Relocalization—A Primary Solution for the Energy Peak


To effectively address energy scarcity and curtail biosphere destruction, relocalization must occur globally and with some degree of integration. Essentially, human civilization needs to prepare itself to do with less energy, fewer natural resources, and fewer material goods, with the ultimate goal of being able to live within a reduced planetary carrying capacity. Any other approach will lead to a form of assisted suicide—with nature doing the assisting.

It is urgent that localization begin now. Yet how many times have we heard and ignored such urgent calls? Everything still seems to be going all right—at least for those in control of the economy and the media—but hitting the energy peak will change that.

The energy peak will affect the heaviest energy users the most. At first they will use their control of the money system to stave off disaster, but that will not last long. If the US suffers a severe enough dollar crisis, it will find itself catastrophically exposed as the world’s largest energy importer and will be vulnerable to the desires of the energy exporters, all of whom will have reason enough to bring the reign of American economic empire to an end. The US military has presumably understood this, and they may not be willing to stand by and be emasculated by energy and economic constrictions.

Relocalization Must Start Now

If the global oil peak happens within two years—as is predicted by a growing number of energy analysts—then we must start taking measures to rebuild our communities now. This is quite a different kind of urgency from the usual calls to save the planet, or the koalas, or the Yangtze, all of which are in deep trouble but none of whom directly affects most of us in our insulated, industrial worlds. This is a plan to save us—and the rest of the creatures in the biosphere along with us.

There is another reason for urgency. There is a trend towards fewer family farms and the continuing loss of infrastructure, knowledge, and wisdom about local, sustainable living techniques. Thus, there are ever fewer working examples and models that can be applied to a given locale. To fill the void, communities must begin localization experiments to discover what works and what does not work in a given locale. This knowledge must be gained before the crisis. If experiments fail now, they can at least be counted as useful information. If they fail later, in conditions of crisis, people are likely to suffer grievously.

More broadly, to save precious time and resources, communities will need to share experiments, outcomes, and lessons learned. Communities will also need to integrate the experience and knowledge developed by existing organizations and individuals working on localization at both the policy and community levels, including scientific research that supports localization efforts and the practices of indigenous peoples (those that have not yet been wiped out by empire and its latest incarnation, globalization).

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