August 07, 2005

Letter to the Paper ILIX

I just posted this to Winds of Change on a thread proclaiming gloom and doom regarding Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia may very well be as corrupt as advertised. In fact, it likely is. That doesn't mean that we're up a creek without a paddle.

Since the article was published in the Atlantic in 2003, Fahd has died, and the Crown Prince is now king. The succession went smoothly and the new king will be given some time by even the most radical of the royal family's enemies to see whether his more austere personal style will translate into changes that they want in whatever direction they are pushing things to move. While that goes on, quietly, quietly, the West prepares for the hydrogen age. This will not be an age where the oil sheiks are left penniless. It will, however be one where they do not have the same stranglehold on the world economy. My comment on the thread is below.

The effect on the US economy of a Saudi shutoff is less devastating this year than last and will be less devastating still next year. The reason for this is that the cost for the next energy system, in the form of hydrogen fuel cells and the multiple feedstocks that will provide that hydrogen (including, but not limited to natural gas and oil) is becoming cheaper and more practical by the year. 2010 is the best guess at which point the two systems (fuel cell and petroleum burning internal combustion engines) will hit parity at which time, we'll be weaning ourselves off the oil age and into the hydrogen age.

A saudi collapse would still hurt, but it would be less painful every year thereafter because a large number of new sources of energy would be coming on line that are now wasted because the energy you get out of them doesn't justify a separate infrastructure of different engines to burn each of these sources. With fuel cells, they all feed into the same energy carrier, the fuel cell which powers electric motors.

The key points are not to panic, not to cause a panic, and to put off the day of Saudi reckoning until new technology shrinks Saudi importance to the point where we can survive the shock without major disruption of our way of life. I'd give us good odds of doing so.

Posted by TMLutas at August 7, 2005 08:07 PM