Film Reflection: The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

For context, here is a summary of the film from IMDb:

The documentary, “The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil,” was inspired when Faith Morgan and Pat Murphy took a trip to Cuba through Global Exchange in August, 2003. That year Pat had begun studying and speaking about worldwide peak oil production. In May Pat and Faith attended the second meeting of The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, a European group of oil geologists and scientists, which predicted that mankind was perilously close to having used up half of the world’s oil resources. When they learned that Cuba underwent the loss of over half of its oil imports and survived, after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, the couple wanted to see for themselves how Cuba had done this.

Question: Is this the severe crisis that will cause the human population to make a significant change in regards to dealing with the environment? Do you see Peak Oil as a coming crisis we will face?

(film below)

By definition, finite resources must eventually be depleted if they are continuously used. Considering our wide reaching dependence on oil, and reluctance to adopt renewable forms of energy, I think it is clear that peak oil is a coming crisis. It is not clear however if this is the crisis that will cause a dramatic shift in the way that humans deal with the environment. There are already signs of changes, but it seems that only inasmuch as they allow oil to eventually be replaced with some other source of energy. The mindset and attitudes toward the environment, at least in contemporary western society, seem to be one of addiction and exploitation; one of forcing nature to our desires for security and luxury rather than adapting our methods to the natural processes of the earth. Therefore, any change will likely be more a matter of exploring and exploiting other possibilities. Fracking is one indication of this.

I am not entirely convinced that looking at Cuba’s reaction to peak oil is adequate in gauging or planning what our reaction might be. Certainly, it can provide ideas and motivation for change, but it is likely that the focus of any changes resulting from peak oil will be ones that enable us, at least to some extent, to continue our lifestyles. Current efforts that are similar to those seen in Cuba (such as sustainable agriculture) to postpone or prepare for peak oil are gaining traction here, but are possibly only a postponement of the impact of peak oil. Ultimately, they may only make the impact, or at least the duration of that impact less severe, and thus inadvertently minimize the need for significant changes in attitudes and mentalities. I certainly will not discount such efforts, and they must continue, but we must also be aware of risks.

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