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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bicentennial of Napoleon's retreat from Russia

Two hundred years ago, on Dec 14 1812, the last French soldiers left Russia after a disastrous retreat from Moscow in freezing weather. Napoleon had marched into Russia with nearly half a million soldiers; only about 100,000 or perhaps just 25,000, returned.

In a way, Napoleon had been defeated becouse he underestimated the power of climate on human activities. More than that, however, it was a disaster caused by human stupidity, greed, and ignorance.

Unfortunately, in two hundred years, it doesn't seem that we have learned much from our mistakes. It doesn't bid well for our future.


  1. Hi Ugo,

    "Napoleon had been defeated by not understanding climate" - or weather, you might say ;-)

    and on Dec. 13. 1937, we had this terrible Nanjing Massacre - where japanese soldiers killed and raped 300 000 Chinese people... and it was "a disaster caused by human stupidity, greed, and ignorance."


  2. Wasn't it the lice that got his army ultimately? Typhus and trench fever led to the decimation of his troops once he reached Poland.

  3. It seems fair to observe that Russia's successful resistance of invasions by two West European despots was due in very large part to General Winter.

    It ought to be causing Kremlin military strategists to be voicing major concerns over US prevarication on AGW, in that if, or when, a third such despot arises and again mounts an invasion, General Winter could be in a greatly weakened condition, if he shows up at all. Tolerating AGW is massively weakening Russia's fundamental defensive capacity.



  4. I doubt they have to worry. the climate change effects on the West is going to prevent them from any military adventures outside their own borders in the future. And Russia will benefit from warmer summers and less cold winter with a better growing season as Europe and the US dry up.



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)