What's an EnergyArk? (v1: 7th July 2009)

Version 1-- 7th July 2009
(This is of course a key question, of what positive solutions are being proposed and organised here. And the answers are likely to be evolving ones. For that reason I envisage to be updating this particular post into newer versions rather than just freezing it in the first version that emerges. Besides sending replies to this post, you are welcome to email suggestions or critiques "offline" to blog[at]energyark[dot]net .)

The central idea of an energyark is that we may not be able to prevent major social and economic upheavals in an unplanned progression of energy descent. The article on this site "Will there be an abrupt collapse?" discusses how this might come about. There may be failures of food supply, law and order, and so on. It may be difficult for people to survive through such circumstances let alone work on needed changes. Especially in or near larger cities.

For this reason, it may be wise to prepare "lifeboats" or "energyarks" to relocate to. A key idea is relocation (rather than the relocalisation being promoted by the Transition (Towns) movement). A few people may already be resident in suitable relocation areas, but most will not. And others have already wisely pointed out that it may be unwise to invest all one's hopes in a particular location. One may need to be ready to adopt a travelling lifestyle, or alternatively move from one ark to another as needs dictate or suggest. Ideally there will be a network of arks rather than just one.

A suitable location and its community should satisfy the requirements of resilience against energy descent. Some conditions, requirements and resources would be as follows.
  • Sufficiently remote from large urban settlements
  • Land and weather suitable for food-growing
  • A natural water supply, including sufficient for irrigation
  • Not particularly vulnerable to attack but preferably in a defensible location
  • A community of people ideally in the range of 100-300
  • Members who have a cooperative mentality rather than grasping or parasiting
  • A diversity of people rather than just rich or intellectual ones
  • A collection of key skills
  • Hand tools
  • Reserves or supplies of key products

There already exist some projects which satisfy some or all of these criteria.

Energyark members could come from a variety of situations. They may already be living in suitable relocation areas (in which case their support would be particularly welcome). Or may be very unsuitably located such as in a city centre. Or equally unsuitably in a commuter-dormitory village, devoid of far too many key local resources. Or a farmer in a location which like that village lacks some resilence requirements despite its ruralness.

(to be continued)


  1. I'm curious which projects you think satisfy these criteria already?

  2. I'm not satisfied that there are any projects which fully satisfy that list. There is one in Portugal and another in Mexico, but in both cases they appear to be too questionably close to existing towns and also invite to membership only people to immigrate to buy property which could result in a shortage of "working-class" people. "Middle-class" people might perhaps be less enduring and overcome with tedium if they have to work at manual activities for huge amounts of time.

  3. Um,... where in Portugal? If your not at liberty to say where exactly, then maybe just where about.

  4. It's not that I'm not at liberty to say. Just that it may be wise to be discreet about details of energyark-type projects. Websites such as this can be read by anyone and everyone anywhere, and some readers may be not interested in joining but only interested in coming along someday to rob, parasitise or otherwise abuse us. My email address is on this page (above right if you couldn't find it here before). An energyark can't work by website alone!

  5. Strangely enough, I already live in a place that meets all the criteria. That's good - I won't need to relocate!

  6. Congratulations John. I guess some conscious and or unconscious wisdom has contributed to that situation. One thing I'm wondering is the nature of the other people in the local community -- how "peak-aware", prepared, skilled etc they are. And how it compares with just about any small village in the uk, where most of the residents would be commuters or depending on the tourist industry as guesthouses etc.

  7. Not in the UK I'm afraid! See my blogger profile for more info.

    I got out of the system six years ago now and have a couple of acres in Spain. At the time I didn't even know about peak oil - but I was definitely uneasy about the long-term economic viability of the UK.

    I rarely go back to the UK nowadays but when I do it's like Groundhog Day! The same people are sat at the same bar-stools complaining about the same things as they were before I left. I normally get comments like "it's alright for you" as If I'd won a lottery or something. The option to change is open to all as far as I am concerned - if you are really determined.

    In a way I suppose I have kind of won a lottery. Today, myself and my wife have far more practical skills than we ever had before. Additionally, we are part of a community which industrialisation has pretty much bi-passed. Without cars and electricity, this area is only going back 50 years. And up until then it had supported itself for centuries.

  8. Robin,

    Yes there are tourists passing by (hikers, horse-riders, mountain-bikers). There are even coach trips around the area as it was the last bastion of the Moors in Spain and still has the look about it. But most of the locals have little dealings with it.

    As for "peak-aware" then most don't have a car so it's a bit like asking whether you are "mule-aware".

  9. I think your last three sentences are key considerations. I just wonder if global warming will cause the Sahara to extend north of the Med--but in any case within a few years there can be expected to be much reduced population further north such that a secondary relocation would not be quite so difficult. You might want to check out Monbiot's article this week about the idea that global warming might be delayed by a decade or two of cooling, and reckon plans accordingly!

    "Mule-aware"....I hope to team up sometime with others who have that qualification. Of course a rural uk household without a car is all but unthinkable.

  10. Just in case anyone thinks I may be be being a little flippant about this see here or here

  11. Weather warning: temperatures may go up as well as down. You may lose your home if you are unable to keep up with the temperature :o) I'm at 900m, the Sierra Nevada above me is at 3,000m. Nothing is guaranteed I suppose.