Ugo Bardi teaches physical chemistry at the University of Florence in Italy. His scientific interests are mainly in socioeconomical models of resource management, with a special view on fossil fuel depletion and on the development of renewable energy. He is member of the editorial board of "The Oil Drum," a web site dedicated to energy resources; he is member of the scientific committee of ASPO (association for the study of peak oil), president of the Italian section of ASPO, member of the scientific committee of the "Climalteranti" group, an association of Italian climatologists. He has published two books on oil depletion (in Italian) and he is completing the forthcoming book The Limits to Growth Revisited, which will be published by Springer. He is also interested in the connection of modern science with the classical world and has published one book on the ancient myth of the Etruscan Chimera (in Italian) as well as articles on the decline of the Roman Empire. Ugo Bardi is an Italian citizen, born in Florence in 1952. He is married with Grazia and they have two children (rather grown ups by now). They live on the hills of Fiesole, near Florence.
In 1972, "The Limits to Growth" study arrived in a world that had known more than two decades of unabated growth after the end of the Second World War. It was a time of optimism and faith in technological progress that, perhaps, had never been so strong in the history of humankind.
Sometimes I wonder how it was that Cassandra, the Trojan prophetess, had so much trouble in convincing her fellow Trojan citizen that it was not such a good idea to demolish the city walls to let in that big, wooden horse.
Don't you stumble, sometimes, into something that seems to make a lot of sense but you can't say exactly why? For a long time, I had in mind the idea that when things start going bad, they tend to go bad fast. We might call this tendency the "Seneca effect" or the "Seneca cliff," from Lucius Anneaus Seneca who wrote that "increases are of sluggish growth, but the way to ruin is rapid."
We could modify the system taking into account many more effects – recycling waste for instance, but let me not go into that. Let's see, instead, is how the model describes Hubbert's curve which is the flow rate from the resources stock to the economy stock.
You may remember from your studies that entropy is related to disorder. In some senses, it is true, but it is a definition that creates a lot of confusion. Think of entropy as heat dissipation. Then, everything that happens in the world is the result of some heat being dissipated – entropy tends to grow.
For the past century or so, the biological origin of oil seemed to be the accepted norm. However, there remained a small group of critics who pushed the idea that, instead, oil is generated from inorganic matter within the earth's mantle. The question might have remained within the limits of a specialized debate among geologists, as it has been until not long ago. However, the recent supply problems have pushed crude oil to the center stage of international news.
A silver mask that had belonged to a Roman cavalryman of imperial times. It was found on the site of the battle of Teutoburg, fought in September 9 a.d. This year marks the 2000th anniversary of the battle that led to the annihilation of three Roman legions and changed forever the history of Europe. It was a tremendous shock for the Romans, who saw their mighty army destroyed by uncivilized barbarians. It was not yet the peak of the Roman Empire, but it was a first hint that something was deeply wrong with it.