Forget 1984…. 2020 is the apocalypse year

26 01 2017

The crescendo of news pointing to 2020 as the date to watch is growing apace…. it won’t be the year collapse happens, because collapse is a process, not an event; but it will definitely be the year this process starts to become obvious. To people other than followers of this blog at least…!

RIYADH, Saudi ArabiaAccording to the International Monetary Fund, Saudi Arabia’s economy is in danger of collapse as oil prices grow increasingly unstable.

The warning appeared in the “Regional Economic Outlook” for the Middle East and Central Asia published on Oct. 15, an annual report published by IMF economists. Adam Leyland, writing on Oct. 23 for The Independent, explained the grim prognosis for Saudi’s economy, which is almost completely dependent on fossil fuels:

“[T]he IMF said that the kingdom will suffer a negative 21.6 per cent ‘General Government Overall Fiscal Balance’ in 2015 and a 19.4 per cent negative balance in 2016, a massive increase from only -3.4 per cent in 2014.

Saudi Arabia currently has $654.5 billion in foreign reserves, but the cash is disappearing quickly.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency has withdrawn $70 billion in funds managed by overseas financial institutions, and has lost almost $73 billion since oil prices slumped, according to Al-Jazeera. Saudi Arabia generates 90 per cent of its income from oil.”


Tax-free living will soon be a thing of the past for Saudis after its cabinet on Monday approved an IMF-backed value-added tax to be imposed across the Gulf following an oil slump.

A 5% levy will apply to certain goods following an agreement with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council in June last year.

Residents of the energy-rich region had long enjoyed a tax-free and heavily subsidised existence but the collapse in crude prices since 2014 sparked cutbacks and a search for new revenue.

Author Dr Nafeez Ahmed, a Visiting Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute, is making even more waves today, saying………:

“Syria and Yemen demonstrate how climate and energy crises work together to undermine state power and fuel terrorism. 

“Climate-induced droughts ravage agriculture, swell the ranks of the unemployed and destroy livelihoods.  Domestic oil depletion undercuts state revenues, weakening the capacity to sustain domestic subsidies for fuel and food.  As the state is unable to cope with the needs of an increasingly impoverished population, this leads to civil unrest and possibly radicalisation and terrorism. 

“These underlying processes are not isolated to Syria and Yemen.  Without a change of course, the danger is that eventually they will occur inside the US and Europe.”

Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence, authored by Dr Nafeez Ahmed, published by Springer Briefs in Energy includes the following key points…:
  • Global net energy decline is the underlying cause of the decline in the rate of global economic growth.  In the short term, slow or absent growth in Europe and the US is complicit in voter discontent and the success of anti-establishment politicians. 
  • Europe is now a post-peak oil society, with its domestic oil production declining every year since 1999 by 6%.  Shale oil and gas is unlikely to offset this decline. 
  • Europe’s main sources of oil imports are in decline. Former Soviet Union producers, their production already in the negative, are likely to terminate exports by 2030.  Russia’s oil production is plateauing and likely to decline after 2030 at the latest. 
  • In the US, conventional oil has already peaked and is in sharp decline.  The shortfall is being made up by unconventional sources such as tight oil and shale gas, which are likely to peak by 2025. California will continue to experience extensive drought over the coming decades, permanently damaging US agriculture.
  • Between 2020 and 2035, the US and Mexico could experience unprecedented military tensions as the latter rapidly runs down its conventional oil reserves, which peaked in 2006. By 2020, its exports will revert to zero, decimating Mexican state revenues and potentially provoking state failure shortly thereafter.
  • After 2025, Iraq is unlikely to survive as a single state.  The country is experiencing worsening water scarcity, fueling an ongoing agricultural crisis, while its oil production is plateauing due to a combination of mounting costs of production and geopolitical factors.
  • Saudi Arabia will face a ‘perfect storm’ of energy, food and economic shocks most likely before 2030, and certainly within the next 20 years.
  • Egypt will begin to experience further outbreaks of civil unrest leading to escalating state failure after 2021.  Egypt will likely become a fully failed state after 2037.
  • India’s hopes to become a major economic player will falter due to looming food, water and energy crises.  India’s maximum potential domestic renewable energy capacity is insufficient to meet projected demand growth.
  • China’s total oil production is likely to peak in 2020.  Its rate of economic growth is expected to fall continuously in coming decades, while climate change will damage its domestic agriculture, forcing it to rely increasingly on expensive imports by 2022.

I wish Julian Simon could read this….. it seems all our limits to growth chickens are coming home to roost, and very soon now.



