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Low-Energy Lifestyle: Lessons from Cuba

Low-Energy Lifestyle: Lessons from Cuba

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Low-Energy Lifestyle: Lessons from Cuba

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  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 • Won’t 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 <100 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 • It’s not technology – it’s 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 4:1 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 Cuba’s 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 <25% • 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