The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."
Showing posts with label blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogger. Show all posts

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Fighting Shadow-Banning. The Seneca Blog Lands on Substack


The new face of the "Seneca Effect" blog on Substack. It is an attempt to circumvent the shadow ban imposed on the blog by the powers that be. Maybe it will do better on Substack than on the Google blogger platform, where it is now, although I am not sure: never underestimate the power of the PTBs. In any case, for some time, the two platforms, Google Blogger and Substack, will go in parallel and publish the same posts.

"Shadow Banning" (also "soft banning", or "ghost banning") is a clever way to make someone disappear from the Web, without giving the impression that he or she has been censored (*). It simply consists in making one's website disappear from the first pages of the search engines. It works: you get lost in the vast prairies of the Internet and your readers can't find you anymore. It happened even to Donald Trump when he was still president. 

The "Seneca Effect" blog underwent the same treatment. You can see it on this record from "Google Analytics.

You see that the blog was gaining popularity at the end of 2022, especially when I set up a new domain called "" Then, something happened in late December. The trend went through a reversal, going down and plateauing at about half of the level they had one year before. And it keeps going down. 

For a while, I thought that it was due to the catastrophists leaving the blog in droves when I published an optimistic post on renewable energy. That made some of them not just disagree but whipped them into a positive frenzy of personal insults against my modest person. Catastrophists are a curious bunch of people, always reminding me of Groucho Marx's quip about not wanting to belong to a group that accepts people like you as members. But, after a few months, the effect of a single post should have disappeared. But no... the blog continues to decline in terms of audience. 

Of course, the PTBs will never admit that they are shadow-banning someone. But the symptoms are clear. Just use your search engine, and you'll see that the "Seneca Effect" blog comes way back in the list of the results, preceded by other sites dealing with Seneca matters, and even by my old site, "Cassandra's Legacy," which I had to abandon more than one year ago because it had been banned (not so softly) by Facebook. Even Wikipedia does not cite the Seneca blog on its page on the "Seneca Effect," only the old, and not updated anymore, Cassandra blog. Not surprising, since they are notoriously in the hands of alien monsters from outer space. 

Only Bing, miraculously, shows the blog on the first page when you search for "Seneca Effect." I would never have imagined becoming a fan of Bill Gates!

So, life is hard for shadow-banned bloggers, and it is little comfort to be in a group that includes Donald Trump and many others (and, again, about not wanting to belong to a certain group....). Shadow banning is like one of those curses of fantasy novels that plague people forever unless they go through special rituals or difficult tests, say, slaying a dragon. But slaying the Google dragon is surely much more difficult than getting rid of Tolkien's Smaug. 

So, the only possibility to circumvent soft banning is to change the name of your site, or change platform. For the time being, I am trying a move to Substack, which seems to be less subjected to Google power and, for now, not practicing censorship. You can find the Seneca version on Substack at this link. (**)

Will it work? I don't know. For the time being, the two platforms, Google Blogger and Substack, will go in parallel, mirroring each other. And we'll see. 


One point on which I am not sure is how Substack's popularity relies heavily on monetary support for authors from readers. Maybe it is a good idea and I don't despise a little compensation for the work I am doing: after all, I take royalties on the books I sell. Also, on Blogger, I have a small advertising banner that brings me about $25 per month (!!). I keep it there mainly as a way to get a feeling of the number of people who stay on the page long enough to notice the banner. In that case, though, the advertisers pay, not the readers. But I feel a bit queasy about asking readers to pay to read my posts. If I activate paid subscriptions on Substack, I would do that only as an option for readers to show their support, but not as a requisite to read the posts. But what do you think? 

(*) Shadow banning doesn't need the Internet to exist. It is a much older story. Just as a quick note, I would like to mention the treatment inflicted on the great mathematician Vito Volterra in the 1930s, as a result of his opposition to the Fascist government in Italy. He was not physically harmed, jailed, or his movement restricted. He was just ignored: gradually marginalized, fired from his position as president of the Italian Research Council, and later even from his position as university professor. None of his colleagues dared to defy the ban, and up to the 1960s, it remained politically incorrect to mention him and his work in Italy (see this article by Giovanni Paoloni)

(**) I have another blog on Substack, "The Proud Holobionts," dedicated to the ecosystem, climate, biology, and the like. It is also a mirror of the same blog on Google's blogger. 


Note added after publication: the "Seneca Effect" blog seems to be also tainted on chatGPT. The AI bot names it, but when asked to provide a link for it, it provides the wrong one. 

Can you suggest a blog to learn about the Seneca Effect?

