircraft began with Piotr Iakovlevich Ufimtse’s (1962) equations for predicting the reflections of electromagnetic waves from surfaces?”

All considered – could Brexit be the first step to a new Federal United Europe – connected to both world oceans by land and sea, when the engendered sea traffic should also keep the Arctic maritime route free, plus a road across the Bering Strait to cap it all?