Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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29 May 2008

Holiday on the Moon Anyone?

At a time when it is entirely self-evident to anyone who takes an interest in these things that the Age of Cheap Oil is over, that the world is about to enter an unprecedented energy transition and that we are led by people with no idea what to do about it, I was intrigued to be given a clipping from the Daily Star which somehow embodies the depths of denial at work out there in the world. Accompanied by a wonderful, Viz-like image of a spaceman taking a stroll outside a Premier Inn on the lunar surface with the Earth in the background (see left), the article runs as follows. You’re going to enjoy this…

THIS is the view that guests will get when they check in to the first hotel to be built on the Moon.

British chain Premier Inn has bought more than 40,000 square feet of lunar land and asked designers to plan a motel.

The company announced its GBP 1m purchase yesterday and said the hotel – complete with Moon buggies, spacesuits and robot maids – will be open by 2033.

Managing director Patrick Dempsey said space holidays are becoming “more feasible” now.

And he added: “We wanted to steal a march on our rivals and be the first hotel chain to offer people comfortable and affordable lunar accommodation.”

I’ll bet you’re tempted to invest in that aren’t you? The bit I like is the “space holidays are becoming ‘more feasible’ now” bit. More feasible? Can any of you imagine anything less feasible? How could going to the moon on holiday be ‘feasible’, when we are struggling even to afford to run the lorries that sustain our present-day, just-in-time delivery systems down here on boring old Earth? Which bit do they think is ‘more feasible’? The eyewatering energy implications of such a ridiculous idea, or perhaps the rising cost of all the energy intensive materials such a daft project would entail?

It is extraordinary that at a time when what hotel chains need to be really thinking about is how to survive a major recession, how to dramatically reduce their energy dependence, how to use the amount of food they buy to support local growers and thereby incentivise the growth of the local food economy on which they will depend, how to become truly rooted in the local economy and how to perhaps even generate more power than they consume, one truly idiotic MD has so failed to read the situation around him as to come up with this idea.

I was also puzzled at which canny soul it is who pocketed the £1m for the building plot on the moon? Who is authorised to sell land on the moon and by whom? Perhaps Transition Initiatives out there struggling to find funding for their work could do very well by setting up a side-enterprise in Lunar Real Estate?

Let me make a prediction here. I know that predicting the future is very uncertain, and it is hard to really pin down future trents, but I predict here, today, that there will be no hotels on the Moon. Ever. It’s not going to happen. Mind you, I do hear that for some people, spending millions of pounds, using the last dregs of the world’s hydrocarbons, spending days in a cramped rocket flying to a barren, treeless world with no atmosphere (literally and metaphorically) might be the only thing that it will take for some people to actually take the quiet time out to sit and look at our precious planet and actually appreciate what a unique, wonderous gem we are fortunate enough to inhabit. It’s the robot maids that worry me. And talk about ‘food miles’…

With thanks to Ben for the clipping….

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


29 May 3:28pm

I agree the article is a hoot, and a perfect illustration of the denial still so much in effect.

I’m afraid there is SOME room, though, to think their insane scenario might just happen.

The ultra wealthy of the world, whom I’m fear I usually call the “toxic rich” – do not show any signs of going away. Well, not too many. Although they’re losing billions daily- they have billions more, and their mechanisms for taking our pennies are still working just fine.

All the crazy efforts to fly rich folks into space on private spacecraft- are kind of working. Private enterprise can spend the cheapest capital to achieve things, which current governments cannot. Lives. Last year several expendable workers were killed when a rocket engine being tested for Virgin Galactic exploded on the ground. It hardly even hit the news. If that happened to NASA, it would have cost 4 years of congressional hearings, 4 years of more testing, and billions of extra dollars. For private industry? Eh. Moving on.

Grim, sad, true. Cost effective.

Would it be totally insane to build a hotel for the toxic rich on the moon? It sure would.

Are the toxic rich capable of total insanity?

