Erasmo Calzadilla

Oil platform. photo: wikipedia.org

There is an anxiousness that I haven’t been able to shake and which is in fact changing my life.  It hit me after reading about the Hubbert Theory of Peak Oil and becoming aware how little oil is left on the planet.  It is striking how dependent we are on this fossil fuel whose extraction will soon cease satisfying our collective demands.

If we don’t take urgent measures, when this occurs the world will sink into chaos not much different from the Apocalypse.  Friends that I’ve talked to concerning this matter, even very well educated people, believe that this will take hundreds of years or that a new technology will emerge to immediately replace oil.  Almost no one suspects what is fast approaching, while the oil industries and automobile manufacturers prefer it this way.

Almost all objects with which we coexist are developed based on petroleum, and our culture itself is shaped by the idea that its exploitation will permanently increase.  In the century or so that we’ve been burning oil, we’ve forgotten and destroyed traditions and customs that we’ll have to rescue or re-invent when it runs out.

In Cuba

Some progressive researchers warn of the possibility of a catastrophe, but it’s curious to see how those same people miss the boat when dealing with the issue in Cuba.

Many of them point to this country as an example of what could be done when the crisis hits, since something similar occurred here with the fall of the socialist camp, and we were able to survive to tell our story.

It’s true; we had to go back to draft animals, traditional green medicine and urban agriculture; but, as soon as the Venezuelan tankers appeared in the port we returned to being as oil-dependent and oil-centric as any nation on earth.

To tell the truth, we have indeed implemented a mass campaign to conserve energy, but I don’t believe that there exists a deep change in our policies or mentality in this same sense.

The problem is that the oil-centric energy paradigm is the pillar of the political paradigm of the centralized State, which has not given an inch.  Most urban neighborhoods will succumb or have to painfully readapt themselves when the electricity and water pumped with the black gold becomes scarce.

The positive

But, if what they predict ends up coming to pass, it won’t be all bad.

Should we survive the fuel war and the accompanying chaos, perhaps we’ll be able to enjoy greater local autonomy and reduce our environmental pollution.

The rhythm of life will unfold more leisurely and harmonize with our biology.  Maybe there will be more opportunities for human relations and all the good that can be derived from that.

I believe that the oil shock will mean the undoing of capitalism, which depends so much on production perpetually increasing.  However I worry about the survival of “State socialism” and other forms of authoritarianism; history has demonstrated that such systems are not necessarily dependent on petroleum.

Among my family and friends, all these concerns have transformed me into an advocate of a daily practice that minimizes the use of fossil fuels.  These days I’m getting used to sleeping without a fan, and it’s pleasant to again hear the sounds of the night.


Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

11 thoughts on “Oil Dependence and Cuba

  • Hubert G: Sorry about not getting back to you sooner. You ask about fusion and a society based on cooperatives (that is, a socialist cooperative republic). Well, it’s fairly simple. Fusion generating stations would be funded and installed by socialist government, and industry, commerce and society would go over to use of this energy source in a relatively short time.

    There’s a big problem however in that it will take an entire generation, perhaps 25 years, to perfect and begin installation of these power stations. We don’t have a generation’s worth of time to spare for saving the world environment, and so fusion nuclear power is an ideal solution that can’t save us in time. The only real answer is near-term massive investments in direct solar, geothermal, wave, etc. power generation.

    But monopoly capitalism will not let that happen, and so the future looks bleak. The only thing that might save civilization is a massive world change by about 2020 to a network of socialist cooperative republics. But Marxism is standing in the way of that, and so there’s little hope.

    In my own country (US) we are trying to form a Cooperative Republic Movement, but its tough going. If only the Marxists could wake up and realize what real, workable socialism is, there would be hope. But they’ve got their heads in a place where the solar doesn’t shine and can’t see a thing.

    All I can say is that we are trying as best we can. Cheers.

  • Why the focus on oil? Why the dream of nuclear energy by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez? Under Lenin the slogan was, electrification plus soviet power equals communism. There was never any serious plan to do anything different from private capitalism in terms of less than ecological ways of production and generating electricity, except to be even more megalomaniac.

    Some of you experts might prove me wrong, but I think the greatest failure of the Cuba revolution has been, never ever to have endeavoured self-sufficiency in energy production.

  • Take one point, with the decline in sugar production, the result was that at least half of Cuba’s arable land lay idle. Fidel Castro’s criticism that bio fuels push aside food production does not hold in Cuba itself, as the alternative in Cuba to bio fuel production was to do nothing and waste time and energy.

    With the appearance of Hugo Chavez Cuba went back to its old lazy ways of thinking about energy and once again became dependent on something beyond its own control.

  • (Chavez also completely fails to comprehend that not diversifying enough from oil will damage his own country, let alone the contribution he makes to fueling climate change while sitting on a high horse criticising those who buy and burn his products. His plans to fund an oil refinery on a pristine island like Dominica speaks for his ecological illiteracy.)

    Grady,
    just one question, how would the fusion nuclear power project fit in within a society based on cooperatives?

  • Greg Greene: I have your DVD and it’s really good. Good job.

    Nonetheless, I still believe the whole obsession with peak-oil plays into the interests of big oil. What is needed in the world is not individuals being depressed by and preoccupied with peak oil. What is needed is a world network of socialist cooperative republics to take hold of the situation and change it before it’s too late.

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