Prime Movers of Globalization The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines
The many books on globalization published over the past few years range from claimsthat the world is flat to an unlikely rehabilitation of Genghis Khan as a pioneer of globalcommerce. Missing from these accounts is a consideration of the More...
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The many books on globalization published over the past few years range from claimsthat the world is flat to an unlikely rehabilitation of Genghis Khan as a pioneer of globalcommerce. Missing from these accounts is a consideration of the technologies behind the creation ofthe globalized economy. What makes it possible for us to move billions of tons of raw materials andmanufactured goods from continent to continent? Why are we able to fly almost anywhere on the planetwithin twenty-four hours? In Prime Movers of Globalization, Vaclav Smil offers ahistory of two key technical developments that have driven globalization: the high-compressionnon-sparking internal combustion engines invented by Rudolf Diesel in the 1890s and the gas turbinesdesigned by Frank Whittle and Hans-Joachim Pabst von Ohain in the 1930s. The massive diesel enginesthat power cargo ships and the gas turbines that propel jet engines, Smil argues, are more importantto the global economy than any corporate structure or international trade agreement. Smil comparesthe efficiency and scale of these two technologies to prime movers of the past, including the sailand the steam engine. The lengthy processes of development, commercialization, and diffusion thatthe diesel engine and the gas turbine went through, he argues, provide perfect examples of gradualtechnical advances that receive little attention but have resulted in epochal shifts in globalaffairs and the global economy.
Robert Pollin is Professor of Economics and Codirector of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has served as a consultant on energy and the economy for a wide range of organizations and institutions, including the U.S. Department of Energy, the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Program (UNIDO), and numerous non-governmental organizations. He is author of Back to Full Employment (MIT Press), also in the Boston Review series, and Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Austerity.Vaclav Smil is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of more than thirty books, including <I>Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Taken from Nature</I> and, most recently, <I>Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing,</I> both published by the MIT Press. In 2010 he was named by <I>Foreign Policy</I> as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2013 Bill Gates wrote on his website that "there is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil."