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

Friday, June 7, 2013

"Plundering the planet" in pills

The Berlin presentation of the new report for the Club of Rome, "Plundering the Planet" seems to have gone well and there is a lot of interest in the new book, at least for those who can read it in German! At present, I am giving interviews to the German media (in English!) and I am developing a certain "sense" for what journalists find useful for their reports. I found that  you have to condense in single statements concepts that take entire chapters to be developed in the book. So, here is a selection of these statements; it is "Plundering the Planet" in pills.

- Debating about the amount of mineral reserves left is like balancing your checkbook while stranded on a desert island.

- So far, we have been thinking of mineral reserves as of soldiers lined up for battle: the more of them, the better. Saddam Hussein was thinking the same when he invaded Kuwait. 

- Everybody knows that higher prices create more resources. Marie Antoinette was saying the same thing about bread and cake.

- The market can make extraction profitable, it cannot make it cheap.

- Thinking that new technologies can create mineral resources is like thinking that you can make pizza without flour, an innovative GMO yeast is enough. 

- The cheapest extractive technology is the one you don't need to use.

- Drilling more is useless (the more you drill, the faster you deplete the resource), drilling deeper is no good (mineral deposits exists only near the surface), drilling the seafloor is a bad idea (most of it is geologically too young to have mineral deposits), drilling asteroids is silly (too expensive; besides, asteroids have no mineral deposits). Ah..... also printing more money doesn't help.

- Pollution is just another cost of mineral production; but one that will be paid by someone else.

- Some people say that running out of oil will save us from global warming. Perhaps. And perhaps running out of money will save you from your addiction to crack. More likely, though, you'll start getting your highs by sniffing cheap glue.

- Debating about the "energy transition" is like debating about getting old. The problem is that you don't have a choice.

- The energy transition is not just a good idea, it is the consequence of the laws of physics.

- We'll either manage the transition, or we'll be managed by the transition.

- Give fossil fuel to a man and he will have energy for one day. Teach a man how to make renewable energy and he will have energy forever

- Prediction is always difficult, especially when it has to do with the future. But if the future cannot be predicted, at least we can be prepared for it.


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)