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

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Seneca Glass: Half Full or Half Empty?

Optimist: the glass is half full.

Pessimist: the glass is half empty.

Catastrophist. It will not be half full for long.

Cornucopian: We are running into water rather than out of it.

Oil executive: The more we drink, the more the water level grows.

Conspiracy Theorist: Water? What water? THEY want us to believe that there is water in the glass.

Chemtrail believer: Don't look at the water! Look up at the sky! Don't you see THEY are poisoning us?

Climate Science Denier: Scientists cannot predict the weather one week in advance, how can they say if the glass is full or empty?

Bad Pun Lover: A fish was swimming in the glass. It swam into the wall and said, "Damn!"

Thomas Malthus: You can only fill the glass at a linear rate, but people will drink from it at exponentially rising rates.

Harold Hotelling: When there will be no more water in it, we'll use beer as a backstop resource.

Robert Solow: the amount of water in the glass will keep growing exponentially.

Neoclassical Economist: when the water level will be low enough, market forces will create more.

Julian Simon: there is enough water in the glass to last for six billion years.

Colin Campbell: After you drink the water in the glass, there will be none left.

Charles Hall: the water return on energy invested (WROEI) declines as you drink it.

Gail Tverberg: Water is not really a renewable resource: you will always need fossil fuels to pump it into the glass.

Guy McPherson: All the water will have disappeared from planet Earth by 2030.

Donald Trump: We need to build a wall to keep the Mexicans from drinking our water.

Matsuo Basho: The old glass. A frog jumps into it. The noise of water.

William Shakespeare: The empty part of the glass is filled with the stuff dreams are made of.

Erwin Schroedinger: The glass is neither half full nor half empty - until you drink from it.

Jesus Christ: Have faith and walk on the stones, just like I do.

Lao Zi: A glass of a thousand gallons is filled starting with just one drop.

Buddha: The water is an illusion, just like the glass. And the drinker, too.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca: It takes a long time to fill the glass, but emptying it is rapid.



  1. The One Percent: Since the 99 percent owe me all their money plus some, all the water in the glass belongs to ME! The 99 percent can share the air.

  2. HA! I get it. Jesus didn't actually walk on water. There were stones there the whole time, and he was just tricking us into believing that he was walking on water, and really when he told Peter to have faith and that Peter could walk on water too, he was just being a mean miserable SOB, playing a dirty prank that could have killed his friend.

    But that's cool. I mean, I get it. And now, having attacked the validity of some of what one religion says, I see where you also attack the validity of what other religions say too, in the name of humor, religions like I don't know, Taoism and Buddhism, as an example. Yep. I totally see what you did there. Thumbs up.

  3. Nigel Farage: The glass is half empty because the EU have been sipping our water.
    Boris Johnson: After Brexit the glass will contain four times as much water.
    Jacob Rees-Mogg: We must take back control of our water. But I have got another glass of water in Dublin just in case.
    EU: Its because of us there was water in the glass in the first place.

    1. Leavers:
      - We can have our glass of water and drink it as well.
      - There's loads of water in the pacific, we don't need this glass.

  4. DJT: the water will be great again, I will press down on it and it will be overflowing.

  5. You missed one. "The glass is always full."

  6. Mainstream Media: The Russians tweaking us on Facebook is much more important than water.

    Central Banks: Don't worry, we'll print more water.

    Mind Over Reality Transition Theory: Almost everyone denies we are running out of water, but if proven wrong almost everyone will deny that they need water to survive, but if proven wrong almost everyone will deny their own mortality with life after death in heaven.

  7. En el Titanic, había mucha agua,..el problema es que no había salvavidas para todos.

  8. I am glad that Basho's classic haiku appears in this great hilarious post.

  9. Hollywood classic hostile alien: people of Earth planet have water and they are edible! so what is good for the goose is good for the gander, lets eat 'em all!

    From a distant star, Two friendly silent aliens: mankind have one entangled glass, then what? Well, lets wait and see.

    Ezezel an alien silent observer from the near alien base in Mars: because mankind will never ever reach in the XXI mankind's century the FIRST TYPE CIVILIZATION in KARDASHEV SCALE, then they will make as usual at least a couple of new WARS.

  10. And the accauntat said: We bought a glass two timew biger that what we need.

  11. Zeno: The glass will never be empty, no matter how much you drink. Okay, you already drank half the water in the glass. But next, you drink half of the remainder, leaving the other half of that remainder… which you must drink next. And so on… unless Achilles happens by and drinks what's left in a gulp.

    Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra: Una golondrina sola orinó en el vaso, así que nadie quiere tomar el agua del vaso.

  12. Noah: do not worry about the empty glass, the flood is coming.

    God the Almighty: let it divide the waters from the waters.

    Jonah: I don't see any whale inside the half-full glass

  13. Ugo Bardi: »It doesn't matter, if the glass is half full or half empty. In fact, we are totally doomed.«

  14. Terry Pratchett: “What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass! Who's been pinching my beer?”

  15. Heisenberg: "If how much water is in the glass then you can't know how fast it is filling 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)