15 SepEarth Science and Engineering Graduate SeminarZOOM WEBINAR: Overconsumption, Overpopulation and Climate Change
ZOOM WEBINAR: Overconsumption, Overpopulation and Climate Change
  • Prof. Tadeusz Patzek
  • King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
  • Wednesday, September 15, 2021
  • 04:30 PM - 05:30 PM
2021-09-15T16:302021-09-15T17:30Asia/RiyadhZOOM WEBINAR: Overconsumption, Overpopulation and Climate ChangeKAUST, WEBINAR VIA ZOOMProf. Thomas Finkbeinerthomas.finkbeiner@kaust.edu.sa


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: We often wonder what is worse, overconsumption by the rich nations or overpopulation elsewhere? I argue that overconsumption came first as the young capitalism unleashed the incredible creative power of humanity. This creativity led to the development of new technologies. Technology reveals the earth, as Heidegger once said. In the context of my talk, this revealing allowed us to develop the new geophysical power sources to speed up technological progress ever faster.  With more power and technology, the exploding human numbers caused overconsumption and changed the dynamics of human development. Little did we know that by releasing as much CO2 into the atmosphere in 200 years, as it took the Chicxulub asteroid days and geology tens of millions of years, there would be a bill to pay.  Now the bill for being a "two-Chicxulub" civilization has become due.  How exactly and in what form, I'll tell you in my seminar. But - as in Part 2 of Goethe's Faust, "He who strives on and lives to strive / Can earn redemption still" (V, 11936–7) - humanity still can save itself.

Biography: Tadeusz (Tad) Patzek is Director of the Ali I Al‐Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center and Professor of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Until December 2014, he was the Lois K. and Richard D. Folger Leadership Professor and Chairman of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin. He also held the Cockrell Family Regents Chair #11. Between 1990 and 2008, he was a Professor of Geoengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining Berkeley, he was a Senior Reservoir Engineer at Shell Western E&P in Bakersfield, CA (1989‐1990), and a Senior Research Scientist at the venerable Shell Development Bellaire Research Center (BRC) in Houston, TX. (1983‐1989).

Patzek is also a Presidential Full Professor in Poland (highest honor) and a Distinguished Member of the SPE. By education, he is a chemical process engineer and physicist trained in catalysis and computational fluid mechanics. In 1983, at BRC, two UT professors, Larry Lake and Gary Pope, introduced Patzek to petroleum engineering and his life was never the same.

Patzek has engaged in the studies of complex systems, focusing on the human factors in ultra‐deepwater offshore operations. He briefed Congress on the BP Deepwater Horizon well disaster in the Gulf, and was a frequent guest on NPR, ABC, BBC, CNN, and CBS programs. In January 2011, Patzek became a member of the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee for the Department of Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). He co‐ wrote a popular book with a famous historian, Joseph Tainter, "Drilling Down: The Gulf Debacle and our Energy Dilemma."

In 2014, Patzek, Michael Marder and Mr. Frank Male received the Cozzarelli Prize from the National Academy of Sciences for the best paper in engineering in 2013, "Gas production in the Barnett Shale obeys a simple scaling law."

Since 2003, Patzek has engaged in the studies of sustainability, and industrial agricultural and agrofuel systems, all viewed through the lens of ecology and irreversible thermodynamics. Patzek's papers in this domain are among his most cited. In 2007, Patzek participated in the OECD ministerial meetings in Paris that coped with the new biofuel mandates established in the US. In 2006 and 2007, Patzek and his son Lucas argued in vain against the irreversible damage of the tropical ecosystems in Indonesia, Malaysia, equatorial Africa and Brazil.

For his work, Patzek received the Desiderius Erasmus Award from EAGE in 2020.

For the last 8 years, Patzek has maintained a blog, LifeItself, about the environment, ecology, energy, complexity and human activities with some  800,000 unique readers.

Patzek coauthored over 300 papers and reports, and wrote five other books, one of which is submitted for publication. His citation index is here.


  • Prof. Thomas Finkbeiner
  • thomas.finkbeiner@kaust.edu.sa