No, Not NEOM Nor Even Women Can Save Saudi Arabia and its Monarchy from Peak Oil and Collapse

You know things have taken a turn for the desperate when women have started to drive. Or rather, when they're about to start driving in Saudi Arabia.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Apologies for the delay in getting this first “real” post up on FF2F’s new iteration, but it turns out that I had a bit of a mishap. In short, I tore a ligament in my writing hand and had to lay off the pen for a while.

Alongside that I’ve continued to be hard at work adding various functions to the theme for this new Ghost blog of mine (you can still see many green squares appearing on my GitHub account), and I’ve also been making several other optimizations and additions on the back-end. One of those was the arduous process of migrating over all the previous comments from Commentics to Discourse, something I had to do comment by comment by comment.

Every “user” that I migrated over to Discourse now has a faux account set up (“username-old-system”), so if you had commented on the old system and create a new account here on FF2F’s Discourse instance (no need to leave a comment, just sign up and create an account), after I verify it’s you I’ll transfer over all your old comments to your new account. (If you are in fact one of the few commenters from the old system and set up a new account, you may notice something that looks like the following at the bottom of each of your comments: <!-- DD/MM/YY -->. That would be the date and time of when your original comment was left, and if Discourse ever allows for the date and time of comments to be adjusted I’ll use that info to do so. So please don’t erase it.)

Anyhow, while there’s still a few things I need to add to this blog (like email subscription functionality) and several bugs/issues that I’m still trying to work my way through, the second part to this Saudi Arabia series shouldn’t be too far behind considering that I already at least have a (very rough) first draft written.

Hope you enjoy the new blog now that it’s finally underway (torn ligament and all)!

Good to see that you are back in business!

Regarding Saudi oil peaking…I doubt that the recent decline is due to geologic limits on production, but is rather due to their agreement to cut production in order to drive the price up. Eventually prices will go up and up (absent economic collapse from other causes) and we will then see how much they can produce. Peak oil will not be confirmed until prices at record levels are still not able to increase the flow of oil.

On a more trivial note, please consider using a font that is darker than the one being used for your main post. I find the one you are using somewhat hard to read.

Yeah, there’s definitely no arguing that Saudi Arabia’s production-dip is related to production cuts. As I’ll probably briefly mention in part 2, OPEC just met in Vienna on Nov. 30th to prolong those cuts. That being said, I have my doubts whether they could ramp things up to the 12mbpd that gets touted, even if prices could go up and up (as you’ve probably read me mentioning before, I imagine that demand destruction would sooner or later curtail those ever-rising prices).

About the font, is it also the font itself or just the brightness/darkness of it? If it’s just the brightness/darkness of it I’d been thinking that myself a while ago but have so far just left it at the default that the Eston theme came with. But now that you mention it I’ve gone ahead and cranked it down a bit. To be a bit precise, the default font colour was set at #5c5c5c, and below you can see a depiction of it going (from top to bottom) from #5c5c5c to #474747 to #343434. If it’s a bit hard to decipher in the image below the site is now live with #343434. Would you say that’s dark enough?

font brightness

Edit (half an hour later): Nah, I saw the blog on a mobile and it still didn’t look dark enough, possibly due to the default font being a bit thin. I’ve now matched up the brightness/darkness of the blog font to the default brightness/darkness of the comments (#222222), which is live. How’s that now?

As well, this all means that I’ll have to darken up all the other things (the date, time-to-read, comment-count button, etc.), although I’ll get to that a bit later.

Much better on the font! Very clear and easy to read.

I am skeptical that demand destruction will precede geological limits as the cause of peak oil, but I would be delighted to be wrong. There could also be a situation where higher prices, in combination with electric vehicles, do cause enough demand destruction to make for a very long plateau, undulating or otherwise. The problem is that we need to see all carbon based fuels in rapid decline to minimize climate disruption, but they are still going up. I keep my fingers crossed for economic collapse, since that is the only proven method for a solid decline in carbon emissions. There wouldn’t be much apparent difference between the results of economic collapse and the consequences of voluntary rapid reduction in fossil fuels anyway.

Glad to hear about the improved legibility of the font, and thanks for the needed kick in the ass to actually get it done (which took all of ten or so seconds).

About demand destruction I’m wondering if we’ve got our terminology mixed up. I’m not talking about the so-called “peak oil demand” where we decouple from fossil fuels and are all shuttled around in self-driving battery-powered cars with energy sourced from “renewables”, but rather oil prices being high enough for long enough that businesses and the average Jane can’t afford them and longer, and their decreasing consumption of them is what destroys their demand. Quite possibly still an undulating plateau, although not so much because of superior tech so much as because of people going broke.

And in the long term I don’t know what economic collapse would really do for reducing fossil fuel consumption. That is, we may burn less next year of the economy collapse, but after the hiccup, and as you pointed out, their consumption level once again continues their otherwise inexorable rise. I’m failing to see any better “solution” than making sure you (and your neighbors/community) have access to seeds/crops/plants able to handle the coming rises in temperature.

I agree with your definition of “demand destruction” as opposed to “lack of demand”. I guess the way to tell which one is controlling is to look at the price. If the price is going down and people still reduce consumption, I would call it “lack of demand”. If the price is going up and people reduce consumption, that would be “demand destruction”. I misunderstood your intent.

My view of economic collapse does not foresee any recovery as after a “hiccup” or recession. I see it as severe continuous recession with no return to anywhere near current levels of GDP. The result will be mass unemployment, rapid and permanent decline in industrial capacity, including industrial food production, and widespread hunger, especially in areas where most food is consumed from commodity producers. I think it would be difficult to differentiate such a situation from one in which fossil fuel use was deliberately reduced by the 10% per year that is needed to prevent catastrophic warming. The effect on the rich-world city dweller would be very similar.

And yes, every community will need to be prepared to supply its own food, even in the face of temperature rise and all the other effects that brings about. I live on a tropical island, so temperature changes will be smaller than on continental land at higher latitudes, but I am still trying to be prepared for climate change by trying out different staple foods, some of which may work better that others in temperature and rainfall excursions.

Huh, that’s a useful way to differentiate between instances when demand is going down. I’ll remember that!

And I’m just now re-reading my comment where I mentioned both “hiccup” and “in the long term”, which makes no sense to me at all. I’ll have to remember to be careful when replying on the fly via this mobile phone where I can’t read over my reply as well and thus do a good job of organising what I’m trying to say and respond to.

To correct/clarify myself, and having re-read your comment, I see where I went wrong. When you mentioned

I keep my fingers crossed for economic collapse, since that is the only proven method for a solid decline in carbon emissions

I was thinking about the aberration where CO2 output levels dipped for that one year in 2009 or whatever it was and then went back to increasing right after, what with growth being the goal and all. So yes, to correct myself and inadvertently somewhat parallel what you’re saying, I see no other way that CO2 levels are going to be curtailed any time soon other than with a continuous collapse of the world economy. And due to the effects you mention of actually achieving a 10% reduction in CO2 production, that’s exactly why it’s not going to willingly happen.

All the best with your various staple food experiments! I’m still looking forward to starting on mine.