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Low-Energy Lifestyle: Lessons from Cuba

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Title: Low-Energy Lifestyle: Lessons from Cuba


1
Low-Energy Lifestyle Lessons from Cuba
  • Presented
  • by
  • Pat Murphy,
  • Executive Director
  • Community Solutions
  • Yellow Springs, OH 45387

2
The Problem We Will Run Out of Oil
3
The Possible Decline Could Be Steep!
4
Alternatives Unlikely to Fill the Gap
  • Bio-fuels require land and fossil fuel
    fertilizers
  • Questionable Energy Return on Energy Invested
    (EROEI)
  • World grain stocks at a low point
  • Best dam sites are gone
  • Wood renewable but in short supply
    deforestation continues
  • PV solar and wind turbines most rapidly growing
  • Also site-limited
  • Wont scale well and are intermediate
  • David Pimentel Possibly 40 of oil and gas
  • And much more expensive

5
What Is Best Response to Peak Oil/Gas?
  • Change the American Way of Life change our
    lifestyle
  • Current way of life energy-intensive lifestyle
  • New way of life low-energy lifestyle
  • Our Way of Life will be negotiable if we run
    out of oil
  • Natural resources are finite!

6
Community Solutions Physical/Cultural
  • Our goal is small local, low-energy communities
  • We think people are happier and life is better
  • Small communities are much more energy efficient
  • Small community philosophy
  • Cooperation is preferred to competition
  • Social interaction is preferred to consumer goods
  • How does Community help?
  • A cultural view satisfied with a low-energy
    lifestyle

7
Taking the First Step
  • Describing a low-energy lifestyle
  • Defining and explaining the main categories of
    energy use
  • Listing low-energy alternatives
  • Designing strategies to achieve them

8
Low-Energy Lifestyle Key Points
  • More walking/cycling vs. less driving
  • We have 10 times more cars per capita than rest
    of world
  • Reduced size of meals, houses, cars
  • More home economics vs. two parents working
    long hours
  • Less mobility people will not move as much for
    jobs
  • Live local entertainment vs. electronic national
    entertainment
  • Higher quality of life benefit for lower standard
    of living
  • Many social indices show declining quality of
    life
  • Bowling Alone

9
Low-Energy Lifestyle Considerations
  • Contrary to American Way of Life
  • A way of consuming only a recent (1950s) way
    of life
  • Low energy fits earlier values prudence,
    thriftiness
  • A more sustainable way to live
  • Consider legacy of
  • Nuclear waste, buried CO2 and air CO2, other
    toxins
  • More consideration for children and grandchildren
  • Avoids betting the world on exotic technology

10
Key Categories of a Low-Energy Lifestyle
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Community zoning and land use
  • Others to be considered later
  • Education
  • Occupations
  • Business and economics

11
Food/Energy Changes 1900-2000 (world)
  • Cultivated area increased by 1/3
  • Harvest of edible crops increased by 6 times
  • People per cropland acre increased by 2.7 times
  • World population increased by 3.8 times
  • Fossil fuels use increased by 150 times!!!
  • Green Revolution energy intensive industrial
    agriculture
  • Energy at the Crossroads, Vacliv Smil, 2003

12
Problems of Industrial Agriculture
  • Industrial food is not safe, healthy, or
    nutritious
  • Obesity rates increasing rapidly in U.S.
  • Industrial food is not cheap when all costs are
    in
  • 10 calories of fossil fuel for every calorie of
    human food
  • Industrial agriculture is inefficient wastes
    fuels
  • Much of fuel inputs end up in water ways and
    water table
  • Industrial agriculture injures the environment
    and wildlife
  • Mostly from the wastes of the fossil fuel used
  • Almost all agriculture pollutions are fossil fuel
    residues

13
Energy-Intensive vs. Low-Energy Food
  • Reduce frozen and packaged foods consumption
  • Manufactured groceries will be replaced by local
    production
  • Food should be grown locally
  • Reduce food shipment distance from 1200 to lt100
    miles
  • Organic food will eliminate pesticides,
    herbicides, fertilizers
  • Agrarian agriculture rather than industrial
    agriculture
  • Tens of millions of new farmers needed (15-25 of
    work force)
  • Labor intensive farming better for soil and more
    productive
  • Folke Gunther (Sweden) estimates 5-1 energy
    reduction
  • Sustainability through Local Self-Sufficiency

14
Other Agriculture Changes
  • Move to cooperatives, CSAs, farmers markets,
    organic farms
  • Move to animal traction to replace some tractors
  • Drying will be by sun and wind, not fuel-based
    machines
  • All people will take food and agriculture
    responsibility
  • Cannot remain ignorant of energy and health
    issues
  • Food growing and nutrition must be part of school
    curriculum

15
Organic vs. Industrial Agriculture
  • This is the fundamental choice
  • Replace fossil fuels with labor
  • Increase diversity

