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

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Future as Seen by the Doomers. It Will be the Seneca Rebound!

Recently, RE (Reverse Engineer) of the famed "Doomsday Diner" carried out an opinion poll among the people frequenting some of the most doomeristic/catastrophistic/millennialistic sites of the Web (including Ugo Bardi's blog, Cassandra's Legacy).

Refreshingly, a majority of the members of this group of hard-liners are in favor of renewable energy! Only 36% of the group think that renewable energy is useless, while 57% think it will power a sustainable technological civilization.

So, maybe you are one of those people who feel it is their duty to pester the discussions on this subject with your favorite statement that goes as "renewable energy plants are built using energy coming from fossil fuels, therefore will never be anything but fossil fuel extenders." Then, know that not only you are wrong, you also understood nothing of the concept of EROI, and, finally, you are also a minority even among the minority of the millennialists of the Web.

Yes, the transition will not be easy, but renewable energy is the future of humankind. It is the Seneca Rebound, baby!


  1. There are any number of possible outcomes, and we have it within our (humankind's) power to direct the future we desire, if we can rise above greed, materialism, and lusts for power. In other words, can we overcome our innate wiring(1) to rise above the collective equivalent intellectual level of yeast to attain an advanced philosophical level that has been heretofore outpaced by our technological advancements(2)?

    1. Nate Hagens, "Fleeing Vesuvius: The psychological roots of resource over-consumption", The Oil Drum, 2001
    2. Alvin and Heidi Toffler, "Future Shock", Random House, 1970

  2. Key words are "smaller global population". Jack Alpert has shown that 100 million people (but not more) can live in an advanced technology civilization using renewable energy (hydro but not solar and wind).

    The survey question is too vague to provide useful conclusions.

    angry birds 2 mod apk

    1. The above is clearly spam, but it seemed to be strangely appropriate

  4. Before rebound we must solve the economic puzzle, Seneca cliff of industrial economy that is near. Read this sobering commentary from Professor Malinen:

  5. The only renewable is wood, wood in a managed continuous forest management.

    Hydro has destroyed entire, once superaboundant,species that where central to human beings like and ecosystems alike (phosphore cyclming upstream. Salmon, sea trout, european sturgeon (used to feed chicken in pre industrial france...), eel.

    Not talking about solar which is a complete loss of material, unsustainable, when one think that a tree does the same spontaneously: you plant a seed and you get tons of carbon fuel doing nothing at all, just waiting !

    Windmill on a small scale... why not. Old technique that has been used for centuries....

    Demography is the central problem if we want to live on as an intelligent species in the future.

    Think about it. Caviar in Romania at the beginning of last century was cheaper than bread. Now Romanian have electricity because they have dammed all their large rivers. But they have to eat shit industrial chicken that tastes like urine, instead of protein and healthy fat rich fish eggs.

    This is call progress, and i am affraid renewable can lead us much further down this infamous road.

  6. Well this would be great news if energy were the problem.

    The problem is industrial civilization is destroying the planets biosphere that provides the habitat required for life to exist. Green, brown, black, whatever color the "new deal" is it is still industrial and destroys the environment.

    The only way to not destroy the planet is to stop doing what we are doing and live with nature as if it matters. I am doing it and so far there is not another human I know who wants to join me. Most say that if they can't buy what they want when they want it, or go wherever they want whenever they want, they would just as soon let they whole planet go to hell anyway.

  7. In your "understood nothing" you only make the case that if the EROI is greater than one, then anyone who doesn't think renewables will work is an idiot. That is a straw man argument, that is not the main reason why people see renewables as being unsustainable -- it is that there are no electrical processes from start to finish in the life cycle of a contraption that generates electricity. Consider the wind turbine:
    Electricity simply doesn’t substitute for all the uses of fossil fuels, so windmills will never be able to reproduce themselves from the energy they generate — they are simply not sustainable. Consider the life cycle of a wind turbine – giant diesel powered mining trucks and machines dig deep into the earth for iron ore, fossil-fueled ships take the ore to a facility that will crush it and permeate it with toxic chemicals to extract the metal from the ore, the metal will be taken in a diesel truck or locomotive to a smelter which runs exclusively on fossil fuels 24 x 7 x 365 for up to 22 years (any stoppage causes the lining to shatter so intermittent electricity won’t do). There are over 8,000 parts to a wind turbine which are delivered over global supply chains via petroleum-fueled ships, rail, air, and trucks to the assembly factory. Finally diesel cement trucks arrive at the wind turbine site to pour many tons of concrete and other diesel trucks carry segments of the wind turbine to the site and workers who drove gas or diesel vehicles to the site assemble it.

