The Energy of Nature

The Energy of Nature

The Energy of Nature

The Energy of Nature


Energy is crucial for events of every kind, in this world or any other. Without energy, nothing would ever happen. Nothing would move and there would be no life. The sun wouldn't shine, winds wouldn't blow, rivers wouldn't flow, trees wouldn't grow, birds wouldn't fly, and fish wouldn't swim; indeed no material object, living or dead, could even exist. In spite of all this, energy is seldom considered a part of what we call "nature."

In The Energy of Nature, E. C. Pielou explores energy's role in nature- how and where it originates, what it does, and what becomes of it. Drawing on a wide range of scientific disciplines, from physics, chemistry, and biology to all the earth sciences, as well as on her own lifelong experience as a naturalist, Pielou opens our eyes to the myriad ways energy and its transfer affect the earth and its inhabitants. Along the way we learn how energy is delivered to the earth from the sun; how it causes weather, winds, and tides; how it shapes the earth through mountain building and erosion; how it is captured and used by living things; how it is stored in chemical bonds; how nuclear energy is released; how it heats the unseen depths of the planet and is explosively revealed in the turmoil of earthquakes and volcanoes; how energy manifests itself in magnetism and electromagnetic waves; how we harness it to fuel human societies; and much more.

Filled with fascinating information and and helpful illustrations (hand drawn by the author), The Energy of Nature is fun, readable, and instructive. Science buffs of all ages will be delighted.

"A luminous, inquiring, and thoughtful exploration of Earth's energetics."- Jocylyn McDowell, Discovery


When Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in a lighthearted vein, “Life is so full of a number of things / I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings,” he mentioned only things and not events. This book is about events in the natural world—all kinds of events. They are as numerous and as interesting as things, and much more thought provoking. The salient point about events is that without energy they couldn’t happen. Without energy, nothing would ever happen. Energy is as indispensable an ingredient of the universe as matter is. It is extraordinary that mentioning the word “energy” makes most people envision only power stations, hydroelectric dams, the price of oil, or athletes.

I consider energy from the point of view of a naturalist. To me “natural history” consists of more than the study of mammals, birds, butterflies, trees, and flowers plus thousands of other living organisms. The subject also includes the study of weather, of rivers and lakes, the oceans, the structure of the land, and much more: everything in which movement is visible or in which you know movement . . .

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