16
Reducing Car Energy by 10 to 1
  • Make cars smaller and lighter (from 20 mpg to 80
    mpg)
  • Lower frequency of use (from 11,000 to 5,000
    miles per year)
  • Drive slower (from 70 mph to 45 mph)
  • Give up solitary driving (from 1.3 to 3
    passengers per trip)
  • Emphasize public transportation over private cars

17
Future Transportation
  • Carpooling and ride-sharing will predominate
  • Hitchhiking will become an acceptable norm
  • Cell phone technology can help this
  • Check Ride-Share communitysolution.org
  • Single occupancy vehicles will be a luxury
  • Trains will replace planes
  • Buses/trolleys/jitneys/bicycles will replace cars
  • Speed limits will be reduced

18
Honda Insight
  • 64 mpg
  • Available since 1999

19
Volkswagen Lupo
  • 1999 78 mpg

20
Daimler Chrysler Smart Car
  • Its not technology its culture
  • 69 mpg

21
Volkswagen Research Model
  • Top speed under 70 mph
  • 8 horsepower - 235 miles per gallon
  • Looks futuristic but simply light and low powered

22
Homes in the Future
  • Low-energy, smaller homes will predominate
  • Thick shell construction without garages will
    reign
  • Houses will be much cheaper to build
  • And even cheaper to operate (low utility bills) !
  • More co-housing units will be built
  • There will be more compact developments on
    smaller plots
  • Eco-villages
  • Houses will include gardens lawns will shrink
  • Root cellars, cisterns and roof rain catchments
    will be used
  • Addresses declining water resources

23
Reducing Home Energy by 4 to 1
  • Decrease size (from 2400 sq ft to 1000 sq ft)
    1950 size
  • Increase wall/roof thickness (from 2x4 walls to
    2x10 walls)
  • Change temperature range (from 70 to 60 in
    winter)
  • Reduce number/size of windows (from 12 to 6
    floor area)
  • Double and triple glazing
  • Use flash and solar water heaters/thick
    refrigerators/freezers
  • Include heat storage in various ways
  • Passive solar
  • Rock and water storage

24
Basic Shelter Design Thick Shells
  • New insulation technologies huge advance over
    1950s
  • New glass also huge advance

25
High Energy House (McMansions)
  • 5000-6000 sq. ft.
  • 800,000
  • Average new home in US 2400 sq. ft.

26
Low Energy Habitat for Humanity
  • Less than 1000 sq feet
  • 46,000
  • Average small home in the world 500 sq ft.

27
Community Structures
  • Cities will become smaller
  • Average house needs replacement every 60 years
  • Small rural towns will grow and flourish
  • Lot sizes will shrink clustered zoning will
    appear
  • Local and individual energy systems will increase
  • Individual house solar panels
  • Community wind systems
  • Suburbs will change from bedrooms to communities
  • A market on every corner again

28
Land Use and Cultural Values
  • People will live locally road travel will
    decrease
  • Residential and non residential places will not
    be separate
  • Advocated in New Urbanism building
  • People will live close to their work maybe the
    same building
  • Many modes of casual mass transportation will
    appear
  • Zoning will be based on energy analysis

29
Cuba Low Energy Lifestyle Example
  • Cuba is unique in the world today
  • Oil use reduced over 50 in 1990!
  • Per capita energy use in Cuba is 1/15th 1/20th
    of U.S. use
  • Cuba is changing from an industrial to an
    agrarian society
  • Emphasizing biotechnology not genetic
    engineering
  • Large number of biological scientists
  • Focus is to build human resources through
    education
  • Medical and teaching education is a low energy
    process
  • Community Service staff visited Cuba three times
    in the last 18 months

30
Cuban History 1990 Present
  • Soviet personnel left Cuba in 1991 Soviet Union
    collapsed
  • Ended economic subsidies 6 billion annually.
  • GDP down 85 in the first 2 years
  • Population lost weight (average 20 lbs.) 30
    per capita calorie decline
  • Some cases of malnutrition and blindness
  • Major decrease in material standard of living

31
The Special Period After Oil Loss
  • Cuba abandoned the Soviet Industrial Model
  • Changed from industrial/petrochemical farming to
    organic
  • Introduced private farms and farmer markets
  • Farms are smaller and use animal traction
  • Maintained free decentralized medical system
  • Used their limited oil resources to generate
    electricity
  • Deemphasized private automobile

32
2004 Status
  • Economy growing steadily at a slow rate
  • Food production up to 90 of pre crisis period
  • But nowhere near pre crisis level of energy
    inputs
  • Very little new housing mostly remodels
  • High energy cost of cement results in short
    supply
  • Transportation is still ad hoc (improvised)
  • Everybody shares every vehicle
  • Medical care and education are above previous
    levels

33
Cuban Food
  • Involuntary vegetarianism more energy efficient
  • Meat eating went from twice a day to twice a week
  • Increased vegetable and viandas (starches)
    consumption
  • Increased vegetable sources of protein
  • Decreased wheat and rice (Green Revolution)
    production
  • Urban gardens produce 50-80 of vegetables in
    cities
  • Rural areas improved education for farmers
  • Many people moved from Havana to the country
  • Wages raised for farmers, who are very well paid!
  • Little obesity now due to healthier diet and more
    physical work

