Monday, October 14, 2019

Report from Tehran: What is the Effect of the Sanctions?

My wife, Grazia, in a supermarket in Tehran, today. No effect of the economic sanctions is visible. The shelves are full of goods from everywhere. You can find even Coca Cola cans

For this Monday post on Cassandra's Legacy, I can offer you just a very brief report from Tehran, Iran, where I am for a meeting. I arrived here thinking that the economic sanctions were bankrupting the country. Maybe, but if they do, it seems to be taking a very long time. The streets are full of traffic, all shops are full of goods, Tehran is alive and well and the Iranians I met seem to be in good spirits, not at all dismayed by the situation, engaged in the celebrations for this year's Ashura. My colleagues tell me that the only effect of the sanctions is the difficulty they have to buy electronic equipment when they need it -- it has to come from China and it is now more expensive than before the embargo.

That's surprising, considering that the Iranian oil production has dropped from nearly 4 million barrels/day to about 1 million barrels/day after the embargo. The oil revenues for Iran must have collapsed this year -- but it may very well be that more oil is produced and exported than it is reported in the official statistics.

I am here for a meeting on the desalination of seawater and I'll report some preliminary results of a study we are performing on the extraction of lithium from the sea -- the perspectives seem to be reasonably good. If our civilization collapses, it will not be because of the lack of lithium.

That's all for this Monday. Greetings from Tehran!


  1. Are you into desalination? I'm still looking to see if my ideas for intermediate tech desalination are useful -- using just steam engine level technology from 19th or early 20th century. And of course collect the sea salt from which you can get the minerals...

    1. Not really into desalination. I have been following the field, but mainly about the capability to extract minerals from seawater. About your idea, it might be interesting, but by now the desalination industry is membranous behemoth that devours the competition. But, who knows?

  2. Relative energy efficient lower tech desalination approaches that apply especially to food production, are you familiar with this project? like many desalination projects, the question of how to safely return the salt / brine back to the environment is an issue, even at this small scale.

  3. Thought you might find this interesting;



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)