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Page added on March 26, 2018

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The Seneca Effect: A Review


Writing from Berlin, where the presentation of “The Seneca Effect” is going to start in a few hours.  And here is another review by Ronny Wagner, in German, which I translated the best I could with the help of Google.

The Seneca effect

Seneca effect

“It would be a comfort to our weak souls and our works, if all things would pass away as they arise; but as it is, growth is progressing slowly, while the road to ruin is fast. “Lucius Anneau’s Seneca”

The “Seneca Effect” describes many phenomena that grow slowly and quickly decline. As it turns out, collapses can occur in many different forms and everywhere. They have many different causes and develop in different ways. However, all breakdowns have certain consistent characteristics. They are always collective phenomena, that is, they occur only in so-called complex systems. Complex systems have the property that they are linked by many links. The collapse of a complex system is the rapid reorganization of a large number of such links.  

These nodes are in our case humans and their interactions with their environment. This is the research field of the social sciences, economics and history. All of these systems have a lot in common: a nonlinear behavior. In a complex system, there is no simple relationship between cause and effect. Rather, a complex system can multiply the effects of a small perturbation. Conversely, a disturbance can also be damped so that the system is barely affected. These facts mean that predictions in complex systems are impossible. Predictions by experts about the future development of a complex system are simply fantasy. You should not pay attention to them.

But how can a person adjust to the Seneca effect?

“Growth is progressing slowly, while the road to ruin is fast. “Seneca

In fact, the Seneca effect is the result of trying to resist change instead of accepting it. The more resistance you make to change, the more that change will bounce back. It is no coincidence that philosophers often advise not to cling to material things that are part of this difficult and volatile world. That’s good advice.

“The hard and the rigid accompany death. The soft and weak accompanies life. “Laotse

In dealing with a collapse, we should therefore adhere to the advice of Epictetus: “We must set up the things in our power as well as possible, but take everything else as it comes.”
It follows that one can mitigate the “Seneca cliff”, if one accepts the change, instead of resisting it. It means that you should never try to force the system into something it does not want to do.

Jay Forrester: “Everyone is trying to ‘steer the system’ in the wrong direction.”

Politics seems to have given up any attempt to adapt to change. Instead, it resorts to simplified but powerful slogans that try to prospect the return to aimpossible prosperous past. People often make tremendous efforts to keep relationships together that should be closed. Also, we stubbornly cling to our workplace, though we may hate it and realize that we should seek a new one. Whole civilizations experienced a decline and disappeared because they did not adapt to change, a fate thatwe could experience, too, if we don’t learn how to accept changes.
It should not be forgotten that you can fix a problem, but not a change. You can only adapt to a change.

9 Comments on "The Seneca Effect: A Review"

  1. Anonymous on Mon, 26th Mar 2018 2:39 pm 

    1. Even the basic bell curve peak oilers favor has proved wrong for world and US oil and gas. Dramatically wrong. So Seneca? Even more wrong.

    2. When we do see peak it is more likely to be a gradual down plateau as price incentjvizes finding more hard oil and as existing infrastructure is leveraged to future development.

    3. It would take a massive drop in demand to drive Seneca graph. Either a better substitute or a massive war or financial collapse.

    4. Interesting this is on same page as the discussion of how environmentalists love catastrophe theory with a religious fervor.

  2. rockman on Mon, 26th Mar 2018 3:11 pm 

    A – Well said. Another approach is to deconstruct the global oil production chart. Essentially it’s the cumulative effect of the of each individual oil well on the planet. For a SE to happen naturally the vast majority of those wells would have to develop a SE profile. Historically over the last 100+ years such a profile has rarely been seen. In fact, statistically speaking, so rare that it does not exist. Typically for any individual well or even an entire field production ramps up very quickly and then declines much more slowly.

    And then there the potential for a man induced SE. Operators around the world sudden agree to reduce their oil production: very difficult to imagine circumstances that would bring that about. Or prices rise so high and so quickly producing that consumption is drastically reduced. We just experienced such a period and saw just the opposite develop: increased production. And followed by an oil price collapse…followed by another production increase.

    I’ve yet to see any reasonable circumstance that would create a Seneca effect in global oil production.

  3. Anonymous on Mon, 26th Mar 2018 5:02 pm 

    Ugo Bardi has a really nice vibe to him. Can see him drinking wine in his tweed jacket with books in the background and a little light grousing about American Republicans. Both for being American and for being Republican. But not even in that hateful a manner. More bemused.

    He’s tenured and just enjoying his life. For a doomer, also, he is remarkably pleasant in tone. Not angry, edgy.

    All that said, as a chemist (he is too), and as a general technical guy who has worked in oil, financial analysis, power engineering, pharma, piping, etc. I just find Bardi to be curiously unthoughtful. He’s been wrong all over the place on peak oil stuff…and it doesn’t penetrate him to think if he is being analytical enough or unbiased enough. The easiest person to fool is yourself!

    It’s kind of not that big a deal for a policy advocate. But it worries me as a teacher of a technical subject. He needs to teach his kids more than just how to do a specific technical problem, but how to think critically.

  4. Davy on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 5:12 am 

    Damn, Nony, this is the first time you said what your profession is. While I disagree with you in general on cornucopia, I do very much appreciate your beneficial posts. You give important oil related information that is very relevant to my doom. I like that. I want to be proved wrong and corrected where I am wrong. I was wrong about some of my thoughts on unconventionals.

    I am a doomer and you have yet to change my opinion though you have moderated me with my understanding of unconventionals which you have done a fine job of explaining. Yet, I will tell you there is much more to civilization systematically than oil. Doom is multifaceted study that includes peak oil dynamics. Doom is also about less doom and this is something you have helped with by all your discussions. I don’t want the world to end as we know it immediately. I want some things to change but I want mankind not to suffer horribly in that process of change. Painful change is coming regardless of emotions. Cornucopians mistake this sometimes and lump all doomers in as nutter collapseniks. I have been there and done that years ago. I am less extreme now but no less worried.

  5. dave thompson on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 8:54 am 

    Maybe what goes up must come down applies.

  6. Anonymouse1 on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 1:13 pm 

    Don’t forget to thank Nonytard for teaching you everything you know about sock-puppeting as well exceptionalist. If it was not for him, you still be stuck with just one dysfunctional personality. Now, thanks to Econ101tard here, you can rant and rage with *two* incoherent rambling identities.

    Twice fun, and just as dumb.

  7. Davy on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 1:31 pm 

    Weasel, I would like to see you debate Nony on the Canadian tar sands you try to pawn off as American tar
    Sands. You basically hate the oil experts here because you have little to no oil understanding. This I made clear when I bitch slapped you in our debate over oil sands.

  8. Anonymouse1 on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 2:01 pm 

    ROFL. ‘We’ never had any ‘debate’ on that topic. Or any other for that matter, dumbass.

    But in order to help expand your dim, limited understanding of matters, it is ‘tar’ sands dumbass, not ‘oil’ sands.

    You’re welcome.

  9. Davy on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 2:35 pm 

    See, that hitch slapping is still hurting you weasel.

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