*Enriching the Earth*

The author is Vaclav Smil and the subtitle is Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production, excerpt:

…the single most important change affecting the world’s population — its expansion from 1.6 billion people in 1900 to today’s 6 billion — would not have been possible without the synthesis of ammonia.

…All the children to be seen running around or leading docile water buffaloes in China’s southern provinces, throughout the Nile Delta, or in the manicured landscapes of Java got their body proteins, via urea their parents spread on bunded fields, from the Haber-Bosch synthesis of ammonia.

Another wondrous discovery from late 19th century/turn of the century Germany, though on the other side of the balance Haber played a critical role in inventing the German poison gases used in World War I.  Have I mentioned that Vaclav Smil is one of the most important thinkers/writers today, in any field?  It is worth reading all of his books, and there are not many people (with many books that is!) you can say that about.

By the way, many people think that Clara Immerwahr (Fritz Haber’s first wife, and the first female PhD at the University of Breslau) looks like Taylor Swift:


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