Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Before The Collapse: The New Book by Ugo Bardi

My new book on collapse is out, published by Springer. You can find it at the Springer site at this link (priced in Euro) and at this link (priced in dollars). You can find it also on most Web sites that sell books.

Collapse is a popular subject nowadays, so I thought I could add some more confusion to the already ongoing mess by publishing this new book "Before the Collapse: A Guide to the Other Side of Growth."

If you follow the "Cassandra's Legacy" blog, you know that collapse is a subject that I touch frequently and that two years ago I published a book titled "The Seneca Effect," that made an explicit reference to the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, whose work I took as the first mention in history of collapse as a normal feature of the universe. "The Seneca Effect" was not a difficult book to read but it was a technical book, dedicated to people interested in subjects such as system dynamics. It was also priced accordingly.

So, the second book was thought at the beginning as a simplified version of the first to be placed in the category of "trade books" destined to the general public (also at a lower price). But, eventually, as the text grew, it became a different book. It maintained some elements of the first, but it included new examples, new ideas, new subjects, and a new slant. It became a practical manual on how to deal with collapse, although it does not neglect some scientific elements of the story (and for this I have to thank my unicellular assistant, Amelia the Amoeba. You see her in the picture on the right, as she appears in the book. She is a nice girl except for her habit of eating human brains, but - hey! - nobody's perfect!)

So, the choice of the title, "Before the Collapse," to emphasize that we still have time to prepare for "The Other Side of Growth," the dreaded social and climatic collapse that, by now, appears unavoidable. Yes, but that doesn't mean we have to fall into the doom and gloom attitude that seems to be spreading among those who take the time to examine the situation. The gist of the book is that collapse is not an exceptional event, it is the way the universe works (collapse is not a bug, it is a feature). It is the way the universe uses to get rid of the old to make space for the new. And we badly need to get rid of the old things and ideas that have led us to where we are. As someone said, "collapse early and avoid the rush!" So, sometimes you can't avoid collapse, but you can always be prepared for it.

But "BTC" is not just about the "big one," the civilization collapse that we are fearing so much and for good reasons. Collapse, it seems, has a certain fractal character. There are big and small collapses and the small ones are more frequent and can affect anyone. So, BTC tries to help the reader to navigate among the perilous cliffs of life that involve such things as bankruptcy, natural disasters, structural collapses, wars (large and small), social unrest, business competition, zombie apocalypses and more. It is a sort of a smorgasbord of collapses: there is something for everyone.

Writing a book is a big effort and once you have a printed copy in your hand you always feel like you would have written it in a different way if you were to start anew. But books are books, this one is written and I hope you'll like it. I dedicated it to my two granddaughters, Aurora and Beatrice, who were both born while it was being written. While writing, I couldn't' avoid realizing that their life will be most likely way more "bumpy" than ours, but I don't despair for their future. Humans are an adaptable species and our descendants will adapt to the mess their ancestors created and, I hope, will find ways to clean it up.

And so, onward, fellow humans!


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)