The Cuban “Experiment” With Peak Oil


Cuba’s oil imports dwindled from 13mill barrels to 4mill quite dramatically, and in a few weeks, life across the country started to change.

Notes I picked up as I watched the video. There’s many lessons in this for all of us – and that we’ll need in the years ahead. Its a good watch, and in a way, thank god it happened!

  1. automobile stop as the fuel runs out
  2. longer and longer power cuts
  3. money becomes less and less useful
  4. fuel based transport became tough – cycles started replacing it
  5. water became hand carried
  6. taller buildings were worse off
  7. agriculture was heavily mechanized – suffered initially  – food availability drops – malnutrition, hunger followed
  8. local/urban agriculture became important
  9. land use was rethought – to grow food everywhere, nearby and co-operatively
  10. farming became attractive/respected/remunerative again
  11. dependence on oil based fertilizers/pesticides reduced
  12. the nation learned about farming, soil, natural cycles, vermi-composting, organic farming
  13. more hands were needed, more people employed and fed
  14. animal husbandry was rediscovered
  15. smaller – farms, earnings, needs, expenses – eventually more benefits!
  16. food forest, not farm – intercropping, less irrigation
  17. high degree of not just (smaller) privatization, but autonomy as well
  18. land ownership and rights/usage/produce was separated. Land rights guaranteed.
  19. land leased for specific purpose, produce not taxed.
  20. small private farms had the highest yield per acre
  21. co-operative credit
  22. volunteerism for social needs – education etc
  23. local, decentralized education, universities – community interest in their own education
  24. medical services spread everywhere – in the meighbourhood
  25. overall health improved!
  26. consumption reduced
  27. medical education has oversupply – use it to trade with the world!!
  28. public transport, carpooling, bicycles become common
  29. cement production reduced – yet 85% own a house and everyone has a place to live!
  30. simpler houses, open space in rural landscapes
  31. mixed use spaces in every neighbourhood – walk/cycle more
  32. small scale solar/wind power for homes, schools, etc
  33. “energy engineer”, “energy analyst”, “bio-climatic” architect – new jobs/occupations!
  34. 30% of energy comes from bio-mass
  35. Cubans understand economic, energy and political independence, and the idea of “need/use less”
  36. “Our way of life went beyond what the sun could sustain as it had done for millions of years”
  37. scientists, economists, politicians, experts – all the “them” aren’t going to solve it – “we” have to
  38. more friendship, more love, one world for us all

One difference – Cuba still had the “regular” world outside to get some oil, expertise from. And the government  did not break down completely and there was no anarchy.

We may have less luck than that, and the human spirit will be tested more.


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