Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why Cassandra's task is hopeless

Sometimes you stumble into something that needs no comments; except to note that Cassandra's task, really, is hopeless.

In Mackerel's Plunder, Hints of Epic Fish Collapse


25 January 2012

TALCAHUANO, Chile – Eric Pineda, a dock agent in this old port south of Santiago, peered deep into the Achernar’s hold at a measly 10 tons of jack mackerel — the catch after four days in waters once so rich they filled the 17-meter fishing boat in a few hours.

Mr. Pineda, like everyone here, grew up with the bony, bronze-hued fish they call jurel, which roams in schools in the southern Pacific.

It’s going fast,” he said as he looked at the 57-foot boat. “We’ve got to fish harder before it’s all gone.” Asked what he would leave his son, he shrugged: “He’ll have to find something else.” 

From the New York Times - h/t The Oil Drum


  1. It has been registered a 40% drop in 2011 fishing in adriatic sea compared to 2010 : nevertless Marche distric bureau and other public offices still hold debate about supporting fishermen and local boats companies : it is urgent to dismantle at least an half of socialdemocratic public apparate and invest in sustanaible agriculture and energy. Francesco Ganz etti

  2. You should ask what he will leave for HIMSELF tomorrow. And if he answers "I will have to find something else" try to lead the conclusion to "you have to do it now".

    But you are right, probably it is hopeless.

  3. Just 40 years ago my lab was called "Fishery research institute". No longer. Since about 20 years ago it is "Institute of Marine Sciences". The oldest researches working on fisheries tell you stories about the ictiofauna that used to crowd the Mediterranean, the memory of a vast majority of it being lost for many of us. Spanish and French fishermen are still trying to finish the job and finally exterminate red tuna fish in the Mediterranean. FAO alerts that if we continue at this rhythm we would exterminate all fisheries all over the world in 20 to 40 years.

    So that, maybe peak oil, or peak net energy, is a blessing after all. At least for the planet: we won't go ahead with out ecocidal plan of mass extinctions.


  4. “We’ve got to fish harder before it’s all gone.”

    yep, that will really help. tragedy of the commons illustrated in one short sentence

  5. About fishes and stocks really quite frightening explanations of Daniel Pauly, where he explains in particular that it is more avout exploiting a ressource like a non renewable one with 3 dimensions of expension :
    - geographical going further and further
    - fish sizes, taking smaller and smaller ones
    - species dimension, in particular fishing deeper and deeper

    In English :

    In french :

  6. You know that telling: "Our ancestors did not care about us. Why should we care about our children?"

    Or, to say otherwise: "There is never a future, there is only a present." (And we might add that there is never a history, since we have learned nothing from history).

    Who really want Cassandras?


    1. You say so probably because you don't have children.

  7. Well, and little bit of black humor should we mentioned here from Methane: a worse worst-case scenario:

    The Amazon and the boreal forest burns; massive anoxic events spread across the oceans; billions fight over the last scraps of habitable land even as plummeting agricultural yields kill billions by starvation. The living envy the dead.

  8. You are right Ugo.

    People simply don't want to listen, they are not psycologically ready to accept Truth. They prefer to live in a blind collective "delusion" until the End arrives... That seems to be average Human nature to me.

    Being aware of its "hopleless" task and even so still willing to continue "fighting" makes Cassandra's task even more brave and heroic in terms of greek tragedy.

    At least a few ones of us acknowledge and appreciate this strange Beauty.

    Thanks and regards

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I made too many typos.
      I try again below.
      Here is an interesting variation on the theme.
      A little bit of action might just help.
      Farmed salmon in Chile are an interesting case. Salmon were a Northern ocean species. The imported stocks bring their own diseases. Like all salmonids and other farmed species like catfish, they are obligate carnivores and consume more fish protein than they can grow, by factors of 2 to 4. They were first marketed in the UK (and elsewhere?) in a tartan wrapper like Scottish whisky. (Herbivore fish as adjuncts to Asian farming are something else.)

      In the longer term though I fear the acidic layers of the stratified ocean as the CO2 levels climb.
      [BTW it is just possible that CO2 sequestration might be made more energetically efficient and not require the burning of ever more fossil fuel to achieve the sequestration cycle. I have an old friend whose team might have discovered some interesting chemistry to do that. I only just looked at his webpage for the first time a few minutes ago! Last entry 4. on his page at]

      Best Hopes as they say!



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)