I was feeling so despondent and afraid still after watching A Crude Awakening. Concerned for my immediate and extended family, concerned for friends and for the community and wider world too. Even if things don’t suddenly snap into a major crisis, I truly believe that the way of life we are used to NEEDS to change. Large cities with large houses and little land is just not going to be sustainable in a world where fuel costs so much. My brain was flipping from “it will be ok” through to sheer panic and back. It’s been unsettling to say the least. And it’s made me very impatient for our move.
So, last night I watched Power of Community; How Cuba survived Peak Oil. Cuba faced a trial run so to speak of the Peak Oil crisis when the Former Soviet Union collapsed. Cubans were heavily reliant on oil imports and they stopped dead. The economy spiralled into recession within months, food became scarce and fuel even more so. It was sink or swim time. Food rationing was put in place, every available scrap of land was put to use to grow food and people had to till the land by hand as parts and fuel for tractors did not exist. Overnight, the humble farmer became king. And people learned by trial and error. Chemical based pesticides and fertilisers were unavailable so organic practices were sought. Things began to improve. Now, the majority of Cuban crops are organic, farms have shrunk down to a size that can be managed by a family tilling by oxen, power is mostly through sustainable means such as solar and wind and the people there have learned to do with less.
I must admit it all seems a bit too easy but I imagine that during “the special period” as it is known, things would have been terribly tough. Rolling blackouts for long amounts of time, unreliable power making food storage risky, unreliable food sources, uncertain transport and having to learn the hard way day after day would have made for a rough ride for most people, particularly city dwellers. However, from what was shown on the film, Cubans now have a much healthier life. Bicycles were imported to provide transport options and fresh fruit and vegetables for food has helped lower the risk of heart attack and incidence of diabetes, decentralisation of everything has meant the opening up of 47 more universities and a greatly increased sense of community has grown.
Watching this has given me hope. I know that the tough times are still coming but having seem proof of a thriving lifestyle after peak oil I know we will make it through.