Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Davos: some images from the World Resources Forum 2013

Some photos from the World Resources Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, Oct 6-9 2013. This set of photos has no pretense of being exhaustive, just a few snapshots that I took when I could

To start, here is yours truly (Ugo Bardi), giving his presentation on the first day of the meeting. The image is a rather famous graphic, originally made by David Murphy. You can read the details of my presentation in this post. (photo by Francesca Galeazzi)

Solitaire Townsend giving her talk. She has been incredibly brave in showing up to an audience of bespectacled and betied professionals with a talk titled "The Naked Environmentalist: how sex will save us" (!!). But her seminar turned out to be an extremely interesting discussion on the importance of social networks and on how to use advertising techniques in order to pass the message on sustainability.

One of the slides presented by Micheal Dittmar - physicist at the ETH Zurich. He is correctly very critical about how the concept of "sustainable development" - noting how, despite all the noise and the many conferences, it didn't bring to the world anything concrete.

Francesca Galeazzi giving her presentation. She works at ARUP in Shanghai, and her talk was about the quantification of the advantages of sustainable buildings. It is a difficult subject in China where, apparently, the need of sustainable buildings is still not well understood.

Rolf Widmer, ETH Zurich, leading a seminar on automotive recycling. 

One of the results of the discussion at the panel chaired by Rolf Widmer. It is not easy to recycle old cars - but we tried to find ways. 

Scientific meetings often offer prizes for the best papers - they don't usually pay attention to the worst ones. However, if there is a best paper, there has to be the worst one. About the World Resource Forum in Davos 2013, I propose as a purely personal nomination this poster for the worst paper not just of this meeting but perhaps in absolute terms, the worst paper I've ever seen. 

One of the several panel discussions at the meeting. Yours truly is participating in this one.

To conclude, what would a conference be without a conference dinner? Here it is!


  1. Nah Ugo,

    what a conference like this wil look like in 40 years from now? I.e. in 2052-3?

    If I am lucky, I will be 72-3 years old. What will I do? I don't know :-)


    1. Well, there will be a "peak meetings". Maybe it is already passed

  2. I'm intrigued by Solitaire Townsend's talk. For years the big issue around resource depletion, the environment, and the future of mankind (or lack thereof) to me has been the inability to engage a majority or even a respectable minority of the population to care about these issues.

    A rational person would instantly embrace the facts concerning limits to growth, population, and resource issues. A rational person won't deny truth and the obvious conclusion here is that humans are actually not rational creatures. Digging deeper into human psychology and the mechanics of deception sadly informs me that without the proper education this is indeed the reality.

    Sadly mostly humans are not rational creatures but think they are. Advertising and politicians who embrace advertising techniques (all of them) and other forms of dastardly deception do extremely well in brainwashing the public into believing that the future of mankind is full of bright promises and plenty for all. A cornucopian dream of infinite growth. Bunnies hopping through green fields and all that stuff.

    We know this is not true but seem powerless to resist the tools of manipulation employed to keep the public in an infinite growth mindset. I'm not advocating we sink to their level but if there was more information on how they manipulate and if we used the same techniques to advance our agenda but stopping short of deception we would all be a lot better off.

    I've found a used book 'The Age of Manipulation' by Wilson Bryan Key that I'm using to educate myself. I think it is pretty good and it only cost me twenty five cents plus shipping. If Mr. key was still alive I believe he would be one of us and actively involved in the resource depletion community.

    Could you please elaborate a little on her presentation?

    1. Yes, I am planning to write a post on Solitaire Townsend's presentation. As I say, it was intriguing and full of insight. Solitaire's idea is, somehow to "virtualize" the tokens that determine the human pecking order (and which determine,by the way, who mates with whom - hence the "sex" in the presentation). Right now, you are supposed to be a successful male if you have a big car, a big house, and plenty of stuff in general. But, with the advent of social media, your worth is measured more by the number of "likes" you receive. And those likes don't destroy the environment.

      As I said, it is an intriguing idea, although I am not sure about its actual relevance in the ongoing debate - but it is worth considering.

    2. BTW, Solitaire Townsend has made a visually stunning impact with her red "SEX" key image. You can see her also here:

  3. Sorry to leave empty comments for you to clean up. I wish I'd detect all my typos before I published. I try. Go ahead and delete this with the two blank ones.

    Again sorry for the mess.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ugo, it was wonderful having you with us. I have sent your comments on the poster to our Scientific Committee chair, prof. Christian Ludwig. WRF aims to be a low-threshold platform for sharing views and insights ... We will in any way consider sending a marmot ...

    k-dog: Solitaire's underlying paper on the Naked Environmentalist is to be downloaded from her Futerra website. Link provided on our website.

    1. Thanks, Bas, it was a pleasure for me to be there, too. Could you provide a link for solitaire's presentation? I couldn't find it in your site.

    2. OK. No need, I found it;

    3. Thanks, I'm reading it now.



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)