Yes, there are several blogs and websites where you can learn about the Seneca Effect, a phenomenon named after the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca who observed that "growth is slow, but ruin is rapid." Here are a few suggestions:

"The Seneca Effect" by Ugo Bardi: Ugo Bardi is an Italian chemist and professor at the University of Florence who has written extensively on the Seneca Effect. His blog, "The Seneca Effect," is a great place to start for an introduction to the concept. He has also written several books on the subject, including "The Seneca Effect: Why Growth is Slow But Collapse is Rapid."

"Cassandra's Legacy" by Ugo Bardi: Ugo Bardi's blog, "Cassandra's Legacy," covers a wide range of topics related to sustainability, including the Seneca Effect. In addition to his own writing, the blog also features guest posts from other experts in the field.

"Our Finite World" by Gail Tverberg: Gail Tverberg is an actuary and analyst who writes about energy, economics, and the limits to growth. Her blog, "Our Finite World," covers a wide range of topics related to the intersection of energy and the economy, including the Seneca Effect.

"The Automatic Earth" by Ilargi and Stoneleigh: "The Automatic Earth" is a blog that covers economic and financial news from a perspective that emphasizes the limits to growth. The blog covers a wide range of topics related to the Seneca Effect, including the impact of resource depletion on the global economy.

These blogs and websites are great resources for learning more about the Seneca Effect and its implications for sustainability, economics, and the future of our planet.

Can you provide links for the above suggestions?

Certainly! Here are the links to the blogs I mentioned in my previous response:

"The Seneca Effect" by Ugo Bardi:

"Cassandra's Legacy" by Ugo Bardi:

"Our Finite World" by Gail Tverberg:

"The Automatic Earth" by Ilargi and Stoneleigh:

I hope you find these resources helpful for learning about the Seneca Effect!

After much prodding, the dumb thing spouted out the truth:

"It's possible that my training data may not have included the correct information regarding the link to Ugo Bardi's "The Seneca Effect" blog, or that I misinterpreted the context of the original question. In any case, I apologize for any confusion my earlier response may have caused and hope that my subsequent responses have been helpful in providing the correct information."

Friday, June 10, 2022

Does anyone still care about climate science?

The logo of my old blog, Cassandra's Legacy. I am a little nostalgic about my old friend, the Trojan prophetess who had been an active blogger for ten years. But she had attracted the ire of the powers that be, so I had to move to a new blog, this one under the auspices of the ancient Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Poor Cassandra still seems to be a target, as I report in this post. 

You know that the Prophetess Cassandra was cursed so that she would never be believed and, at the same time, being always right. So, recently I noted that a post written in 2018 on my old blog, Cassandra's Legacy, had as title "Why, in a Few Years, Nobody Will be Talking about Climate Change Anymore."  And, as usual, Lady Cassandra, was right. Nowadays, nobody seems to care anymore about Climate Science -- zero, zilch, nada, null -- no interest. It is gone beyond the horizon of the events as if sucked into a black hole. Greta Thunberg? Who is she?

Strangely, though, a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see that the Powers that Be targeted again the Trojan Prophetess for an old post on Climate Change. 

It is common on Facebook and Twitter that you see your posts removed because they "violated the community guidelines," whatever that may mean. But, on the Blogger platform, it was new for me. And yet, it happened. They removed a post on Climate Change that went back to 2014. Puzzled, I asked them to reinstate it, and they did, after just a couple of days. What Google takes away, Google may give back. 

With the best of goodwill, I could not find anything in that post that could have awakened the censors. Sure, it was "catastrophistic" but it didn't mention the current bugaboos (you know what I mean). They mentioned "malware" as the cause for deletion, but there was nothing of that sort in the post (and, after all, they reinstated it exactly as it was). I tend to think that someone got offended by this post and complained to them. So, maybe someone still cares about Climate Science! But we'll have to wait to see Troy on fire before admitting that the Prophetess was right.

I am reproposing the post here, on the "Seneca Effect" blog. 


Cli-fi: ten assorted doomsday scenarios

From "Cassandra's Legacy" 2014.

Image created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art.

In fiction, it is possible to extrapolate the consequences of normal phenomena to their extreme forms and to examine events that could happen, no matter how they are perceived as unlikely. Hence, the interest in "climate fiction" ("cli-fi") as a way to explore the possible consequences of climate change in situations much more extreme than those of the usually sanitized scenarios presented by scientists.

It seems that, so far, only a few of the many possible climate related catastrophes have been explored in detail in movies and novels. So, I have prepared here a list of ten apocalyptic scenarios, all related to climate change (of course, many more can be conceived). "Scenarios" and "fiction" are closely related concepts, except that the latter doesn't necessarily have to follow the laws of physics. In this case, none of these scenarios is physically impossible; but they are stretched a bit (a lot) for increased fictional dramatic effects. The list may serve as a source of inspiration for those of us who are trying their hand at writing cli-fi novels. The scenarios are arranged in an approximate order of increasingly catastrophic events. 

