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

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Seneca Effect: Soon to Become a Book!

"It would be some consolation for the feebleness of our selves and our works if all things should perish as slowly as they come into being; but as it is, increases are of sluggish growth, but the way to ruin is rapid." Lucius Anneaus Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, n. 91

This is very early as an announcement: don't expect this book to appear before Spring 2017 (and, BTW, the cover above is purely a fantasy of mine). However, I thought that things are advanced enough that I can announce this work in progress. I have signed a contract with Springer for publishing this book in their "Frontiers Collection" and it should appear in Spring 2017. The German edition should appear a little later, published by Oekom Verlag.

So, I have been working at full speed on this book all this summer and I can announce to you that, today - actually half an hour ago - I finished it!!! Yes, I arrived at the end of it; 97,000 words in total. I can tell you it was some work. Quite some work! And I looked at everything that I had made, and behold, it was very good!

Well, to say that the book is finished is a bit of an exaggeration: as it is, the manuscript requires a lot more refining, retouching, and rearranging. But it has taken a shape, a logic, a form - it is something that says what I wanted to say (more or less) and excludes what I didn't want to say (more or less). So, things are moving onward according to plan.

So, what will you be able to read in this book? It is a veritable smorgasbord of collapses: you'll read about the mechanics of fracture, the collapse of Egyptian pyramids, about financial collapses, famines, extinctions, the demise of the dinosaurs and - of course - about the fall of the Roman Empire, a favorite subject of mine. But the book is not just a list of collapses, it deals with the theory behind them: system dynamics, network theory, thermodynamics, entropy and more abstruse things which I am not sure I understand myself. And something about Seneca and Stoic philosophy, of course!

It is also too early for thanking anyone for having helped me with a book still in the making, but I would like to mention how my wife, Grazia, has gently supported me during a summer that was very busy and difficult for me. And we celebrated our 40th marriage anniversary just yesterday! Here she is, in a photo taken for the occasion!


  1. I am sure you either read something similar or thought about it.
    Character building and ruin also follow Seneca Effect.
    I recall a story in my language Tamil.
    The hero, oldest son, after his father's death takes care of his business, makes sure his brothers are educated and sisters got married. He builds a name in the community. Then suddenly he falls for a cheap girl and the ruin is steep and quick.

    1. I am sure that the Tamil people are as wise as any other people on this planet and they independently discovered something that the Roman Philosopher Seneca had discovered long ago

  2. Looking forward to your new work.

    However, I think that the "cliff" in your illustration is too gentle. After such a long exponential rise in growth as we've experienced over the last century, I expect the decline to be almost vertical.

  3. CONGRATS!!! I am "profondamente" looking forward to it.
    Well done for this first thorough draft, good luck for the forthcoming tweaking...
    — And happy 40th anniversary :)

  4. Dear Ugo and Grazia,
    if you have avoided the collapse of your marriage, (which is such a rare case now days) with the skill and knowledge you have been able to bring together in all kind of disciplines … you sure have the skill to prevent our society from falling down Seneca’s cliff.

  5. Well done, Ugo. I shall certainly buy a copy. Congratulations to you and Grazia.

  6. Congratulation !!
    If you are looking for a translator to French, I would like to offer my contribution. Do not hesitate to write to or call +33650327048.
    NB: I am not a professional translator, I am an engineer and economist who works in the environmental / industrial field and I have already translated several works on peak oil and collapse (e.g. David Korowicz; JM Greer, etc.)
    All the best,

  7. Ugo
    I am looking foward to reading the book.
    Your efforts over the years are much appreciated (in awe, I might add).

    Please pass my regards to your wife. We met very briefly over dinner at a long ago ASPO conference near Gubbio.

    Your recent work with Sgouridis & Casala suggests ways that might make the curve less steep, at least in some places I hope. (The Roman aqueducts mostly did not collapse and retained some value. Smile. And although it was sometime later, there was a Renaissance based on knowledge. Otherwise we would not have this Bardi among us.)

  8. Ugo:

    First things first, congratulations to you and Grazia for forty good years. May you have many, many more years of the joy from each other's company.

    Second, congratulations on finishing the book. I look forward to reading it.

    All the best.


  9. The idea of Seneca's Cliff reminds of half of Holling's Panarchy. This theory takes on what happens after the collapse and how things get ready for the next collapse. I look forward to the book.

  10. Just putting a thought out there: any chance an e-book version would be available sooner?

  11. Congratulations to Grazia and you!
    I too look forward to read your book :-)

  12. Looking forward to the book, Prof Bardi! I hope it will be available to order online for international delivery.



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)