34
Raised Beds at Havana Urban Farm
  • Designed for hand labor
  • Some placed on parking lots

35
The Modernized Agrarian
  • This man earns more than an engineer

36
Oxen Replaced Tractors
  • The farmer may have gone to agricultural college

37
Rooftop Gardening
  • Permaculture Applications

38
Rooftop Food Animals
  • Chickens, hamsters, rabbits
  • Grows some grasses for animals

39
Urban Gardens
  • Downtown Havana

40
Cuban Housing
  • Major problem particularly in Havana
  • Immigration to Havana is limited
  • Increased efforts to develop rural areas
  • More sq. ft. per person in rural areas than in
    Havana
  • House sizes are small relative to U.S.
  • U.S. new house size 2400 sq. ft. 600 sq.ft. per
    person
  • Cuba new house size 700 sq. ft. 135 sq.ft. per
    person
  • There is a 41 ratio U.S. to Cuba sq.ft. per
    person
  • 80 of Cubans own their home

41
Eco Village
  • Small but attractive

42
Simple Furnishings
  • Kitchen bath utilities are minimal
  • Wooden furniture
  • Wardrobes few built-ins

43
Cuban Transportation
  • Every means possible Camels, dump trucks,
    mules, bikes
  • Vehicles heavily utilized
  • Occupants per trip 1.2 in U.S., 5-6 in Cuba
  • Roads lightly used and poorly maintained
  • Hitchhiking is an accepted alternative
  • In some cases illegal not to pick up hitchhikers
  • Some empty vehicles commandeered by highway
    patrol
  • Very inconvenient but very efficient relative to
    energy use

44
The Camel 300 Passengers
  • Cheap Cuba mass transportation

45
Provincial Version of Camel
  • Each of these units looks different innovation

46
Varied Forms of Transportation
  • Horse drawn units like this have taxi licenses

47
Rapid Innovation
  • Mass transport appeared immediately using
    existing vehicles
  • No time or money for light rail or subways or new
    vehicles
  • Simply used whatever was available
  • Added incentives to agriculture free market
  • Big big change from socialist system
  • Many new kinds of business appeared
  • Government decreased regulation
  • A social transformation more than a technical
    one
  • Much of Cubas political philosophy was changed
  • Successful because of Cuban cooperative history
  • Competition is not the principle social driver
  • An example of Community Spirit

48
Medical System Did Not Collapse
  • Free medical care remained first priority during
    the crisis
  • Vital for the morale of the people
  • Cuba has same life span as U.S. lower infant
    mortality
  • Has more doctors per capita then U.S. more
    labor intensive
  • There is much more effort on prevention
  • System could not support fast food life styles
  • Doctors live in the neighborhoods they serve
  • Informally monitoring local health

49
Summary Cuba Culture/Material Life
  • Cuba has best health care, education, and diet in
    third world
  • High life expectancy low infant mortality
    rates
  • Free education through high school
  • Elementary class size of 15 students per class
  • Higher education free but limited availability
    lt25
  • Social security men retire at 60, women at 55
  • Ages will probably increase
  • Food supply healthy and adequate but not
    plentiful or rich
  • Far fewer material goods cars, houses,
    furniture
  • Cuba cannot afford consumerism at any level
  • An example of genteel poverty

50
Cuba Low-Energy Community Solution
  • Definitely a low-energy lifestyle
  • Changed from industrial priority to agrarian
  • Huge reductions in energy use for food, transit,
    housing
  • Major transformation of the society
  • Culture, politics, values
  • Not out of the woods yet
  • Great stresses on society
  • Still using energy to some extent
  • Unclear if the soil is yet sustainable
  • Social unrest lure of Miami

51
Community Solutions Summary
  • Peak oil is coming denial will be short-lived
  • It will change our way of life
  • Will not be able to live like we are now
  • Our task is to educate and model the transition
  • Three projects under development
  • Energy Information Management System (EMIS)
  • Food Information Management System (FMIS)
  • Factor Four Model Village Agraria
  • One successful model proposed
  • Smart Jitney (communitysolution.org)

52
A Personal Example
  • Current
  • Moved from 1800 sq.ft. to 800 sq.ft.
  • Replaced car with Honda Insight 64 mpg
  • Raising eggs for neighborhood
  • Started garden will add neighbors land in
    spring
  • Replaced furnace in house with efficient unit
  • Replaced all light bulbs
  • Heavy use of bicycles
  • Planned
  • Build 6 walls on inside of exterior walls
  • Design and build window covers

53
Remember Albert Einstein
  • We cant solve problems by using the same kind
    of thinking we used when we created them.
  • I believe that the horrifying deterioration in
    the ethical conduct of people today stems from
    the mechanization and dehumanization of our lives
    the disastrous by-product of the scientific and
    technical mentality.
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