1.  "The Great Coal Flame" (or "Saddam squared"). A giant coal fire which can't be extinguished. We all know how, in 1991, the Iraqi troops retreating from Kuwait dynamited some 700 oil wells, generating giant fires. The damage generated was not terribly catastrophic, and the fires could be extinguished in less than one year, choking them at the mouth of the wells. However, we can think of something more difficult to stop if we imagine that the fire could affect a large coal deposit. There already exist underground coal fires which have burned for centuries and seem to be impossible to extinguish. Let's imagine something much bigger, maybe as the result of a tactical nuke landing by mistake (or purposefully) on a major coal mine. The result would be a giant fire covering an enormous area; it would be probably much more difficult to  extinguish than the localized oil well fires of Kuwait in 1991. Maybe this would not be a global disaster but, already now, uncontrolled coal fires account for about 3% of the world's CO2 emissions; if a major coal mine were to catch fire, the resulting disaster could considerably accelerate the process of climate change. To say nothing of the damage generated in terms of ashes, sulfur oxides, mercury, and other poisonous chemicals.

2."Super-Calving." or "Heinrich's return". The rapid collapse into the sea of large amounts of ice. "Calving" is a well known phenomenon in which large masses of ice detach themselves from ice shelves and create icebergs. Normally, the process causes no damage to humans (except for special cases, such as for the "Titanic"). But imagine that very large chunks of ice were released at a much faster rate than the present one. It has happened in the remote past in episodes known as "Heinrich's events" described as "Armadas of icebergs crossing the North Atlantic". The process could disrupt navigation in areas near large ice sheets, such as near Greenland and it could also generate giant waves - not tsunamis, but large enough to cause damage at considerable distances. Then, the presence of large amounts of ice floating in the ocean would have significant effects on climate and on the oceanic thermohaline circulation. The combination of these phenomena would disrupt commerce and transportation in a vital area for the world's economy. Not really a worldwide disaster, but a big disaster anyway.

3."HyperstormsGiant storms wreaking disasters. An increase in the frequency and the size of hurricanes is expected to be a consequence of climate change. In some conditions, hurricanes could become truly enormous and in this case they would take the name of "hypercanes", continent-size super-storms which reach the stratosphere, with side effects such as destroying the protective ozone layer. Because of this effect, it has been speculated that some of the past mega-extinctions were due thypercanes. It is believed that sea surface temperatures high enough to create hypercanes can be generated onlby exceptional circumstances, such as by asteroidal impacts. However, it is not impossible that a combination of factors related to global warming could generate larger and larger storms. Now, already in the present conditions, hurricanes are a major destructive force on human-built structures, imagine something much bigger and even more destructive..... The damage would be mostly local, unless we manage to unchain a true hypercane which would create worldwide havoc by destroying the world's ozone layer.

4. "The great ring of ice disaster". The melting of the Northern ice sheets generates earthquakes and tsunamis. The "ring of ice" is a region which encompasses a number of geological faults in the Northern Hemisphere. This is already a volcanic active region, but the melting and the Greenland ice sheet would generate further instabilities. Greenland "floats" over the underlying semi-fluid mantle and would rise up when freed of the mass of ice that covers it (this is called "isostatic rebound"). The result would be the destabilization of the geological faults in the area: an increase in volcanism, earthquakes, large coastal landslides, and perhaps the sudden release of large amounts of methane from frozen hydrates. The most disastrous results would be Atlantic tsunamis, a phenomenon which so far has been very rare, but that would be enhanced and made more common by climate change. Tsunamis originating in Greenland could hit especially hard Scotland, Norway, and Ireland, but also the Northwestern continental European coast (Holland, in particular) disrupting or destroying an industrial and commercial hub fundamental for the whole Europe. That would surely have worldwide repercussions.

5. "The Big Freeze" (or: "the Younger Dryas reloaded")A rapid cooling, something of the order of −5 °C (23 °F) of the Northern Hemisphere. The tumbling into the ocean of the Greenland ice sheet could shut down the North-Atlantic thermohaline circulation. As we have seen in the movie "The day after tomorrow," that would generate a rapid cooling of the Northern Hemisphere. It is believed that something similar has already occurred during the period called the "Younger Dryas", around 12,000 years ago; probably  caused by the sudden release into the Atlantiof the cold water of a lake ("Lake Agassiz") when the ice dam that kept it locked in place gave way. (yes, it is the plot of the second film of "the ice age" series, the one titled "The Meltdown"). In the case of the Younger Dryas, the freeze appears to have taken place in a few years. Imagine if something similar were to happen today: the consequences would be, well, unimaginable, even if we were to assume they would affect only the Northern Hemisphere.