I wish that weren’t a rhetorical question.

John Marshall
29 May 5:40pm

Perhaps we should purchase an area of the moon to grow “local” food. This would enable hoteliers to reduce their food miles……

James Samuel
29 May 5:47pm

Ahh, it is good to keep one’s sense of humour, while throwing in a good strong dose of “Oy! Wake Up!” into communications. Well done on the balance of those two. 🙂

Steve Atkins
29 May 7:05pm

To clear things up here – I own the moon (I picked it up on ebay).
If anyone wants a piece of it please contact my secretary cuz I’m way too busy growing vegetables.

If you would like to visit my moon and are worried about the peak oil travel costs, hitch a lift on the back of a cow.

x steve

Mark Forskitt
30 May 5:03am

Rob, there is a very serious question in that piece – who owns the moon anyway? In fact who owns the earth. We used to have common land. Just today on the radio I heard a group has used ariel photography to prove one of the tribes that shun outside contact is the. The brazilian government were denying it so they could sell logging rights.

As far back as feudal times and perhaps further those with power (armour and a horse) have taken land by force and then invented laws to keep it. It need a whole sales reversal to set up a patchwork of small holdings if we are to seriouls localise food production.

30 May 8:55am

PR Fluffery!!

Premier Inns will never build such a hotel. They have however bought a lot of cheap publicity and PR with their supposed Moon Hotel Plans. They say £1million – hah!

1 Acre (43560 square feet) for around £15 plus shipping (ha ha- I’d like to see the Ryal Mail deliver that one.)

30 May 11:23am

I think whoever stumped up the £1m should have read this first …

“The prohibition of national appropriation [of outer space and celestial bodies] … precludes the application of any national legislation on a territorial basis to validate a ‘private claim’. Hence, it is not sufficient for sellers of lunar deeds to point to national law, or the silence of national authorities, to justify their ostensible claims. The sellers of such deeds are unable to acquire legal title to their claims. Accordingly, the deeds they sell have no legal value or significance, and convey no recognized rights whatsoever.”

Graham Burnett
30 May 8:01pm

I thought the drawing was more reminiscent of a Frank Hampson illustration from a 1950’s ‘Eagle’ than Viz, which surely would have featured the spaceman burping, farting, making double entendres or drinking ‘Newkie Brown’ (or Ace lager…)

Tim Thomson
30 May 9:37pm

Didn’t you know? The moon is a Transition Sattelite!

31 May 12:15am

Rob and everybody – alas, it’s like a virus! here’s another boonswoggle –

They’re swearing the answer for India is “solar satellites”, beaming the power to earth.

Apart from the fact that every analysis ever done has shown that it would be just jaw-droppingly expensive- there are still two problems.

One is- hey, you’re increasing the heat load on Earth, which we don’t really need. To heck with the carbon, let’s just go straight to heat pollution!

And- they will “beam” it back with a “maser” – the microwave version of a laser.

Ok. So this beam is hitting the receiver on the ground… until-! you have a computer glitch, or the watch-team gets drunk- and the beam starts to wander- frying everything it hits. Death ray, forsooth. Ok, not often- but once is probably more than enough- and given time; it would happen.

SUCH a good idea! SUCH a great use of resources! 🙂

andy smith
2 Jun 12:41pm

google lunar real estate, theres lots of people doing it, try this one,
but as i own the darkside of the moon, my dad gave it to me years ago, I hereby donate it to the transition cause to sell.

james piers taylor
3 Jun 12:08pm

This reminds me of thoughts I had a couple of years ago when I realised that the profligate use of Earth resources meant that humanity would likely never physically explore the universe (or even our own solar system. All of a sudden, millions of the speculations of science fiction which had engaged my teenage mind died. When more recently I first encountered the “fermi paradox”, some sense of this deepened.

I have not read Kevin Scott Polk’s book “Gaiome: Notes on Ecology, Space Travel and Becoming Cosmic Species” – has anyone else? I’d love to see a review from an energy descent perspective?

