The Power of Community:  How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

If you haven’t see this documentary, get it on your list.  The film was directed by Faith Morgan and released by The Community Solution in 2006.  It is very inspirational, and it is a great guide to navigating collapse.  Believe me, we are going to need it because the collapse is starting to rear its ugly head big time and will only accelerate.

Back in 1991 when the Soviet Union was falling apart, Cuba lost oil imports from them.  There was no shooting and chaos because of it, as many here in the US fear will take place when collapse happens.  Instead, the power of community shone brightly, and everyone came together.  Without oil, the country stopped.  Buses ran intermittently.  They said the average Cuban lost 20 lbs.  Eventually, everyone was growing food everywhere.  Oxen were used to plow fields.  Very little fertilizers or pesticides were used if any.  I highly recommend watching it.

A little note here about the reference to peak oil in the title of the documentary for people who are not familiar with that term.  Peak oil is when a country or globally the half way point of oil is reached.  The US reached peak oil in the 1970s.  Well, then, horizontal fracking was invented, and the oil that was unreachable was extracted.  I ran into a site on the history of oil, and the US stopped exporting oil when it reached peak oil to protect reserves.  That lasted for 40 years until fracking came along. 

A big oil boom happened around 2005 or so.  Back then, everyone was moving to North Dakota to get an oil job at the Bakken Oil field.  Fracking for natural gas happens in many states but there are about only four major oil fields in the US that use fracking.  Michael Patrick Flanagan Smith wrote a great article on what that oil boom was like when he worked there from 2013 to 2014.  People were living in their cars because the town had no place to house everyone.  The peak oil term got kicked down the field because everyone thinks we will always find ways to extract more oil, even though we can’t afford to burn another drop.  Since then, those oil fields are running dry. 

I always say, if they are spending money to extract oil from Alberta tar sands, which is gunk, the end of oil is not far away.  And, as Cuba witnessed, oil runs everything.

While Cuba had no warning that crisis was coming, the climate crisis alarm has been blaring finally for the last three years.  Countries have been coming together since 1992 to address the climate crisis but it really didn’t hit center stage until Greta Thunberg showed up shortly before COVID lambasting world leaders at the COP24 meeting in Poland in December 2018 for doing nothing.  Just listening to her again in the link below brought tears to my eyes.

The climate crisis has moved at a snail’s pace.  So where is the urgency?  Well, things are starting to ramp up.  

I am wondering if there are any more forests in the US left to burn?  Every season millions of acres go up in smoke.  Because of drought, the Danube River in Germany was so low this summer that they couldn’t use it for exporting goods.  China closed factories this past summer because of drought and heat.  The Colorado River in the Southwest US is in the 23rd year of a major drought.  Seven states depend on water from the Colorado, and 70% of it is used for agriculture.  Farmers are letting fields go fallow because a lack of irrigation.  Places like Portland and Denver that don’t normally get summer temperatures in the 90s and 100 got hit again this summer.  Hurricane Ian slammed Florida.  These are just a sampling of how the climate crisis is playing out.  There are countless other examples worldwide, of course.

Where does this leave us?  What does this film tell us?  What can we do?

It is clear that the US and other countries are hell bent on squeezing the last dollar from the economy and pillaging the resources until the planet is ravaged of the last thriving ecosystem.  The CEOs and politicians will be safely tucked away in elaborate bunkers stocked to the hilt to watch us fend for ourselves knowing they have sold us enough misinformation, fear, and guns.

Hmmm.  Perhaps the power of community that Cuba exhibited will radiantly emerge.

We can hope.

The Power of Community:  How Cuba Survived Peak Oil,the%20Soviet%20Union%20in%201991

Greta Thunberg speaks at COP24 Poland December 2018

Smith, Michael Patrick Flanagan, “I joined the oil rush to an American boomtown.  Guess who got rich?” June 6, 2021, The Guardian

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