13 responses

26 01 2017

“Collapse is a process not an event” Got to disagree, previous collapses may have been a process but ours will be an event. Never has any society been so global, so completely interrelated and so very complex and with near zero resilience.

The numbers tell us the limits, the latest, collapse happens. The actual event could be anytime. Just the wider realization of the inevitability of collapse could be its trigger. Everything relies on finance, no finance – no trade. Finance relies on trust in the currency, no trust- it all stops. Most of our transactions are electronic, reliant upon a complex set of systems any tiny little glitch that lasts more than a few hours could be our undoing.

Collapse of the Western World will be an event. From the smallest glitch to total chaos within weeks. Catastrophic, cascading, failure. Collapse will be timed to an hour of a day, not dated to a decade or even a year.

26 01 2017

I don’t think we will make it to 2020, it is so close you can taste it.

26 01 2017

I agree. We’ve already been in punctuated collapse for awhile, only propped up by raiding the pantry and the spending of borrowed money. The next crisis will be existential and systemic, resulting in a fast, total discontinuity in human affairs. It won’t be pretty, for anybody.

26 01 2017
Brendon Crook

“I don’t think we will make it to 2020, it is so close you can taste it.”

I too feel this in my bones. It feels like the roller coaster’s gaining speed & like you’ve siad on “Our Finite World” psile, You don’t want to be within 500 km of a major city when this lot lets go.

26 01 2017

I sometimes try to fit the scale of the forthcoming collapse into my head, but it won’t fit.

27 01 2017

Brendan, I think in OZ 200km will be a safe distance for most. By the time people work it out fuel will be in short supply and most can not walk 100km let alone rough it for 300-400km.

Unfortunately that means away from the coast on the east side.

27 01 2017

I think if you head inland from the coast you should be ok, for the moment. My strategy is to hire a couple of 4WD’s. Stock 1 with supplies, the other with family and hit the road when it becomes obvious that something big has happened. I think we should have a couple of days to get our acts together before most folks realise that things are not going to come back in a hurry, if ever. And most people only have around 1/2 a tank of fuel in their tanks. Besides they won’t get far anyway before the first checkpoint, mugging, pile-up stops them in their tracks, as they would have left it too late.

27 01 2017
Brendon Crook

“I think if you head inland from the coast you should be ok, for the moment”.

I’ve got a place out on the Western Downs & been building up a relationship with the locals, even though it is mostly redneck country. I’m going back there in a weeks time. Some of those people are pretty self sufficient & resilient but it’s all a new world when this one lets go……………………………..Climate change will do it in over time but I’d hate to be stuck here in Melbourne as this unravels……………………….

4 02 2017

psile, do you mean when you think it is about to happen you are going to rent a couple of 4x4s?
If so timing would be everything.
If on the other hand you are hiring long term that makes sense.

Just make sure that the vehicles do not get called back by the hire company the day before you plan to leave or the trip could be a short one as you get stopped for failure to return the vehicles when asked.

Do you have a place to go to sorted out yet? Turning up somewhere in a collapse where you are not wanted could be a problem.

5 02 2017

Hi Mark, the idea is that once another “Lehman Bros” type event so thoroughly takes over popular thought, as it did back in 2008, then it’s time to put the plan into place.

If the anticipated collapse didn’t eventuate after say 2 weeks, then you would square-up and carry on BAU, until the next inevitable, and profounder, crisis. I have my own business, so there’s no one to answer to, except some disgruntled clients. Boo hoo*

Yes, I have a marshalling area figured out.

26 01 2017
Linda Hoganson

This news and information give me much relief from the daily horrors of our USA politics. 8-/

26 01 2017

The end of the Anthropocene is nigh!

The triumph of our species cognitive flexibility in adapting the environment to our wants has resulted in the Anthropocene Epoch. The tragedy of our species is Hubris. It’s led to a fatal cognitive inflexibility in distinguishing wants from needs. We think we have conquered nature. We haven’t.

In the 1970’s The Club of Rome and others mapped out humanity’s future if we failed to adapt to the planet and its ecosystem’s needs and capacities. A critical tipping point was forecast for around 2015.

Lovelock re-personified Gaia, the Earth, as embodying an incredibly complex interdependent self-regulating systems that maintained the “Goldilocks” stasis of Earth’s Holocene epoch.

The Anthropocene will prove the shortest epoch. It has brought The Sixth Great Extinction. The dominant species bestriding the Earth will once more be reduced to remnants. Only this time we brought it on ourselves.

Now its crunch time. We can’t say we didn’t know. Blind Hubris and wilful ignorance will continue right up to the moment of blind panic and Nemesis.

31 01 2017

It is a process. It’s been happening since we peaked around 1970. It will become an event when the process slips over the cliff.

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