“Every so often we need someone to put in a kind word for the devil, if only to remind us of unpleasant facts. On energy policy, we need someone willing to declare flat out that ‘if oil didn’t exist, we would have to invent it. No other substance comes close to oil when it comes to energy density, ease of handling, and flexibility.’ We need someone who says: Don’t kid yourself, coal will be around for a long, long time, as a cheap source of electricity across the globe. Someone who scoffs that anyone who believes in wind power and biofuels as a solution to the soaring demand for energy also believes in the Easter Bunny. And someone willing to argue that the most sensible long-term answer to the world’s unquenchable thirst for electricity is a revival of nuclear power, a reality that he says thinking environmentalists are coming to accept….
Bryce…fills that role with zest. 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.”
New York Times, by Fred Andrews
"Bryce's engrossing survey has two purposes. The first is to refute pessimists who claim that technology-driven economic growth will burn through the planet's resources and lead to catastrophe. "We are living in a world equipped with physical-science capabilities that stagger the imagination," he writes. "If we want to bring more people out of poverty, we must embrace [technological innovation], not reject it." The book's other purpose is to persuade climate-change fundamentalists that they are standing on the wrong side of history. Instead of saving the planet by going backward to Don Quixote's windmills, they need to take a progressive approach to technology itself, he says, striving to make nuclear power safer, for instance, and using the hydrocarbon revolution sparked by fracking and deep-offshore exploration to bridge the way to the future."
Wall Street Journal, by Arthur Herman
"Bryce delights in mocking the pessimists of the past and the present, with their anxieties over the prospects of environmental collapse and resource depletion, and deploys plenty of hard data to support his sunny view of the future. The reason for his confidence is summed up in his title. For the past two centuries, people have produced the necessities of life in far greater abundance and much higher quality because we’ve gotten so good at making things smaller, faster, lighter, denser, and cheaper."
Boston Globe, by Hiawatha Bray
"… Bryce presents neo-Malthusian catastrophists with a choice: If climate change is the result of rising global demand for energy, and we all agree that we should address climate change, then world leaders can either limit the available supplies of energy — thus denying billions of the world’s poor the security and prosperity that ample, cheap energy brings — or they can figure out a way to make energy cheaper, denser, lighter, etc.
…the other big theme of Bryce’s book: The enemies of innovation, by and large, are environmentalists who claim to be defenders of the “natural” world — so long as it does not include humanity.
…The data, which Bryce applies in heavy doses, add up to this: In almost every corner of the global economy, innovation is increasing efficiency and in the process driving up profits and creating wealth and prosperity."
National Review, by John Daniel Davidson
"Part of the fun of Bryce’s book comes from the sheer range of his examples. In one chapter, we learn how the weight of the Tour de France winner’s bicycle fell by more than half between 1903 and 2003, before the Tour stepped in and imposed minimum weight requirements for competing bicycles). In another, Bryce shows how using cell phones to transfer money in the developing world instantly raised salaries of Afghan policemen by 30 percent (due to the fact that corrupt officials could no longer skim from their paychecks before they were delivered).
…Even where Bryce’s examples are well known, he has a way of bringing them to life. Moore’s Law, which says that computing power (measured by the number of transistors on an integrated circuit) is almost a common place. Yet the implication of this trend over the course of half a century, to quote Bryce quoting Ray Kurzweil, is that a “kid in Africa with a smartphone is walking around with a trillion dollars of computation circa 1970.” Bryce is careful to acknowledge that innovation is not an unalloyed good. One of his examples of innovation in action is the AK-47. And he notes that many times innovation helps to solve one problem, only to create others (which in turn are solved by further innovations). But the overall picture that emerges is of a world made much brighter by human ingenuity."
Master Resource, by Josiah Neeley
In the face of today’s environmental and economic challenges, doomsayers preach that the only way to stave off disaster is for humans to reverse course: to de-industrialize, re-localize, ban the use of modern energy sources, and forswear prosperity. But in this provocative and optimistic rebuke to the catastrophists, Robert Bryce shows how innovation and the inexorable human desire to make things Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper is providing consumers with Cheaper and more abundant energy, Faster computing, Lighter vehicles, and myriad other goods. That same desire is fostering unprecedented prosperity, greater liberty, and yes, better environmental protection.
Utilizing on-the-ground reporting from Ottawa to Panama City and Pittsburgh to Bakersfield, Bryce shows how we have, for centuries, been pushing for Smaller Faster solutions to our problems. From the vacuum tube, mass-produced fertilizer, and the printing press to mobile phones, nanotech, and advanced drill rigs, Bryce demonstrates how cutting-edge companies and breakthrough technologies have created a world in which people are living longer, freer, healthier, lives than at any time in human history.
The push toward Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper is happening across multiple sectors. Bryce profiles innovative individuals and companies, from long-established ones like Ford and Intel to upstarts like Aquion Energy and Khan Academy. And he zeroes in on the energy industry, proving that the future belongs to the high-power-density sources that can provide the enormous quantities of energy the world demands.
The tools we need to save the planet aren’t to be found in the technologies or lifestyles of the past. Nor must we sacrifice prosperity and human progress to ensure our survival. The catastrophists have been wrong since the days of Thomas Malthus. It has never been more timely to embrace the innovators and businesses all over the world who are making things Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper.