John Scales Avery

John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist at the University of Copenhagen. He is noted for his books and research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. His 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution set forth the view that the phenomenon of life, including its origin, evolution, as well as human cultural evolution, has its background situated in the fields of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Since 1990 he has been the Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Between 2004 and 2015 he also served as Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy. He founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and was for many years its Managing Editor. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988-1997).


A complete list of books is given at the end of this section. Find below the description of some of the books authored by John Scales Avery.

Ethics and Evolution

In his latest book, John Scales Avery discusses evolution, artificial life, religious opposition to evolution, horrors linked to social Darwinism, the need for human solidarity and more. Read it here.

Climate Change, Population Growth and Famine

Unless efforts are made to stabilize and ultimately reduce global population, there is a serious threat that climate change, population growth, and the end of the fossil fuel era could combine to produce a large-scale famine by the middle of the 21st century. Read it here.

Nuclear Weapons: An Absolute Evil

This book is a collection of articles and book chapters that John Scales Avery has written advocating the abolition of nuclear weapons. Some new material has also been added, for example a discussion of the Nuclear Weapons Convention which has recently been adopted by an overwhelming majority vote at the United Nations General Assembly. Read it here.

The Climate Emergency: Two Time Scales

In his latest book, John Scales Avery argues why is climate change an emergency and why quick change is needed to save the long-term future. Read it here.

Languages and Classification

John Scales Avery explains languages and their classification in his recent book. Read it here.

Space-Age Science and Stone-Age Politics

Looking beneath the surface of today’s news stories, we can discern an explosive mixture – Space Space-Age-Science-and-Stone-Age-Politicsage science and stone age politics. This book discusses the tensions created by the rapid rate of scientific and technological change, contrasted with the slow rate of change of our political institutions. Because of the enourmous destructive power of modern weapons, and because of today’s instantaneous global communication, the institution of war has become a dangerous anachronism, and indeed the absolutely-sovereign nation-state has also become an anachronism. “Space-Age Science and Stone-Age Politics” discusses the steps we must take to harmonize our social and political institutions witht the constantly accelerating achievements of science and technology.

Read it here in English and here in Urdu. Shop it here.

CRISIS 21: Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century

This book describes the links between the serious problems that are facing the world today – threats to the environment, growing population coupled with vanishing resources, intolerable economic inequality and the threat of nuclear war – and it proposes holistic solutions.

Read it here. Shop it here.

We Need Their Voices Today!

This book is a collection of biographical sketches showing people whose wise voices from the past can help to guide us today. All of the women and men, brief glimpses of whose lives and ideas are portrayed here, gave a high place to compassion. None of them was a slave to greed. We need their voices today!  Read it here.


Progress, Poverty and Population: Re-reading Condorcet, Godwin and Malthus

This work traces the history of a debate which took place among the economists, political philosophers and writers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, about whether the benefits of scientific progress would be nullified by the growth of the global population.

Shop it here.

The Need for a New Economic System

It is clear that our present economic system is unsustainable. Never-ending exponential industrial growth on a finite planet is a logical absurdity. We are already using resources at a rate which it would take 1.6 planet earths to replace. We are already undermining the ecological systems which support all of life. Our present economic system has led to an unbelievable degree of economic inequality. To maintain this inequality, both between nations and within nations, military force is used, and democracy is replaced by oligarchy. The future of human civilization is endangered both by the threat of thermonuclear war and by the threat of catastrophic climate change; and both of the twin threats are results of our present economic system. This book documents in detail the serious economic problems of today’s world, and it also proposes sustainable solutions.

Read it here, and shop it here. Also, read a review on this book by Dr. Dorothy Guyot here.

Calculus and Differential Equations

This book describes the history of calculus and differential equations, and provides a set of worked problems for the reader interested in learning these subjects.

Shop it here (Paperback) and here (eBook).

Information Theory and Evolution

Information-theory-and-evolution-coverThis highly interdisciplinary book discusses the phenomenon of life, including its origin and evolution (and also human cultural evolution), against the background of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Among the central themes is the seeming contradiction between the second law of thermodynamics and the high degree of order and complexity produced by living systems. This paradox has its resolution in the information content of the Gibbs free energy that enters the biosphere from outside sources, as the author shows. The role of information in human cultural evolution is another focus of the book. One of the final chapters discusses the merging of information technology and biotechnology into a new discipline — bio-information technology.

Shop it here.

Civilization’s Crisis: A Set of Linked Challenges

Modern civilization faces a broad spectrum of daunting problems, but rational solutions are available for them all. This book explores the following issues: (1) Threats to the environment and climate change; (2) a growing population and vanishing resources; (3) the global food and refugee crisis; (4) intolerable economic inequality; (5) the threat of nuclear war; (6) the military-industrial complex; and (7) limits to growth. These problems are closely interlinked, and their possible solutions are discussed in this book.

Read chapter one here. Shop it here.

Energy, Climate Change and Global Food Security

The proceedings of a symposium discussing future food shortages that may be produced by rising energy prices, climate change and population growth.

Shop it here (Paperback) and here (eBook).

Science and Society

Science-and-society-coverThe latest advancements and discoveries in science have made, and continue to make, a huge impact on our lives. This book is a history of the social impact of science and technology from the beginnings of civilization up to the present. The book explains how the key inventions: agriculture, writing and printing with movable type, initiated an explosive growth of knowledge and human power over the environment. It also shows how the Industrial Revolution changed the relationship between humans and nature, and initiated a massive use of fossil fuels. Problems related to nuclear power, nuclear weapons, genetic engineering, information technology, exhaustion of non-renewable resources, use of fossil fuels and climate change are examined in the later chapters of the book. Finally, the need for ethical maturity to match our scientific progress is discussed.

Read it here. Shop enlarged and updated version published by World Scientific here and here.

Memories of Beirut and Tehran

This book is a collection of photos and descriptions documenting the period from 1926 to 1950 when my family spent many years in the Middle East. We were impressed with the high culture and enormous hospitality of the people whom we met, both in Beirut and in Tehran. Read it here.

Collected Essays (I, II, III, IV)

This book contains a collection of essays and articles by John Scales Avery discussing the severe problems and challenges which the world faces during the 21st century. Human civilization and the biosphere are threatened by catastrophic climate change. Unless rapid steps are taken to replace fossil fuels by 100% renewable energy, we risk passing a tipping point beyond which uncontrollable feedback loops could produce a 6th extinction event cmparable to those observed in the geological record.

Another serious threat to human civilization and the biosphere is the danger of a catastrophic thermonuclear war. Over a long period of time there is an ever-increasing risk that such a war will occur by accident or miscalculation.

Thirdly, there is threat of an extremely serious and widespread famine, produced by the climate change, rapidly-growing populations, and the end of the fossil fuel era. We must urgently address all three challenges.

Shop Volume I here, Volume II here, Volume III here, and Volume IV here.

Read Volume I here, Volume II here, Volume III here, and Volume IV here.

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