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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Colin Campbell on Peak Oil


  1. That oil discovery vs production chart is the really sobering one. For all the announcements of new oil fields, and wishful thinking of some Americans regarding their supposed wealth of resources (if only that nasty Obama would let them be exploited), the physical reality is completely implacable - oil discovery inexorably declines and therefore oil production must inevitably follow. Modern industrial society is built on growth, and growth is built on abundant cheap energy, so unless someone comes up with a miracle, we're looking at very radical changes to global civilisation, very soon. We're going to have to get used to living with a lot less energy, as Richard Heinberg says. Not easy in a world of 7 billion people, half of whom live in cities - almost the definition of unsustainability.

  2. Interesting that Colin mentions the "recent"(announced as such) discovery in ireland (forgot the name) as a field known for a long time but not deemed economicaly viable up to now.

  3. Hello Ugo, how about this:

    "We’re already past the point of dangerous [manmade] interference with the climate system — not approaching it — past it,” said Jeffrey Sachs, an economist who directs Columbia’s Earth Institute." -

    Another Cassandra in the Club (of Rome)?

  4. Thank you for posting this lecture.
    Campbell has lots of interesting ideas.
    Shrinking the moneysupply in the same manner that the energysupply is shrinking.
    Set up local markets and local currencies.

    And please stop the federalists in their attempts to make one big empire out of Europe.

  5. Hello Ugo,

    have you published your global energy+GDP outlook baded on Lotka-Volterra model somwhere? (Bardi and Yaxley), I found this graf only with the notation "to be published" and I would like to use use it in my paper. Many thanks,


  6. Hi, Alex.... no, we didn't publish it. Too many things to do. We would like to return on this subject, but Leigh (Yaxley) is now too busy. He can work on these things only in feverish and occasional bursts and I was waiting for the next one! I have been waiting for a long time, though. But, I do plan to return on these data. What kind of paper are you publishing? Could we collaborate on this matter?

    1. Thanks Ugo,

      I will use it as it is (cite as a conference presentation). I will give a presentation for local authorities on peak oil - coupled with the educational text - this is a referenced paper based on the small project of one NGO in Slovakia. At this time I am too bussy to publish a serious IF paper on resource depletion - however we might try to do something in the near future,



  7. In the very interesting and informative (and also encouraging) video above, I think Colin Campbell is being more than a little bit kind and magnanimous (perhaps one could call it being “diplomatic”) towards the IMF. (and those who are interested can go directly to minute 25 of his presentation to hear his comments about the recent IMF Working Paper.
    What that paper does is give “equal weight” and “take the average” between the “economic/technological” approach (based on mainstream supply and demand economic theories) used by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the so called “geological view” (based on physical realities in the ground) used by Colin Powell and ASPO ….to determine the impact of oil limits on the future of the global economy.
    Although mainstream supply and demand economic theories worked reasonably well during the earlier historical period when there was ample physical supply of oil available to meet increasing but relatively smaller demand, they make wrong predictions now, once physical supply becomes ever more scarce and demand ever greater, if GDP growth projection figures are to be believed. So to argue that “those theories worked well in the past” and so can still work now and in the future is simply wrong. What works under certain conditions doesn’t necessarily work under different ones. Basically to make the point more simply (perhaps too simply) “supply” cannot rise to meet higher demand once there is simply no oil (or much less oil) left in the ground.
    And although one could interpret the IMF’s change of view as “making progress” one also could view it as a gigantic fudge (or a gigantic political favor to those in whose interest it is, that “business as usual” continues to be seen as being able to go on indefinitely)….i.e. a monumental fudge of adding or combining something wrong with something right to presumably get something “half right”. If the IMF weren’t the premiere economic institution in the world which it is, this perhaps could be forgiven but given its central role in the modern –day version of neoliberal capitalism……. being “half right” –in my view- just doesn’t cut it.
    And a pretty good article about the IMF Working Paper as well as a link to the paper itself….(for those who have the patience to go through loads of fundamentally meaningless equations) can be found on:
    But probably Colin Campbell is right and reasonable in being “magnanimous” and its good that at least the IMF seems to have taken a small detour from one of its many journeys in Alice in Wonderland and the related “prescriptions”.
    Colin Campbell also mentions a much more meaningful innovation by the government of Portugal to come up with an Oil Depletion Protocol suggesting that Ireland could adopt something similar. These seem like excellent ideas and measures that countries can adopt immediately. But would countries like the United States and China ever adopt anything similar? Even though in fact all it would take for the U.S. to avoid an otherwise ever more likely economic crash once that shale and fracking everything in sight business is finally exposed for the propaganda that it is, would be to eliminate energy waste (which must account for at least 30% of its oil use, if not more)
    So although things look bleak there ARE things that can be done. All that has to happen is various folks to actually do them.

  8. I hope readers and Colin Campbell both will forgive me for mis-writing his name in the body of my entry above, and calling him Colin Powell. My brain must have somehow gotten scrambled regarding presentations dealing with truth and reality to those publicly spouting dangerous lies and propaganda ...and without my even realizing it !

  9. ....but now I see that maybe I wasn't the only one to get Campbell confused with Powell since at the top of the video screen itself it says "Dr. Colin Powell New Energy Forum". A more recent performance that Colin Powell (whatever he may be doing now) definitely can be proud of !

  10. Re: Alexander Ac' s comment above: At the link below is what Jeffrey Sachs said recently about Climate Change in a Bloomberg interview on August 6th: 1) The scientific debate about whether climate change is happening or not has been over for some time; 2) the political "debate" and its array of distortions / misrepresentations continues 3) There are already 10 to 15 time more climate events which are 3 standard deviations from the norm (i.e from a less than 1% chance of occurring) this represents an observable over one order of magnitude of difference in extreme climate events. Neither Obama or Romney have mentioned climate change during their campaigns and it was not discussed during the presidential debates. Draw your own conclusions about where we are heading. And the common cliche which says "things will have to get a lot worse before they will get any better" is unfortunately also a complete contradiction. (once they get a lot worse it will be nearly impossible to reverse course)



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)