Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pacman in the Desert

As everyone knows, the world isn't making anymore oil. We may never "run out," but supply will eventually dwindle to the point that widespread use won't be feasible. Its a question of "when" not "if." The same goes for natural gas, coal, and anything else that we dig out of the ground and burn by the trillions of tonnes.

The discussion in North America over this has been fueled (haha) partly by environmentalism, but also by paranoia. The world's largest proven reserves of oil are on the Arabian peninsula, especially in the part ruled by those odious Saudis. While I despise them for their self-serving perversion of religion, disregard for human rights, and intolerable kowtowing to their great protector Uncle Sam, the feeling amongst populist politicians in the West seems to be that they don't kowtow enough.

I used to wonder what the Saudis would do when their oil ran out. They've a population of 20 million surviving in the desert. How would they import food without the foreign revenues?

Someone over there has evidently had some brains. This is a highway outside Riyadh. The green circles are irrigated fields. You can look closer just by zooming in on Google Maps, where I got that shot.

All is not peachy, however. 70% of the kingdom's potable water comes from desalination. How do you desalinate water? You heat it up. And what do you suppose the Saudis are using to heat it? Not oil, but natural gas, which they have lots of, but wisely do not export (even I am willing to give them this much credit).

Like I said, though, it will all eventually run out. Back in the 1980s, Saudi Aramco's magazine engaged in some self-congratulatory musing about how they would just switch to solar energy production and continue merrily along. After all, what does the peninsula have, if not an inexhaustible supply of sunshine?

After all, how did that desert get so darn hot to begin with? Hmm . . . I wonder if it will get hotter . . .

Ironic, isn't it? The same fuels that are making that desert bloom may also one day make it wither. They're going to need to drink plenty of fluids.

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Kelly said...

I find this somewhat embarrassing to say, but I really liked this blog because I understood and agreed with all the major concepts. I think. A rare occurrence in your blog world, understanding a whole blog! Maybe a few years down the line I'll remotely understand even 50% of what you're talking about.

The Proud Islamist said...

Oh, even I don't understand half of it sometimes. That's the subject of another post I've been planning.

Now if you understood and DISagreed, we could really have some fun.