    1. Amen to that. Proud to be in the 36% minority - if anything, I am somewhat surprised and disappointed that there are so many of us.

      I cannot claim to be an expert, but indeed I do not think that the problems with "renewables" are restricted to the EROI: there are many parts of industrial civilization that just cannot run on anything other than fossil fuels.

      But of course renewables are the future. If by renewables you mean growing biomass powered by the sun, like in my grand-grandfather's times.

  8. I do not understand how the man who wrote "extracted" seems to ignore that oil is needed to extract the metals and minerals needed to build wind turbines and solar panels; that oil is itself a raw material for the making of the many polymers found in these same wind turbines and solar panels. Finally, 36% I don't call it a minority

  9. Personally I wouldn't at all equate a 'Doomer' stance with one's position re the potential for renewables as the basis of sustainable 'civilization'. One may accept that renewables may support a sustainable civilization, while doubting that a pathway to that end is likely.

    I personally doubt that technological and logistical feasibility of renewables impacts the BAU scenarios from L2G as they unfold. Rather it is exponential growth(s)within the finite system that sweeps us toward catastrophic tipping point(s).

    After that, it's a mighty steep Seneca Curve, Baby!

    Dave Z

  10. It is hard to argue against "but renewable energy is the future of humankind" regardless of where you are on the doom scale. Even those that refute the notion that you can satisfy an ever growing human economy, resource use and population with only renewables can support that they still will be the future of human kind (at least if you include biomass in renewables).

    Perhaps you argue against some other standpoint which I haven't really encountered?

  11. Interesting that the modal (45%) response recognized that cutting human population is part of the solution. It may be that this century will demonstrate that as places like Norway (99% hydro electicity) and Germany (lots of solar, falling population) and Japan (Japan will halve in less than a century at current fertility rate) will do well and places where fertility rates are still above 4 (most of Africa) will suffer badly. The answer is "all of the above"--cut population, switch to renewables, redistribute power and wealth for social justice. And some kind of moral awakening I think, where we come to understand the interdependence of species.

  12. i think you are totally wrong about renewable energy ugo, sorry. for eroei reasons, and catch 22 reasons. renewables are dependent for everything on fossil fuels, and are a manifestation of a growing industrial economy, of a certain scale based on the fossil fuel 'battery'. there is no saving this titanic. this ponzi scheme. this megacancer. some of us over at humptydumptytribe would call you an optocoloptimist or even, less politely, a CFM, although i admire you too much for that.

  13. 2019 Collapse Survey Demographics now UP on the Doomstead Diner.

    Survey now with 600 Respondents, 212 from r/collapse, 136 from Cassandra's Legacy, 99 from TBP, 76 from the Doomstead Diner. 75% with a Bachelors minimum, 13% Doctoral level. Survey still OPEN, you can still get your opinions in and be counted with the 600.

    The Charge of the Light Brigade
    By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
    Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    “Forward, the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns!” he said.
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    “Forward, the Light Brigade!”
    Was there a man dismayed?
    Not though the soldier knew
    Someone had blundered.
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die.
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of hell
    Rode the six hundred.

    Flashed all their sabres bare,
    Flashed as they turned in air
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
    All the world wondered.
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right through the line they broke;
    Cossack and Russian
    Reeled from the sabre stroke
    Shattered and sundered.
    Then they rode back, but not
    Not the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell.
    They that had fought so well
    Came through the jaws of Death,
    Back from the mouth of hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.

    When can their glory fade?
    O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wondered.
    Honour the charge they made!
    Honour the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred!


  14. Hmm. Dropped by the Doomstead Diner. Never heard of them before. I didn't like what I saw. Straining at gnats. Insulting each other. Morons behind keyboards.

    Surfed around some more, but I still didn't like it. It's the same useless blather found everywhere else. Same people too. Typical and sad. Misdirected and misguided screen addicts doing next to nothing. No strategy. Aimless blather. I won't be going back.

    Ah well, it's typical these days. Intelligent life is nearly absent.

  15. No point in arguing. Gail Tverberg already said it better than any of the rest of us ever could.



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)