When I talk about sustainability, I am invariably told that it could never work on a large scale. We could never do it here.
The fact is, large scale sustainability can, and does happen. Cuba is an excellent example.
With the combination of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the American trade embargoes, Cuba was suddenly thrust into a localized peak oil situation. Oil became extremely scarce and almost no one would trade with them.
They went through quite a bit of chaos at first, during what Cuba refers to as the “Special Times”, when they had to adjust to no longer being able to use cars and not having food stocked on the shelves of supermarkets.
It was a difficult transition. People were used to modern luxuries. They were used to hot and cold water on tap, all the electricity they wanted, food from everywhere, buying new stuff whenever they liked, and being able to drive whenever they wanted.
Now they had to contend with bicycling everywhere, having to grow food, and greatly conserving energy and resources. They had to fix things when they were broken or do without.
Along the way, Cuba turned to its farmers for salvation, to learn how to grow food sustainably, and copiously. As a result of this forced sustainability, some massive benefits took place.
The populace got much healthier from eating tons of fresh vegetables and bicycling everywhere. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other diseases commonly brought about by excess was greatly reduced in the population.
People also become happier. They had to work with people in their communities and they developed more friendships and extended families and became closer to each other as a society.
They’ve done it. They’ve become almost completely sustainable. Are we going to say that we’re incapable of doing the same? Must we wait until circumstances force us into chaos and eventual sustainability? We could simply start now. Let Cuba be a template.
It can be done because it has been done. We can start now. This isn’t something we can vote for, it’s something we just have to do.
Here is a documentary that goes into detail about the steps Cuba took towards sustainability. It’s very much worth watching. If anyone tells you it can’t be done, ask them to watch this:
© 2015 William Suphan
- Beyond Replacing the System
- From Here to Where?