Archive for September, 2007
We’ve all heard the doomsday scenarios for what happens when you reach “Peak Oil” which is a term for the time when world oil production reaches it’s all time peak and begins to decline forever. In one country this has happened already. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and it’s subsidies to the Cuban economy, oil imports were cut by more than half and food by 80 percent.
A brief rundown on Cuba and how it got to be this way: Cuba in the 1950s had been run by the military dictator, Batista, who wanted to make the most out of Havana’s reputation for race tracks, night clubs and casinos. The Cuban rich were getting richer off the deal but the poor, as usual, were just getting poorer so there was a revolution led by the Castro brothers and Che Guevara.
The new regime tended more toward the communist style of governing and in 1960 established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. After the disasterous Bay of Pigs invasion and the almost catastrophic Cuban Missile Crisis, the US began an embargo against Cuba that left that nation in serious need of food and basic necessities.
The Cuban people were mobilized and worked hard and their survival was mostly due to their own efforts during this time. They invested heavily in growing sugar cane for export using fossil fuels obtained from the Soviets. Then in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and their economic subsidies to Cuba of $6 billion/year vanished overnight. Not long after that the US added to the embargo by prohibiting trading, travel and family remittances to Cuba. This eliminated 70% of Cuba’s food and medicine imports. The Cubans now refer to this time as “The Special Period.” The average Cuban lost 20 lbs. during this special period.
In a new documentary, Power of Community, Cubans share how they survived the transition from a highly fossil fuel dependent, mechanized, agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. Today, half of all the food consumed in the city of Havana is grown in within the city limits of Havana. Cuba is the only country that has faced what all of us are going to have to deal with eventually – a massive reduction in our use of fossil fuels. This is a surprising and inspiring story. See the 2 minute trailer below and then go to their website http://www.powerofcommunity.org/cm/index.php for screening and ordering information.
Global Exchange, is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice. Under their “war, peace & democracy” section is a wide choice of ways to get active. I just signed the Declaration of Peace
Friday, September 21 is the International Day of Peace. Declare peace through public signings of the Declaration of Peace and other nonviolent actions from Friday, September 14 through Friday, September 21. October 21-23 will be the No War, No Warming campaign and on October 27 the National Antiwar Mobilizations, ten mass demonstrations around the country. For the latest news on these actions you can go to http://www.unitedforpeace.org/
In September, Congress will vote on a request from the Bush administration for an additional $142 billion for the war, giving him enough money to continue the war at least another year costing (at current casualty rates) another 1,084 American lives and who knows how many thousands Iraqis. 70 members of Congress have already pledged to stop funding the war by signing on to a letter sent to the president on July 19th by Representatives Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, and Maxine Waters. Go here to find out if your representative has signed and, if not, to send an email demanding that Congress fund only the safe, orderly and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq. If your representative has signed send a thank-you letter here.
The lively , Code Pink, Women for Peace, have a pre-emptive strike for peace on their website. You can sign on to the Promote Peace with Iran – Stop the Next War Now! petition and then check out their colorful and efficient site for other ways to promote peace.
Military Families Speak Out is an organization of people opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones currently in the military or who have served in the military since the buildup to the Iraq war. I have been a member of this organization and these are some of the most kind, caring, dedicated people I have ever met. If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war, you may join us by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and go to their website at http://mfso.org for activist opportunities.