6. "The great sea onrush" The sea rise generated by the rapid melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets wipes out most of the coastal cities and infrastructures. The disappearance of the ice sheets of Greenland and of Antarctica is not so much a hypothesis as a virtual certainty, given the present trends. That would lead to a sea level rise of some 7 meters (24 feet) from Greenland alone, plus about 3 meters from West Antarctica, and further contribution from the slower melting of other ice sheets. However, it is normally believed that this event would unfold in centuries or millennia and that humans would have time to adapt (perhaps). After all, as it is often said, what is affected by the sea rise "is only real estate". But let's imagine that the process were much, much faster - taking place in a few decades or even less, at least for one of the two most unstable ice sheets in the world: Greenland and West Antarctica. You would not see the onrush of giant waves submerging coastal cities, as in the "2012" movie, but the sea rise would still be so fast that there would be no time to build levees or to relocate buildings and facilities inland. The result would be a frantic rush inland, while vital industrial and transportation infrastructure would have to be abandoned. A true global disaster.

7. "Tickling the tail of the dragon" (or: "Shooting yourself with the clathrate gun"). A giant, human caused methane release and the consequent rapid rise in temperature. Let's imagine that some well intentioned people try to solve the energy crisis by extracting methane from buried hydrates (or clathrates) at the bottom of the ocean. Now, imagine that by drilling inside these clathrate reservoirs triggers a self-reinforcing release phenomenon. Just like BP didn't know how to stop the Macondo well leakage, the companies drilling - say - in the Arctic Ocean, would discover that they don't know how to plug the hole they have drilled and that, even if they could, more and more holes are appearing by themselves. The result is a massive release of methane in the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas much more powerful than carbon dioxide. As a consequence, the "worst case" IPCC scenarios unfold in a few years instead of a century. The results? Well, possibly all the four previous scenarios: collapse of the ice sheets, oceanic thermohaline shutdown and all the dire consequences. But also extensive climate disruption and the desertification of temperate region. You wouldn't speak anymore of "drought in California" for the same reasons why you don't normally speak of "drought in the Sahara desert." California would become like the Sahara desert (and not just California). Totally global disaster.

8. "Goldilock's disasters" or "The great climate rebound"Geoengineering can backfire. We can imagine multiple disasters arising from well-intentioned but ill-conceived efforts to reduce global warming. Spraying particulate in the upper atmosphere, or maybe putting giant mirrors in orbit, would cool the earth, but we don't know how it would affect the weather patterns. For instance, it could weaken the Indian Ocean monsoon and condemn at least a billion of people to starvation. Or, one could go too far in the opposite direction and cool the planet too much, (too much of a good thing) with effects similar to those of a nuclear winter. Maybe we can also imagine that a major economic crisis defunds the geoengineering effort. Or, imagine that a major spin campaign convinces people that it was a hoax or useless (that's possibly the most realistic element of this scenario). Then, as the sunscreens fall, the earth returns to warming with a vengeance, as it would do after a nuclear winter and temperatures shot up so fast that, before screening can be resumed, it is too late. And that's truly global!

9. "The world as a giant gas chamber". What if CO2 turns out to be not as harmless as it is commonly believed? CO2 is often defined as "plant food" and it is believed that it cannot negatively affect human health until it reaches concentrations over at least 10 times the present values. However, it is also true that our species evolved in conditions of CO2 atmospheric concentrations below 300 ppm and that the present concentrations of 400 ppm have never been experienced by our ancestors. As the concentration of atmospheric CO2 keeps building up, we could reach concentrations four of five times larger than those which have been the rule for the past million years or so. CO2 is a reactive molecule which, among other things, would affect the blood pH and it has been argued that concentrations over 425 ppm would already have negative effects on human health; to say nothing of much higher values. So, if we discover that we have transformed the planet into a giant gas chamber, what would we do? 

10 "Venus, the ultimate disaster."  Temperatures could go up high enough to kill everything. The "Venus Scenario" is an extreme version of the "runaway greenhouse" effect. As temperatures go up, more and more water vapor is pumped into the atmosphere. Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, it causes further warming of the atmosphere. At its extreme limit, the process could self-reinforce to the point that the oceans would completely evaporate. Temperatures could become so high that carbonates in the crust would be decomposed and that would create a dense atmosphere saturated with CO2. Add some sulfuric acid generated by volcanoes and you have transformed Earth into something very similar to Venus. Temperatures would reach several hundred degrees C at the surface; no liquid water, no life. Right now, the solar radiation arriving on the earth is believed to be not high enough to generate the kind of feedback that would transform earth into a twin of Venus. But there are always uncertainties in these calculations and the "Venus scenario" cannot be completely ruled out. The only escape from the Venus catastrophe would be leaving Earth for another planet, supposing that humans were able to build spaceships early enough. This is, clearly, the ultimate catastrophe: the sterilization of the whole planet.

It is fiction, it is only fiction, but........

See also another list of climate disasters. Also the source of the above image