Monday, June 3, 2013

A new report to the Club of Rome: "Plundering the Planet" by Ugo Bardi

From the site of the Club of Rome.

Launch of the new Report to the Club of Rome by Ugo Bardi in Berlin on June 6th

The Club of Rome, in partnership with WWF Germany, the Worldwatch Institute and the German Association of the Club of Rome invites to the launch of

The new Report to the Club of Rome by Ugo Bardi

Thursday, 6th June 2013, 11.30h – 13.00h
(Registration with refreshments begin at 11.00h)

 Hannoversche Straße 5b, 10115 Berlin-Mitte, Germany


Ernst-Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Co-President of the Club of Rome)
Ugo Bardi (Author of Plundering the Planet)
Eberhard Brandes (CEO of WWF Germany)
Maja Göpel (Head of the Wuppertal Institute Berlin)
Erik Assadourian (Senior Fellow of the Worldwatch Institute)
Ian Johnson (Secretary General of the Club of Rome)
Questions and answers

The number of seats is limited.
The launch will be followed by a snack lunch starting at 13.00h.

The German edition of the new Report to the Club of Rome Plundering the Planet – How to Manage the Earth’s Limited Mineral Resources will be published by the oekom Verlag 
ISBN-13: 978-3-86581-410-4, Munich, 2013


Ugo Bardi offers a fascinating inspection into the geological history of our unique planet. The inspection makes us shiver about the gigantic forces moving tectonic plates. He explains how concentrations of metals resulted from such movements. We realize that it is the high concentration of deposits that determine the availability of metals, fossil fuels and other chemical elements and compounds.

It is against this geological background that humanity has to reflect the way of dealing with the limited treasures of our Planet. In the early phases of human history, the treasures may have appeared limitless. Limited were rather the human capacities to access the treasures. One can interpret human history as the growing capacity to access the treasures – thereby steadily increasing prosperity.

After centuries of ever more successful prospecting and exploitation of mineral resources, we have come to the point where we have to restrain ourselves because, after all, resources are not infinite.

A milestone in this debate was the publication of the first Report to the Club of Rome in 1972, The Limits to Growth.  This put forward scenarios of possible development paths of humanity between 1972 and 2100. For the first time it presented a quantitative model of the path of the world’s industrial civilization as a function of the reduced availability of mineral resources.

As already stated in The Limits to Growth, we are not going to “run out” of minerals in the near future, but we are facing higher costs for extraction and exploitation. Also the amount of energy needed for a ton of pure metal is increasing as we have to rely on less highly concentrated ores. Hence, the real limits may lie in the availability of energy.

Fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) are mineral resources (of organic origin) but also represent energy resources allowing us to extract inorganic minerals. Fossil fuels have been our main source of energy for the past two centuries and have been the main factor that created the birth of the industrial revolution and the development of our present civilization.

Common sense would suggest that we start managing natural resources in a sustainable way by moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and by decoupling economic growth from resource consumption. We would do better to avoid being deceived by the current hype of shale gas, shale oil and tar sands. They may postpone the time of real scarcity by some thirty years, but at the same time, they aggravate the problem of global warming and are likely to lock us ever deeper into industrial processes, infrastructures and consumption habits that are unsustainable in the long term.

In this Report to the Club of Rome, Ugo Bardi has now taken a look at the history, present day activities and the future of mining. He takes great care to emphasize that the world will never run out of mineral resources, but it faces an increasing depletion of “cheap” oil and high grade ores, leaving us with lower grade ores, which are more expensive to extract, more damaging to the ecosystem and more polluting. I see the book as a very valid sequel to The Limits to Growth and also as a wake-up call for a new and sustainable civilization.


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)