I’m really more interested these days in “life on earth” than “life on mars” (Although Bowie and Attenborough are both still heroes for more than one day). I wonder though whether humanity was Gaia’s shot at seeding Gaian consciousness off Terra, and we (the human system within Gaia) blew it.

That’s perhaps a little too anthropcentric. Perhaps humans and life like us are just some of the universe’s pioneer species and cosmic succession will later lead to other seres – climax galaxies?

Graham Burnett
3 Jun 3:33pm

On that note, I notice that Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red mars, Green Mars, Blue mars, about the colonisation and subsequent terrforming of said planet, seems to have become the latest ‘must read’ book in permaculture circles. Andy Goldring lent me his copy, but i must confess i got bored about halfway through the first book… Too much technial detail and minutiae and not enough pictures for my woefully short attention span, but the premise of the book was very interesting…

3 Jun 5:05pm

Reminds me of a comment I read on some book’s dust jacket: “I became an anarchist because I couldn’t be an astronaut.” I’ll second that.

Graham, yes, the Mars trilogy is really heavy going and full of techno-babble. I recommend his novel “Antarctica” which is shorter, set in the nearer future, on planet earth, in… well, you can guess where. A great permaculture novel, IMHO.

I especially love his metaphor for the near future, of Shackleton’s miraculous rescue of his entire expedition by crossing the Southern Ocean in an open boat, navigating to South Georgia and getting across the uncharted mountains to a Norwegian whaling station… inspiring stuff.

Josef Davies-Coates
7 Jun 1:21am

Very interesting to hear from Graham that KSR’s Mars Trilogy is becoming a must read in permaculture circles.

I’ve just finished reading Red Mars (the first in the series) and really enjoyed most of it (although it does have too much techno detail its easy to skim those bits if they get too much).

A couple of my good friends were both totally inspired by the Mars Trilogy (“Espian” Tav, and OSB Marketing Manager at solarcentury).

Something I recently discovered is that KSR lives at Village Homes in Davis, California.

This made me smile because it meant that, indirectly, me and my friends were all inspired by the same thing: reading about Village Homes in chapter 5 of Natural Capitalism was what first got me into ecovillages 🙂

Anyway, Rob, are you sure this isn’t just a joke like story like your Slug Story? In this case generating lots of free press!

And does the end of the Age of Cheap Oil necessarily mean the end of Cheap Energy?

Isn’t Concentrated Solar Power not a proven technology for scalable renewable energy generation?

Sure, reconfiguring the whole economy for a world without cheap oil won’t be easy (a lot of new infrastructure will needed), but surely it can be done?

Whatever happened to your going on a nice holiday analogy?



Danny Bloom
8 Jun 2:37am


Two things: first, great post, humorous, yes.

  1. i think this was just a PR hustle for the hotel chain, i mean they don’t seriously plan this hotel on moon, it is just PR to drum up business for their hotel chain on earth now, it’s about using PR to make money here and now. But a good hoot of a silly story. SIGH.

  2. but since you like that photo, i wonder if you can blog one day, and use one image from my website of polar cities, to do a humorous blog on polar cities, why you might think this is another stupid useless idea, a stupid fire exit of an idea, or maybe, an idea that resonates with you, NOt for use now, but for maybe in the future, 500 years down the road? Can you blog on this yes or no? I fear you might be in denial about polar cities…..can you answer me yes or no? None of my emails seem to get through to you…

i am at

danbloom GMAIL

door always open 24- 7

Danny Bloom
8 Jun 2:40am

The New York Times did a post on polar cities here: Take a look. These come way after transition towns, an idea who time has come, transition towns that is. a great idea. i applaud you and support you. But after transition towns, there will come polar towns, and that’s 30 more generations down the road. Of course, nobody wants to listen to me, except for a few people here and there. You? Do you “get” what I am doing with polar cities? I think you don’t really care….