Thursday, September 3, 2009

Review: The Power Of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

This movie is very popular among the Transition movement as it is essentially a blueprint for the Transition message. Transition wants us to recognize the twin dangers of Peak Oil and Climate Change, and take steps to increase resilience in our society. The message of the movie is that Cuba already went through this transformation. While their crisis came due to artificially imposed conditions, they did suddenly have to undergo a drastic powerdown and reshaping of their society.

The context is the Cold War struggles between the U.S. and the Soviet Union played out in a small country off the coast of Florida. Cuba was the Soviet Union's main presence on the doorstep of America, and when the Soviet Union collapsed they could no longer afford to continue funding Cuba, and they pulled out. Cuba had adopted the "Green Revolution" system of agriculture with petrochemical based fertilizers and fossil oil fueled tractors and high energy use, just like other modern countries. But when the Soviet Union left so did their access to fossil fuel. The U.S. imposed sanction after sanction in an effort to squeeze the Cuban government in a modern sort of siege warfare. This simply made Cuba's situation more dire. There were food shortages and most people lost 20 lbs or more during the period.

I suppose the powers that be expected Cuba to collapse and beg for mercy. What happened instead was a reinvention of their society, and the development of localized resources especially for food. There was a mass adoption of Permaculture and Organic agriculture, of urban farming, and much more.

The movie makes Cuba out to be an agrarian paradise and a miracle. It describes Cuba as an object lesson from which the rest of the world could learn important lessons.

Of course the powers that be in the U.S. doesn't want Cuba to be portrayed as anything but a poor land held in the grasp of an insane dictator ..blah blah blah blah.. There are travel restrictions, economic restrictions, and more which keep Americans from easily traveling to Cuba and seeing how they really live.