Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Fall of Empires Explained in 10 Minutes


This is the presentation I gave to the meeting for the 50th anniversary of the Club of Rome on Oct 18th in Rome. The gist of the idea is that the fall of ancient civilizations, such as the Roman Empire, can be described with the same models developed in the 1970 to describe the future of our civilization. States, empires, and entire civilizations tend to fall under the combined effect of resource depletion and growing pollution. In the end, they are destroyed by what I call the Seneca Effect.

You can find the paper I mention in the talk, coauthored by Ilaria Perissi and Sara Falsini, at this link.

14 comments:

  1. Thank you, Dr. Bardi

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  2. Very nice to see you in action, Prof Bardi!

    I would say, however, that we are already in flight, way past the cliff-edge.....

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    1. Yes, like Thelma and Louise....

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    2. I am ignoring for now the Thelma and Louise quip (trust you are thankful for that) Having looked and read, are there any legs to the conjecture that society is in fact better off to intensify complexity with respect to bureaucracy.(perhaps beyond certain current psychological constraints) By this I mean higher resolution targeting, differentiation and discrimination of values, by some means, rather than trying to fruitlessly wind back bureaucracy. The effort to refine bureaucracy may assist outcomes?

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    3. Well, yes, all that should be taken into account. But we aggregated everything into a stock using Tainter's definition for it, "Bureaucracy" -- probably it would be better defined using the Motessharray definition, "non producing capital."

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  3. The Fall of Western Rome Empire happened for the barbarian invasion so it is a good metaphore for what it will happen in italian penisula because of african demographic bomb, but the fall of western Rome empire is a bad synthesis for what it will happen on Earth on XXI century. Instead the collapse of Easter Island is a perfect metaphore for the things to come on Earth.

    I'm sorry, I don't agree with the historic meaning of the sample.

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    1. Easter Island society collapsed because of disease introduced by the first contact with European explorers.
      That is well understood and documented

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    2. @norman pagett
      No! the collapsing society of easter island happened before the contact with european explorers

      https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isola_di_Pasqua#La_storia_dell'isola
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Island#Discussion

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  4. Thank you again, Dr. Bardi, for your work--and the work of your dedicated students/colleagues.

    Diminishing returns on complexity, the idea of infinite growth on finite planet, overpopulation, dire climate change projections, and "Mad Emporer Syndrome" will be the undoing of a large number of us, it's clear.

    As a mother I am, of course, frightened for my children--and the future of all children.

    I hope the coming re-balancing and correction is not as stark as the scientific projections suggest, but I hold no illusions. The Senecca Effect is alive and well...and coming to a neighborhood near us all soon.

    With warmest regards and respect to you and your team,

    Cindy

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  5. I apologize for misspelling "Seneca Effect! "

    --Cindy

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    1. Well, those of us who have children are indeed very worried. But we shouldn't give up. The first step to solving a problem is to understand it!

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    2. We will fight until the end, Dr. Bardi.

      We spread the word, eat little meat and own no vehicles (which, in the state of Texas with four children, often feels Sysiphean, you can imagine!)

      Of course we realize these efforts amount to less than an ant's worth of effect, but we try.

      Warmest regards to you again, Dr. Bardi!

      --Cindy

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  6. Dottore Bardi,
    Le vostre spiegazioni sono molto interessanti e molto rilevante. Confesso di non aver letto i Suoi libri ma ho letto alcuni dei Vostri articoli.

    Capisco che la crescita può essere molto più lenta del collasso ma quando vedo le piramidi degli egiziani, ad esempio, che sono state costruite in pochi secoli e millenni dopo che sono ancora lì, è che il il collasso non è sempre più veloce che la crescita, ma forse mi manca una Sua lettura.

    Il collasso è certamente veloce se le basi o i fondamenti non sono abbastanza forti.
    Quindi oggi nella nostra civiltà, non stiamo più costruendo con basi solide ? L'essere umano non sa più quali sono le basi solide ? Il fatto di voler'andare sempre più veloce ci fa dimenticare i fondamenti?

    Sarei molto interessato a ricevere una Vostra risposta, perché ancora una volta, non ho letto i Vostri libri e forse le risposte ci sono.

    Grazie mille e a presto.
    Dario Bello

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    1. Beh, ci sono molte domande e forse meno risposte. Facciamo il possibile per capire come si evolvono le cose, ma non è facile. Comunque, l'anno prossimo dovrebbe uscire un mio nuovo libro sull'effetto Seneca - meno costoso del primo - e forse qualche risposta ce la potrai trovare. Saluti e grazie per l'interesse

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Who

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014). His most recent book is "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017)