December 11, 2013: Book presentation and discussion on “Plundering the Planet” with Ugo Bardi in Vienna (Austria) at the Impact Hub Vienna (Lindengasse 56, Top 18-19, 1070 Wien, Austria) from 16.00 – 18.30.
Click here to register or to find out more about the event. The pdf-version of the invitation can be downloaded here.
November 28, 2013: Book launch event of the new Report to the Club of Rome, “Pundering the Planet” in Zurich, Switzerland.
The government of the German State of Baden-Württemberg invited Club of Rome Member Ugo Bardi to present the Report on “Plundering the Planet” at the “Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Congress” as keynote at the opening ceremony.
At the Congress, which will be held from 12-13 November 2013 in Stuttgart, Germany, the State Government will present the key factors of its new “State Strategy on Resource Efficiency in Baden-Württemberg”. Representatives from various fields such as business, science and politics, will come together in order to lay the foundation for future steps and further action to raise energy efficiency. [Read more...]
The program is available for download here (in German): Ressourceneffizienz- und Kreislaufwirtschaftskongress in Stuttgart 12.-13.11.2013
Please refer to www.ressourceneffizienzkongress.de (in German) for more information.
October 7-9, 2013: The Club of Rome is partner of the World Resources Forum in Davos, where the new Reports “Plundering the Planet” and “Bankrupting Nature” are presented. Speakers include the author Ugo Bardi as well as the Co-Presidents of the Club of Rome Anders Wijkman and Ernst-Ulrich von Weizsäcker. Click here for more information.
September 4, 2013: Dresden conference on materials, energy, and public acceptance
Click here to read Ugo Bardi’s account of the Conference of the Technical University in Dresden: “The Dresden Conference: Communicating Science“.
To download the full program of the Conference, please follow this link.
The plundering of the planet continues
written by Ugo Bardi*
Reports on the consistence of mineral resources came out almost at the same time during the past few weeks. One was issued by the Club of Rome with the title “Plundering the Planet” (Der Geplunderte Planet) (1), others were issued by the Energy Information Agency (EIA) (2) and by the International Energy Agency (IEA) (3).
These reports are apparently very different in terms of approach and content: Those from the energy agencies emphasize the fact that there remain considerable resources to extract; the one from the Club of Rome tells us that these remaining resources are expensive and polluting. In the end, however, these reports all agree on one point: the planet has been abundantly plundered, although not completely. [Read more]
The Shale Gas Revolution: is it already over?
written by Ugo Bardi*
The “shale revolution” has been often touted as a game changer in energy production (1). Indeed, during the past few years, the increasing production trend of shale (or “tight”) gas in the US has generated a wave of optimism invading the media and the Web. However, not everyone has joined the chorus and several commentators have predicted that the trend would be short lived (see, e.g. Sorrell (2), Laherrere (3), Hughes (4), and Turiel (5)). Some have flatly stated that the effort in gas production in the US is simply a financial bubble, destined to deflate soon (see e.g. Orlov (6) and Berman (7)). Some, such as R. P. Siegel (8) even argue that the bursting of the gas bubble might bring about a financial collapse not unlike the one of 2008.
While the optimism about the future of natural gas seems to be still prevalent, the data show that the gas bubble may be already bursting. The most recent data from EIA (9) show that that the total US gas production has not been growing for the past 1-2 years and that it shows signs to be declining. Fitted with a Gaussian curve, it shows a peak taking place around the end of 2012. [Read more]
High-grade global deposits of coal, oil, gas and other minerals are declining to levels where extraction costs will increase dramatically, says Ugo Bardi, energy expert in a new Report to the Club of Rome
In Plundering the Planet, energy expert and professor of chemistry Ugo Bardi says that we are reaching the limits of economically feasible extraction of a number of mineral commodities, including metals and fossil fuels. The world will never run out of its minerals but extracting them will prove far more expensive. This will be one of the most important challenges of our civilization’s future, he says.
Our current economies are built on cheap fossil fuels and high grade mineral ores which can be economically exploited. However, if we continue with a ‘business as usual’ approach, we will soon reach the limits to which fossil fuels and other vital resources can be exploited. The increasing exploitation of non-conventional fuels, such as shale gas and tar sands could prolong the fossil fuel age for a few years. But this would lead us faster into the age of uncontrollable climate change.
Bardi also argues that given the countries in which certain minerals are found, future shortages could have geopolitical effects. For example, Chile, Australia, China and Argentina produce almost 95% of the world’s copper.
Plundering the Planet concludes that there is no magic bullet to solve the problem of the depletion of high-grade ores. As they become scarcer, we will be forced to exploit them at progressively lower concentrations and that will make mining more expensive, up to the point when some mineral commodities will no longer be affordable for the industrial system.
However, says Ugo Bardi, there is a solution. “If we meticulously manage what is left and use renewable energy, human civilisation can continue, provided we are willing to abandon our most wasteful habits. We need to close the industrial cycle, recover the minerals used and transform our approach to using resources”.
In welcoming the new Report, Ian Johnson, Club of Rome Secretary General says: “This book shows how careless humanity has been about wasting the earth’s finite resources. It is a warning that I hope we will heed, that without a change of direction some mineral commodities which are especially critical for their industrial applications will reach their productive peak within less than two decades.”
Some of the book’s findings
- We have nearly reached the limit at which we can economically extract the most important energy resources: fossil fuels and uranium. Conventional oil production will soon peak and then decline, followed shortly by other oil and gas resources. It is probably possible to increase coal production, but this will create tremendous damage to the ecosystem.
- The future shortage of oil and gas reserves will increase the speed of climate change as the fossil fuel industry extracts from dirtier, more polluting resources.
- The extraction of metals such as copper, zinc, nickel, gold and silver could peak and then decline in less than 20 years. Other mineral commodities that are irreplaceable in their industrial uses may become in short supply in the near future: e.g. platinum group metals for automotive catalytic converters, rare earths for magnets, and more.
- Most modern agriculture is dependent on phosphorus as it is a crucial element for plant growth that cannot be replaced by any other element or substance. Some 75% of known mineable phosphate reserves are found in Morocco and the Western Sahara. In several decades this might create a geopolitical ‘hotspot’ in Northern Africa.
- The distribution of non-renewable resources across the globe is likely to have geopolitical implications. For example, China produces more than 30% of the world’s zinc output. Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia, Brazil and South Africa own the bulk of known uranium reserves.
Plundering the Planet is the 33rd Report to the Club of Rome, signifying that it has been peer reviewed by experts to ensure it is scientifically rigorous, innovative and contributes a new, important element to the debate about humanity’s predicament.
Ugo Bardi is a Professor, teaching physical chemistry at the University of Florence, in Italy. He is an expert in resource depletion, system dynamics modeling, climate science and renewable energy. His most recent book is The Limits to Growth Revisited (Springer 2011).
The English edition of the Report will be published with Chelsea Green in early 2014.
The German edition of the new Report to the Club of Rome Plundering the Planet – How to Manage the Earth’s Limited Mineral Resources has been published by the oekom Verlag, ISBN-13: 978-3-86581-410-4, Munich, 2013. More information here.
Plundering the Planet (German language version) was launched on Thursday, 6 June in Berlin in cooperation with WWF Germany, the Worldwatch Institute and the German Association of the Club of Rome.